Tracking the Truth in the Virginia attorney general race: Who oversees the embattled Parole Board?

Virginia Politics

PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — Believe it or not, Election Day is just two weeks away from Tuesday. The final push is on to meet voters, raise money, cut commercials and get out the message.   

But how true are the messages? 10 On Your Side’s Andy Fox has been looking into the campaign for Virginia attorney general. Democratic incumbent Mark Herring is facing Republican challenger State Del. Jason Miyares (R-82nd District) from Virginia Beach. 

We are analyzing the truth in two political commercials now running on WAVY-TV. 

The Miyares commercial states: “In October, a man walked into this convenience store and pulled out a gun and robbed it.”  

Miyares then slams Herring for what he perceives as failures on the Virginia Parole Board.  

The commercial continues, “But [David Lee Simpkins] was let out of prison early by liberals on the parole board … they put criminals first and victims last. It’s a scandal and Attorney General Mark Herring is guilty.” 

Is Herring guilty? Truth Tracker finds that Miyares claim is false. 

Herring spoke with 10 On Your Side, pointing out that he doesn’t control the Parole Board.

“Jason likes to point out a lot about the Parole Board, but he knows I don’t appoint the Parole Board. I don’t have any oversight over them,” he said.

Truth Tracker finds Herring’s statement true.

Herring has no power over the Parole Board or the releasing of inmates like Patrick Schooley, who raped and killed Suffolk resident 78-year-old year old Bessie Rountree in 1979.

It should also be noted, the Parole Board did not seek advice from Herring’s office over the release of seven inmates convicted of murder. 

We pointed out to Miyares that Herring says the issue is moot because Herring doesn’t have any judication over the Parole Board. We asked for his response.

“Well, he does have the ability to take them to court if he finds them breaking the law,” Miyares said.

That is true: Herring could have intervened. 

It is also true that laws were broken that specifically require the Parole Board to inform prosecutors and victims’ families before any prisoner is released. In many cases, that was not done, and it was not done in the Schooley release. The family found out from media accounts and a call from 10 On Your Side. 

Miyares thinks Herring failed to take the initiative to intervene since he is the attorney for state agencies such as the Parole Board.

The Inspector General’s report showed they were breaking law and Mark Herring did nothing to stop it. He had the power to do something, and he did nothing. That is the difference between the two of us,” Miyares said.  

Meanwhile, Herring in his commercial attacks Miyares’ wealth and his votes in the General Assembly.

“While raking in more than a million dollars from his family real estate business, Jason Miyares voted to protect landlords over renters and homeowners. It’s sleazy and wrong,” the commercial states.

Herring told us in an interview that Miyares voted against protections from eviction during a pandemic.

That is true, he did vote for landlords, but also long after the start of the pandemic. 

Miyares explained his vote.

“Look, the idea we are just going to suddenly say ‘Hey renters can live for free with no consequences’ — I mean, the whole mortgage industry will collapse,” he said. 

It is also true Herring makes claims against Miyares, but ignores the common practice to source the claims made in political commercials. 

We mentioned this to Herring, that the problem with his TV ads is he doesn’t give sources on bills Miyares voted for. He promised to get us those bill numbers and he did. 

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