Timeline of Governor McAuliffe’s Executive Order on Restoration of Rights

chriswest2016 General Assembly, Public Safety

April 22 – Governor McAuliffe announces an executive order purporting to restore the political rights of 206,000 convicted felons. Link

April 26 – House and Senate leaders call for special session of the General Assembly to discuss the Governor’s unconstitutional action and call on the governor to release the list of felons included in his executive order. Link

April 26 – In a span of 45 minutes, the Governor’s office refuses to release the list of felons included in the executive order, while claiming not to have a list at all, while simultaneously advertising a searchable database on the Secretary of the Commonwealth’s Facebook page.Link.

May 2 – General Assembly Republicans retain attorney Charles J. Cooper of Cooper & Kirk, PLLC to explore legal options related to the order. Cooper was a former assistant attorney general under President Ronald Reagan who once was named “Republican lawyer of the year.” Link

May 12 – Two weeks after saying the crimes of those on the list were “unknown” and “irrelevant,” the governor’s office releases limited data on restorations, revealing that the executive order affects 40,000 violent felons. Link

May 23 – The Washington Post reports that the governor’s order creates an easier path to gun ownership for felons. The article quotes a Virginia criminal defense attorney who says, “The most anti-gun governor in a long time in Virginia just made it incredibly easy for felons to get guns.” The governor admitted that he “did not think” his order would impact gun rights. Link

May 24 – Speaker Howell, Senator Norment and four other Virginia voters announce a lawsuit against McAuliffe, directly petitioning the Supreme Court of Virginia to block the enforcement of the governor’s executive order. Link

May 24 – Speaker Howell and Senator Norment write a joint op-ed in the Richmond Times-Dispatch arguing that the “case against the governor is overwhelming.” Link.

May 25 – An alleged cop killer files a motion in Dinwiddie County Circuit Court to include convicted felons in his jury pool, citing the governor’s executive order. Link

May 30 – Two Northern Virginia prosecutors seek the governor’s list of restored felons. The governor’s office denies the request, citing the working paper’s exemption. Link

May 30 – Attorney General Mark Herring files a reply brief in Howell v. McAuliffe, defending the governor’s unconstitutional executive order. Link

June 1 – The Supreme Court grants a request for a special session to the challenge to the governor’s executive order. This is the first special session of the Virginia Supreme Court sincethe 1993. Link

June 2 – Attorney Charles J. Cooper writes an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal highlighting the legal challenge to the governor’s unconstitutional executive order. Link.

June 3 – The Washington Post reports that Governor McAuliffe mistakenly restored the political rights of several violent felons currently in prison or onsupervised provision. The mistakes include a murderer serving a life sentence in West Virginia and a sex offender deported to Peru. Link

June 4 – The Roanoke Times reports that the executive order restored the rights of violent gang members still in prison. Link

June 4 – Reacting to the June 3 Washington Post “bombshell”, Republican leaders blast Governor McAuliffe’s order is reckless and incompetent administrative work. Link

June 6 – PolitiFact rates as false the oft-repeated claim by the governor and former Secretary of the Commonwealth Levar Stoney that Virginia’s constitutional prohibition on felon voting is a “JimCrow era law.” Link

June 8 – Augusta County Judge Victor V. Ludwig writes sharply and thoroughly criticizes the governor’s executive order in an opinion denying a request to allow felons to serve as part of a jury pool. Ludwig called the order a “thoughtless” and “ambiguous.” Ludwig also said the governor “acts in a way far more expansive than his justification can support.” Link

June 15 – The Washington Post reports that the governor’s executive order restores the political rights of 132 of Virginia’s most dangerous sexual predators housed at a rehabilitation center in Nottoway County.  Link

June 17 – A bipartisan group of 43 Virginia Commonwealth’s Attorneys file an amicus brief supporting the Republican lawsuit against Governor McAuliffe’s executive order. Link.

June 18 – The governor’s office pulls the 132 violent sex offenders from its online database, which independent Nottaway County Commonwealth’s Attorney Terry Royall called a “cover up.” Link.

June 19 – The Richmond Times-Dispatch reports on numerous violent felony offenders applying to restore their gun rights based on the governor’s executive order. Link

June 26 – The Richmond Times-Dispatch reports that the McAuliffe administration gave political allies and liberal activists more than three weeks of notice before issuing his executive order, but did not notify Commonwealth’s Attorneys or registrars at all. Link.

June 28 – Speaker Howell writes in an op-ed in the Free Lance-Star that the governor “badly botched the implementation of a bad idea.” Link.

July 9 – The Richmond Times-Dispatch reports that despite administration claims that the list was being cleaned up, fugitive sex offenders remain included. The Governor’s office called it “an oversight.” Link.

July 13 – The Freedom of Information Advisory Council releases an opinion stating that the list of restored felons is not a “working paper” and therefore not protected from release. Link.