An oddly timed press statement from the scandal-plagued Virginia Parole Board chairman Tonya Chapman:
All individuals that were the subject of the OSIG investigation were granted parole during the on-set of the COVID 19 pandemic in late March and early April 2020, with the exception of one case which was granted in November 2019. It is important to note that neither current Chair Tonya Chapman nor Vice Chair Lethia Hammond were members of the Parole Board during this timeframe.
That’s weird, right?
For those following the scandal, here is a brief summary courtesy of Virginia Public Media’s staff report:
Republicans first took aim at the parole board in May of 2020, after the board voted to release a man from prison named Vincent Martin. Martin was serving a life sentence for murdering Richmond Police Officer Michael Connors in 1979.
GOP lawmakers argued Martin shouldn’t be released, saying the process for granting his parole was illegal and unfair.
What followed was a saga involving a broader investigation into the parole board’s policies by the Office of The State Inspector General. OSIG determined the board did not follow the correction procedures in releasing Martin because it didn’t properly notify victims or local prosecutors.
What followed was a series of cover-ups and renewed investigations from the Office of the State Inspector General (OSIG) where statewide officials began attacking and punsihing the OSIG for conducting the investigation at all.
Rumor in Richmond is that Chapman is now proceeding to track down anyone who co-operated with the OSIG so as to fire them for cause, thus discrediting whatever testimony they may provide at a future date. Chapman’s statement to the press was issued on 21 December after the gambit was discovered, hence the following:
As previously indicated in the VPB’s response to the Office of the State Inspector
General’s (OSIG) investigations, OSIG’s conclusions were based on faulty assumptions, incorrect facts, a misunderstanding of certain procedures, and incorrect interpretations of the Virginia State Code. An independent investigator, Nixon Peabody, made the following statement in response to the OSIG investigation, “we find it most likely that OSIG’s lead investigator was impaired by personal bias and that this bias likely had an impact on the tone and substance of the OSIG Parole Board Report.”
Of course, if Chapman was informed of a possible violation in April 2021, why then did she wait until after the elections in December 2021 to investigate these claims?
One might be led to speculate that Chapman is attempting one last cleanup before Republicans return to Richmond.
One might additionally speculate that the undue power brought to bear against the OSIG — which is supposed to be independent and free from such undue political influence — is a scandal unto itself.
Chapman has been no stranger to controversy and personnel issues in the past. During her tenure as Portsmouth Police Chief, Chapman castigated fellow officers for their morale in 2018 and eventually left the department of her own volition in 2019.