Top US congressional riot investigator fired from University of Virginia

CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA. – Virginia’s new Attorney General, Jason Miyares, has fired lawyers from two major public universities, his office said, marking more significant changes as Republicans resume their new jobs. mine.

Tim Heaphy, a counselor for the University of Virginia, and Brian Walther, a counselor for George Mason University have been released, Miyares spokeswoman Victoria LaCivita told The Washington Post. School counselors in Virginia’s public colleges and universities are appointed by the attorney general.

Heaphy, who along with UVA also confirmed his disqualification, worked at the school for about three years. The newspaper reported that he quit his job to serve as the lead investigator of the US House of Representatives Committee investigating the uprising at the Capitol on January 6, 2021.

LaCivita said Heaphy’s firing had nothing to do with that investigative role. Instead, she said in a statement, Heaphy was a “controversial” hire and Miyares’ Democratic predecessor, Mark Herring, “removed many qualified internal candidates when he put this particular college advisor in.”

“Our decision was made after reviewing legal decisions made over the past few years,” LaCivita said. “The attorney general wants the university’s advisors back to giving legal advice based on the law, not the philosophy of a university. We plan to do an internal review first to find the next lead counsel. “

Michael Kelly, Herring’s former head of human resources, said LaCivita’s characterization of hiring Heaphy was inaccurate. Heaphy is a well qualified attorney with extensive experience and the UVA administration’s first choice, Kelly wrote in an email.

“Without controversy, his hiring has been lauded by the university community and leadership,” Kelly wrote.

Referring to Walther’s firing, according to the newspaper, LaCivita said it’s common for an attorney general to be appointed to appoint an attorney who shares a “legal philosophy and approach.” Both Heaphy and Walther are Democrats, according to the Post. LaCivita also did not say whether other advice at Virginia’s public universities and colleges had been ignored.

A former United States Attorney for the District of West Virginia, Heaphy was hired by UVA in 2018. Prior to that, he conducted an independent investigation into the “Unity Right” protest in Charlottesville in 2017.

Heaphy, a UVA graduate student and longtime Charlottesville resident, said in a statement it was “a tremendous honor and privilege” to serve as a school counselor. UVA said in a statement that leaders were grateful for Heaphy’s “excellent service” and were “disappointed to see it end.”

Walther referred questions about his dismissal to George Mason University’s communications department, which referred questions to Miyares’ office. The school said Walther has served as a counselor since 2017 and that “the Mason community is grateful to Brian for his work and years of service.”

Miyares, who defeated Herring in the November election, was sworn in on January 15. About 30 employees were fired by Miyares shortly before he took office, according to the newspaper.

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