Former Prosecutor Sues Virginia Candidate

     RICHMOND, Va. (CN) – Virginia’s Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, who is running for governor, fired an assistant attorney general for criticizing him in the media during the primaries, the attorney claims in Federal Court.
     Samantha Vanterpool sued Cuccinelli and Chief Deputy Attorney Charles James Jr. over what she believes was her politically motivated firing.
     Vanterpool, a Republican appointed by Cuccinelli’s predecessor in 2006, claims James fired her a month after the Washington Post published a story about the jockeying between Cuccinelli and his opponent in the primary, Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling.
     The story featured comments from an anonymous web handle stating: “While Bolling is helping the GOP, Cuccinelli is promoting Cuccinelli. For example, he is NEVER in the AG’s office and solely uses the position for self promotion,” according to the lawsuit.
     Vanterpool claims a Cuccinelli staffer saw the remarks and accused her of making them. She says James then fired her for violating the Office of the Attorney General’s policies involving outside communications, a move she claims was approved by Cuccinelli.
     “Despite the plaintiff’s repeated insistence that her rights were being violated and that she should be reinstated to her job, the Attorney General took no action to remedy the violation of the plaintiff’s rights or to reinstate plaintiff to her job,” she says in the complaint.
     She still has not been reinstated. “Instead, a few weeks later, Mr. James abruptly announced his resignation as Chief Deputy Attorney, ostensibly to avoid the political fallout of his unlawful and unconstitutional actions,” Vanterpool says in the complaint.
     Cuccinelli is locked a tight battle for the governor’s office with Democrat Terry McAuliffe. One of them will succeed Gov. Bob McDonnell, a Republican. Most polls, including the latest from Quinnipiac and Rasmussen, show McAuliffe with a slight edge.
     On Monday, Cuccinelli asked Gov. McDonnell to call a special session of the General Assembly on campaign finance rules. McDonnell, is embroiled in a public scandal about accepting cash gifts, declined.
     Vanterpool’s complaint against Cuccinelli accuses him and James of violating her First Amendment rights.
     “The alleged comments, accompanying the Washington Post article, about the Attorney General’s performance of his duties qualify as matters of public concern by a private citizen,” the complaint states. “At the time, the Attorney General (Mr. Cuccinelli) and the Lt. Governor were vying for the gubernatorial nomination of the Virginia Republican Party. Therefore, Mr. Cuccinelli had a vested interest in making sure that he did not receive any negative press.”
     Vanterpool wants Cuccinelli and James to pay her $500,000 in compensatory damages and punitive damages to be determined at trial.
     She is represented by Richard Patrick of Jordan Patrick & Cooley in Fairfax, Va.

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