McAuliffe’s office stonewalls on immigration, Watchdog.org resorts to FOIA

Gov. Terry McAuliffe has time to promote tourism in the United Kingdom, but his press team won’t respond on the border crisis.

By Kathryn Watson | Watchdog.org, Virginia Bureau

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — In December, Gov.-elect Terry McAuliffe told a room full of reporters he had a “vision for transparency, of working closely with the media to get Virginians the information they need.”

Seven months later, now that the border crisis of undocumented children flooding the country has reportedly reached his own state, McAuliffe’s press team has repeatedly failed since Tuesday to return Watchdog.org’s phone calls, emails and Twitter questions about how he’ll respond. The Democratic governor did have time to tweet about a trip he took to the United Kingdom this week to promote Virginia tourism.

Watchdog.org has asked Brian Coy, Rachel Thomas and Asif Bhavnagri, members of the governor’s press team, for a five-minute conversation to hear McAuliffe’s plans for addressing the crisis, and find out when he will address the issue publicly after word broke this week that undocumented children are being housed at facilities in northern Virginia. They have yet to respond, although plenty of folks on Twitter have also demanded an answer.

Coy, Thomas and Bhavnagri haven’t responded to a single request for comment or an interview from Watchdog.org since McAuliffe took office in January.

On Thursday, Watchdog.org filed a request under the Virginia Freedom of Information Act, asking for all records in the possession of the governor’s office since June 1 that may pertain to the immigration crisis.

Watchdog.org isn’t the only one asking for some insight into the governor’s plans.

Amid the silence, Republican Delegate Scott Lingamfelter, chairman of the House Committee on Militia, Police and Public Safety, sent a letter to the governor, urging him to avoid taking any part in the housing of undocumented immigrants in the commonwealth. For Lingamfelter, it’s all about public safety.

“My view is this — this is a very complex crisis,” Lingamfelter told Watchdog.org . “And one of the things that I’m trying to do is make the governor aware of a concern I’ve had for years. This is not a new issue for me. I have been very concerned about the impact of illegal immigration and the infiltration of cartels and of criminal gangs in the United States and even showing up here in Virginia.

“As I said in the letter to him, I fully expect him to respond, and I hope he does soon,” Lingamfelter continued. “Because the public needs to have the assurance that we are not taking action which could jeopardize the public safety of Virginians, and that’s the real point I want to get across.”

A new Gallup poll revealed this week that “immigration/illegal aliens” is now the top concern of the American public — even more so than the economy.

— Kathryn Watson is an investigative reporter for Watchdog.org, and can be reached at kwatson@watchdog.org.

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com, a columnist for the Forum News Service, and host of the Plain Talk Podcast which you can subscribe to by clicking here.

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