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Report: Mayor hired political donor to remove statues

August 18, 2020 GMT

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — The mayor of Virginia’s capital city agreed to pay $1.8 million to a firm linked to a political donor to take down Richmond’s Confederate statues last month, according to records.

Documents provided by Mayor Levar Stoney’s office after a Freedom of Information Act request showed the city contracted with NAH LLC to remove Richmond’s Confederate statues during ongoing civil unrest, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reported Monday.

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The newspaper reported that the firm, created 10 days before Stoney ordered the statues removed, is a shell company linked to Team Henry Enterprises, a Newport News-based contracting firm owned by Devon Henry, a Stoney donor.

Under an emergency order, Richmond officials, including the director of procurement, said Stoney executed the contract in compliance with state law, even without following procedures outlined under the city’s emergency procurement rules.

“Were it possible to pursue a traditional procurement, the mayor would have done so, but circumstances required him to pursue a different legal avenue and he chose to prioritize protecting lives and property over process,” said Jim Nolan, a spokesman for the mayor. “This decision was fully within his authority, and he stands by it.”

A message left for Henry at his company’s Newport News office Monday was not returned, the newspaper said.

Campaign finance records show Henry has given Stoney and his One Richmond political action committee a combined $4,000 since 2016.

A Stoney spokeswoman said those donations did not play a role in the mayor’s decision to award Henry’s firm the contract. The city paid NAH LLC $900,000 to mobilize crews to begin removing the statues, then $180,000 per day of work.