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Stanley’s phone call on uranium stirs suspicions
SoVaNow.com / September 16, 2012A taped phone call by state Sen. Bill Stanley to a Pittsylvania County supervisor — pressing him to support the tabling of a resolution on uranium mining, allegedly at the behest of Gov. Bob McDonnell — has prompted denials from the Governor’s Office and aroused suspicions by members of the Pittsylvania board that state officials may be working behind the scenes to undermine opposition to the proposed Coles Hill mine site.
The telephone conversation — which took place Aug. 31 between Callands supervisor Jerry Hagerman and Stanley — included several statements by Stanley that indicated the governor wanted the resolution nixed. The resolution cited a National Academy of Sciences study on the risks of uranium mining and called for, among other things, the creation of a fund to compensate anyone within a five-mile radius who might suffer its effects.
McDonnell previously has said he would not seek to influence local debate in the mining issue.
“I wasn’t expecting any call like that from any politician, to be honest,” said Hagerman, a first-term supervisor and retired law enforcement officer who said he tapes calls to help him keep track of constituents’ concerns. He said Stanley claimed he was calling at McDonnell’s request “at least three times.”
The existence of the call was first reported Sept. 14 by Richmond political journalist Peter Galuszka on the website Bacon’s Rebellion (http://www.baconsrebellion.com). Galuszka wrote that he listened to Hagerman’s tape and Stanley “is heard to say distinctly that he did speak with McDonnell regarding the county uranium resolution.”
The report continues: “At one point, Stanley can be heard saying, ‘I just got a call from the Governor.’ At another time, he can be heard saying, ‘The Governor called and said it is very important to reach out.’”
Asked yesterday to confirm the veracity of the Bacon’s Rebellion report, Hagerman said he was “very impressed” with its accuracy. He was reached by mobile phone while driving through Lynchburg, and was not able to replay the conversation for this newspaper at press time.
Stanley, reached late Sunday for comment, admitted that he “misspoke” in the conversation with Hagerman, but added that he had his reasons for not wanting the resolution to go forward.
He said the resolution is unlikely to satisfy either opponents or advocates of uranium mining, and meantime, he is talking with Tidewater officials about the possibility of establishing an inland port facility in Danville that could lead to the creation of thousands of new jobs. He said he is attempting to create an economic alternative to uranium mining, and perceived the Pittsylvania board resolution as unhelpful.
“Look, I overpushed there,” said Stanley. “I got very frustrated with him [Hagerman] for not seeing the forest for the trees … It didn’t come from the governor. It was me.”
Added Stanley: “I think it’s kind of creepy that Jerry Hagerman tape records the conversations of his constituents without letting anybody know.”
He acknowledged the episode may feed suspicions that state officials are encouraging efforts by Virginia Uranium Inc. to overturn Virginia’s mining ban, but Stanley insisted that he is not part of that.
“I have not made my position on uranium known, but I will tell you: I am against it and I will vote against it,” he said yesterday.
Stanley said his approach on the uranium issue has been shaped by a desire to be “at the table” in finding alternatives to mining. He said opponents run the risk of cutting themselves out of the discussion by taking a hard-line approach to the issue.
An inland port, similar to one that exists in Front Royal — where cargo coming into Virginia ports is shipped by rail and truck to points inland — “would be an economic boon for our area,” said Stanley. He said it is important to “see if there is a way we can partner up for an alternative on uranium mining,” adding, “I am against it, but I want another answer.”
He said he believes the Uranium Working Group appointed by the governor should be allowed to “do their work and look at a site-specific study” but said he does not claim to speak for McDonnell on the uranium issue.
“I have never talked to the governor or anybody connected to the governor’s office prior to the conversation with Mr. Hagerman,” he said.
A second member of the Pittsylvania board, Marshall Ecker, who also says he’s heard the tape in which Stanley drops McDonnell’s name, said yesterday he remains unconvinced that McDonnell’s office had no involvement in sinking the Pittsylvania resolution. Ecker, who drafted the resolution with fellow supervisor Jessie Barksdale, said the language was first published on Aug. 31 on the county website prior to a Sept. 4 vote. The Pittsylvania board decided not to hold a vote although the resolution was part of the agenda for the meeting.
Ecker said he was not personally approached by Stanley about the resolution, but said there were efforts filtering down from the McDonnell administration to table a vote. In a prior post on Bacon’s Rebellion, Sept. 13, Ecker is quoted as saying “the governor’s people called Stanley and he started calling supervisors to tell them to get the item off the agenda.”
Ecker said after that report was published on-line at Bacon’s Rebellion, he received a call from Martin Kent, chief of staff for the governor, requesting that he retract his assertion that the governor’s office had inserted itself into the debate. Kent, according to Ecker, “said there was no truth to the story and I had to go back to the reporter and deny everything about the governor’s involvement. I told him either he was not telling the truth or Mr. Stanley was not telling to truth.”
Ecker said Kent further mentioned he had family living in Ecker’s Staunton River district, a piece of information he said has stuck in his mind. “Why would they go find someone in the governor’s office who has family in the Staunton River district when they could have had a press secretary call me?
“If there wasn’t anything there, why would they even bother?” said Ecker. “All of a sudden Martin Kent, who is explaining to me that he had family in my district, is saying I should call Mr. Galaszka [the reporter] to say the Governor’s Office doesn’t have anything to do with this.”
“I believe the Governor’s Office is involved in this,” he said.
Jeff Caldwell, press secretary for the McDonnell administration, on Sunday afternoon e-mailed a statement identical to that cited in the Bacon’s Rebellion report: “Neither the governor nor any member of the administration made any calls to influence the actions of the Board of Supervisors. Any statements to the contrary are inaccurate.”
Ecker said yesterday that he plans to reintroduce a new mining resolution that he vowed would be “stronger than the one we wrote before,” and Hagerman said he would support a resolution putting Pittsylvania on record against mining. Both men said they had heard of no talks to establish an inland port in Danville.
Hagerman, who said he had been surprised by Stanley’s Aug. 31 call, which came at 10:30 p.m., said he “has his opinions” about the motivations behind it, but said he was unswayed in wanting to make his opposition to uranium mining known.
“I can’t stand the thought of any type of incident that could destroy people’s homes and property and lives for many years into the future. I think that’s why all politicians are elected — to serve and take care of their people.”
Stanley, a Republican with close ties to McDonnell, represents the western half of Halifax County and portions of Pittsylvania County in the Virginia State Senate.
CommentsSounds like if he is retired LEO, he should know that you can't tape a conversation with out the other party knowing about it. I thought that was illegal, but wait, I forget Libs and Dems will do that sort of thing
- By allpolitical2 on 09 / 17 / 12
CommentsI think you can tape a call if you are a party to the conversation. If I call Jane Doe, I can tape without consent. If Jane Doe calls John Doe, and I tape the conversation it is a crime. google
- By BJ on 09 / 17 / 12
CommentsVirginia is a single party consent state - as long as the recorder consents (which is quite obvious) the taping is legal. Hagerman obviously knows the law.
- By Single Party Consent in Virginia on 09 / 17 / 12
CommentsExcept for Delegate Edmunds, it doesn't surprise me for a moment that our other Virginia elected officials are two-faced in this matter of uranium mining. The matter at greedy personal in-the-know levels are just too huge. From what I have read there is indeed much money to be made from uranium mining, and a personal indifference to cultural, agricultural, environmental matters would just see this as easy money.
Those people, probably without young children, will retire to Florida. They will leave the consequence to the descendants of those families they left behind. Happens all the time, immediate and huge financial gain to the few that flee to leave the detriment of damage and illness for others to manage.
- By emm on 09 / 17 / 12
CommentsMcDonnell only has another year or so to make his friends a lot of money. Bill Stanley should resign. Either he is covering up, or he was lying to an elected official. You don't "misspeak" twice about something like this.
- By Sickened By This on 09 / 17 / 12
Commentsso i can tape my conversations with anyone as long as I give my consent? I have never heard of that, but will be checking on that, if that is the case, woo-ho watch out school board, I will be telling everyone that calls you to record you!
- By allpolitical2 on 09 / 18 / 12
CommentsSounds like the Pittsylvania Supervisor is a wierdo to me. He tapes HIS constituents?? Wouldn't want him representing me. Sounds like Mr. Stanley had a little too much trust of someone he did not know very much about,and smells of a set up to me. These environazi'z will do anything to prevail in their argument. Intimidation, lies or whatever will work. Their moral compass is broke.
- By Strange on 09 / 18 / 12
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