Newly-installed Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares (R) removed two lawyers for public universities after taking office last week in one of his first moves since taking office, the Associated Press reports.
Miyares’ spokesperson, Victoria LaCivita, told The Washington Post that he let go both Tim Heaphy, counsel for the University of Virginia, and George Mason University counsel Brian Walther. Heaphy was on leave from his position to work as a top investigator of the Jan. 6 Capitol breach.
LaCivita said Heaphy’s activities were not a factor in his firing, but that his hire was controversial, and overlooked other more qualified candidates.
“Our decision was made after reviewing the legal decisions made over the last couple of years,” LaCivita said. “The Attorney General wants the university counsel to return to giving legal advice based on law, and not the philosophy of a university. We plan to look internally first for the next lead counsel.”
Heaphy’s former chief of staff Michael Kelly disputed that the hire had been controversial and said in an email that Heaphy was the first choice of the UVA faculty.
“Far from being controversial, his hire was celebrated by the university community and leadership,” Kelly wrote.
Heaphy had been a longtime resident of Charlottesville, VA, and also investigated the 2017 “Unite the Right” rally there that resulted in a protester’s death.
Miyares also let around 30 staffers go prior to his swearing-in on Jan. 15. It was not immediately clear whether more people had been fired or would be replaced.
A wise move
It seems like a wise move for Miyares to clean house and put in place people he wants to work with and with which he shares key values.
Maybe if former President Donald Trump had done this, he would have been able to avoid a lot of the leaks and internal fighting that characterized his administration.
The era when Republicans and Democrats are able to work well together seems to be over, and particularly a Republican coming into a position that had been held by a Democrat needs to watch his back.
Virginia voters asked for this change, and Miyares has to do what it takes to ensure that change can happen.