RICHMOND, VA – Virginia House of Delegates Speaker William J. Howell (R-Stafford) issued the following statement Monday after Governor Terry McAuliffe’s decision to restore political rights of 13,000 convicted felons.
“Virginians believe in second chances and that is why our constitution established an individualized process to restore the political rights of those who are deserving. The numerous mistakes Governor McAuliffe made attempting to restore rights en masse and the ongoing evaluation of an unknown number of individuals originally affected by the original order demonstrates the wisdom of a case-by-case process.
“The General Assembly will carefully review Governor McAuliffe’s process to determine if he followed the legal requirements. From the beginning, we have done nothing more than hold the governor accountable to the constitution and the rule of law. The Supreme Court’s decision vindicated our efforts and we will continue to fulfill our role as a check on the excesses of executive power.
“We are also committed to holding the governor accountable on the merits of his policy. Undoubtedly, the governor has restored the rights of some deserving citizens. But, there is also no doubt that he has restored the rights of some odious criminals. The people of full Virginia deserve a full explanation of the policy, specifically why he is restoring rights to habitual offenders, those who have not yet paid back their victims, and the Commonwealth’s worst sex offenders.”