Virginia's new Republican AG fires lawyer working for Jan. 6 committee from state post

Anna Moneymaker
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WASHINGTON — Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares has fired lawyers from two public universities in the state, including one who serves as a top counsel on the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 riot.

Tim Heaphy worked as counsel at the University of Virginia but has been on leave from the position to work for the House committee. A spokesperson for the Jan. 6 panel declined to comment on the matter.

Miyares, a Republican, also fired Brian Walther, who served as counsel for George Mason University. Both positions are appointed by the state attorney general.

The director of communications for the attorney general, Victoria LaCivita, confirmed the firings to NBC News and said that the decision to let Heaphy go was unrelated to his work for the Jan. 6 panel. LaCivita did not provide any additional details about what prompted the terminations.

“The decision had nothing to do with the January 6th committee or their investigations. It is common practice for an incoming administration to appoint new staff that share the philosophical and legal approach of the Attorney General. Every counsel serves at the pleasure of the Attorney General," she said.

Democrats in Virginia were quick to criticize the move. Scott Surovell, a top Democrat in the state Senate, called the move "unprecedented." Rep. Elaine Luria, D-Va., told the Washinton Post that she was "very concerned" Heaphy was fired for "political reasons."

Heaphy was hired as university counsel at UVA in 2018. He’s been on a leave of absence from the university since he became chief investigative counsel for the Jan. 6 committee in Aug. 2021. Prior to joining the university, he worked on an independent review of the Charlottesville white supremacist rally.

Brian Coy, a UVA spokesman, told NBC News, "University leaders are grateful to Tim for his outstanding service to our community and disappointed to see it come to an end."

Heaphy said in a statement provided by UVA, "Serving as University Counsel for the past 3 years has been a tremendous honor and privilege. As a two-time graduate of the University, the parent of a current student, and a longtime resident of Charlottesville, I love the University and have been privileged to contribute to its aspiration to be both great and good."

He added, "While I’m disappointed that my time as University Counsel has come to an end, I’m confident that the office will continue to provide quality service as the University continues to thrive in the days to come.”

Walther, meanwhile, had been university counsel at George Mason for more than two decades, since Oct. 1999, his LinkedIn profile says.

A request for comment was not immediately returned by Walther. George Mason University directed NBC’s inquiry to the attorney general’s office.

Miyares was elected as state attorney general in November and sworn in earlier this year. He previously served as a member of the Virginia House of Delegates since 2016.

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