State Watch

Virginia’s new AG sacks lawyers at University of Virginia, George Mason

Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares (R) has fired attorneys from the University of Virginia and George Mason University, saying he “wants the university counsel to return to giving legal advice based on law.”

The University of Virginia’s Tim Heaphy, who was on leave to help lead the House’s investigation into the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, was reportedly among 30 staffers Miyares dismissed upon taking office last week, according to The Washington Post.

George Mason University’s Brian Walther was let go as well, according to Victoria LaCivita, a spokeswoman for Miyares. She added that it was common for attorneys general to appoint counsel that align with one’s “philosophy and legal approach.”

Heaphy and Walther are both Democrats, and LaCivita would not confirm whether any other counsels at Virginia’s dozens of public colleges and universities had been let go.

“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.”

The spokeswoman added that Heaphy’s firing was completely unrelated to his work on the Jan. 6 panel.

Heaphy said working for the university “has been a tremendous honor and privilege,” noting that he was a two-time graduate of the school and the parent of a current student. 

Walther referred comments about his firing to the university, which said “the Mason community is grateful to Brian for his work and his many years of service,” according to The Associated Press

The Hill has reached out to Miyares’s office for comment. The attorney general was elected in November and sworn in earlier this month.

Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin, a fellow Republican, was also sworn in on Jan. 15.

“Our politics have become too toxic,” the governor said in his remarks at the time. “Soundbites have replaced solutions — taking precedence over good faith problem-solving.”

Updated on Jan. 24 at 6:57 a.m.

Tags George Mason University Glenn Youngkin Jan 6 committee Kevin McCarthy UVA Virginia
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