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Virginia AG nominee took $2.6 million from group that promoted Jan. 6 rally

Virginia Del. Jason Miyares has refused to say if he would have supported the attempt to overturn the 2020 presidential election.

By Nick Vachon - October 28, 2021
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Jason Miyares
Republican candidate for Attorney General Del. Jason Miyares gestures during a rally in Glen Allen, Va., Saturday, Oct. 23, 2021. Miyares will face Democrat Mark Herring in the November election. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

Virginia Del. Jason Miyares, the Republican nominee for state attorney general, has taken $2.6 million from the Republican Attorneys General Association, making the group Miyares’ largest contributor by far.

The Republican Attorneys General Association has promoted the false claim that the presidential election was “stolen” from Donald Trump in 2020. Democrats in Virginia have accused the group of encouraging the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol that left five people dead and hundreds injured.

In January 2021, the group’s policy wing, the Rule of Law Defense Fund, sent out a robocall encouraging “patriots” to “stop the steal” and “fight to protect the integrity of our elections” by rallying outside the U.S. Capitol.

“At 1 p.m., we will march to the Capitol building and call on Congress to stop the steal,” a voice on the pre-recorded phone call said. “We are hoping patriots like you will join us to continue to fight to protect the integrity of our elections.”

Miyares, a three-term delegate representing Virginia’s 82nd district, has said that his three years of experience as a prosecutor in Virginia informed his campaign. He has spent much of his campaign accusing his opponent, Democratic Attorney General Mark Herring, of having a “criminal first, victim last” mindset.

Miyares has also targeted Virginia’s parole board for releasing felons convicted of violent crimes. On the campaign trail and in campaign ads, Miyares has attempted to tie Herring with the parole board’s controversies. Herring has no authority over the parole board’s actions.

“It’s a scandal and Attorney General Mark Herring is guilty,” Miyares said in one campaign ad.

But Miyares has so far been silent about the violence that occurred at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, when scores of Trump supporters forced their way into the building and clashed with Capitol Police officers in an attempt to overturn the certification of the 2020 election results.

A majority of Republican attorneys general have tried to push the U.S. Supreme Court to invalidate the 2020 election results in Georgia, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton filed a lawsuit alleging that the vote tallies in those states “suffered from unconstitutional irregularities” and were invalid.

Seventeen of the country’s 26 Republican state attorneys general signed on to the lawsuit.

Over the past week, the American Independent Foundation has reached out to Miyares’ campaign multiple times to ask if he would have joined Paxton’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election results if he were Virginia’s attorney general. The American Independent Foundation also asked if Miyares personally denounced the violence at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, and asked him to comment on the Republican Attorneys General Association’s robocall.

At press time, Miyares’ campaign refused to respond to three separate requests for comment.

The Republican Attorneys General Association has been pouring money into the Virginia race and has given $2.6 million to Miyares’ campaign. But the organization has been in disarray since the January robocall incident, which led three senior officials to resign in protest.

Adam Piper, the group’s executive director, resigned in January amid widespread criticism of the group’s apparent support for the Stop the Steal rally. The group’s board of directors replaced Piper with Peter Bisbee, who was the director of the group’s Rule of Law Defense Fund and who had personally approved the Jan. 6 robocall.

Bisbee’s promotion prompted two senior leaders in the organization to resign in protest, following Piper’s lead. On April 16, Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr resigned his position as the group’s president and chairman of the board. In his resignation letter, Carr cited a “significant difference of opinion” with other members on “the direction this organization should take going forward.”

“This fundamental difference of opinion began with vastly opposite views of the significant of the events of January 6 and the resistance by some to accepting the resignation of the executive director,” Carr wrote in the letter. “The differences have continued as we have tried to restore RAGA’s reputation internally and externally and were reflected once again during the process of choosing our next executive director.”

Shortly after Carr’s resignation, Ashley Trenzeluk resigned her position as the group’s finance director. In her resignation letter, Trenzeluk said the board’s decision to install Bisbee as executive director after Piper quit animated her decision to leave the organization.

“As RLDF Executive Director, Pete Bisbee approved the robocall expenditure, and was the only other person accountable for RLDF involvement in the January 6 events,” Trenzeluk wrote at the time. “Over the last few months, I have fielded, reassured and assuaged concerns from our core donor base on the future direction of our organization. The result of the executive committee vote to nominate Pete as RAGA’s Executive Director is a decision I cannot defend.”

The group has maintained it “had no involvement in the planning, sponsoring, or the organization of” the Jan. 6 event.

With less than a week to go before the Nov. 2 election, Herring is narrowly leading Miyares in the polls, 47.6% to 46.6%, according to the Republican polling firm Cygnal.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.


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