Showdown! New governor will undo Soering transfer
It's a stop-the-presses moment as the new governor, acting after consultation with new Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli as well as state legislators, including Charlottesville-area Delegate Rob Bell and Senator Steve Newman, who serves the district where the 1985 murders took place, has asked the Justice Department to undo outgoing Governor Tim Kaine's final act in office: moving convicted killer Jens Soering to Germany.
"I hereby revoke Virginia's consent to the transfer," Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell writes in a letter to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder. "I am responsible for ensuring that justice is done."
Kaine made the move without fanfare on his final day in office. And his only defenses thus far–- obtained by the Richmond Times-Dispatch, the newspaper that broke the story–- are that 1) he's been assured that Soering will serve at least two years behind bars in Germany and 2) that he wants Germany to "assume the burden" of incarcerating Soering.
Such defenses have prompted howls of outrage and suspicions that the move of Soering, the son of a German diplomat at the time of the killings, is part of a larger political deal, and like that perpetrated by President Bill Clinton with his exit-day pardon of indicted donor Marc Rich.
Kaine's recent record on civil rights includes declining to restore the voting rights of felons and issuing only limited pardons in the case of the most-likely-innocent Norfolk Four, so his eagerness to effectively pardon a convicted killer (about whose guilt he says he's convinced) comes as a surprise to many Kaine-watchers, who always saw this head of the Democratic National Committee as a straight arrow.
Other officials cited by McDonnell as informing his move include Delegate Todd Gilbert (R- Woodstock) and U.S. Congressman Bob Goodlatte (R-6th). But it's not just Republicans. Even Democrat Tom Perriello opposes the transfer.
"Having reviewed all information and consulted with officials," Perriello says in a statement, "I strongly support Governor McDonnell’s revocation of the planned transfer of Jens Soering, who was duly tried and convicted of heinous crimes here in the United States."