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TRAP and the AG

By Mike Signer | September 13, 2012 | No Comments

Today, there’s news of more troubling legal conduct from our Attorney General, Ken Cuccinelli. Several weeks ago, General Cuccinelli attempted to veto the Board of Health’s decision to grandfather in existing abortion clinics from new “TRAP” regulations designed to shut them down, by refusing to certify the Board’s action. Tomorrow, the Board is holding its first hearing since this action from the Attorney General.

The Virginian-Pilot is reporting that Cuccinelli is threatening Board of Health members that they could be denied state legal counsel and have to pay for their own defense if they refuse to comply with his decision.

Boards have a considerable degree of independence in Virginia — that’s how the Administrative Procedure Act sets them up. Further, the Attorney General is charged by state law with representing boards and agencies. Ken Cuccinelli is the only lawyer the Board of Health has. That’s why this situation is so extraordinary, and why Cuccinelli’s decision to put politics over policy here — to threaten a legitimately-appointed board — is so unsettling.

It’s not much different from Cuccinelli’s approach to the global warming — when he subpoenaed the emails of a UVA professor whose research he disagreed with, on the theory that the professor was committing “fraud” with taxpayer research dollars. There, as with the Board of Health, there was a legitimate, established legal duty — to represent his client — that was shredded like so much paper in the face of the Attorney General’s ideological crusade.

This is alarming. The Board of Health is well within its rights to grandfather in existing clinics from these new construction regulations. And their lawyer — the Attorney General — ought to respect his client’s wishes, not bully them into compliance with his own desires.

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