by Brandon Jarvis

Rep. Abigail Spanberger and Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney launched their campaigns for the 2025 Democratic gubernatorial nomination last year. So far, it has been relatively quiet, but a lawsuit and fundraiser have recently brought behind-the-scenes political moves to light.

FOIA in a lawsuit

First, a lawsuit from Richmond’s former FOIA officer, Connie Clay, shows that the Spanberger campaign was interested in Stoney’s salary and personnel records from the city.

“On or about January 24, Clay received two FOIA requests from a citizen who (Petula) Burks claimed worked for Abigail Spanberger’s campaign for governor,” the lawsuit reads.

Burks is the spokesperson for Richmond City’s government.

“The proper FOIA requests sought records related to the Mayor’s office,” the lawsuit continues. “Clay sent the request to the Mayor’s office, copying Burks, requesting that responsive documents be collected for production. Clay then contacted procurement with assistance for collecting the records.”

Burks then tried to direct Clay to exclude some of the records, to which Clay said she could not.

“Burks emailed Clay directing that personnel records were to be excluded from disclosure,” the lawsuit reads. “ Clay reminded Burks that salary records could not be excluded and that personnel records could be disclosed with the consent of the subject of the records.”

According to the lawsuit, Clay eventually received Stoney’s salary information and released it to the person who submitted the FOIA.

Then, on Jan. 4, Burks texted Clay, instructing her not to release any information about the mayor until further notice.

“Clay also received an email from Mayor Stoney’s Chief of Staff, Maggie Anderson, stating that she would handle the FOIA requests for the Mayor’s office going forward,” the lawsuit states. “Clay then received and email from Burks stating that Mayor Stoney’s Press Secretary, Gianni Snidle, would handle FOIA requests for the Mayor’s office going forward.”

The lawsuit spans much more than this one section to address FOIA concerns in the city and was first reported by the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

”The City believes the claims are baseless and intends to defend the lawsuit in court,” Richmond City Attorney Laura Drewry said Friday.

A fundraiser typo?

A fundraiser in honor of Spanberger’s campaign listed JBG Smith as a host for the event. JBG Smith would be the developor for the new sports arena in Arlington if the General Assembly approves it. Spanberger has not taken a public position on the arena.

Spanberger’s campaign said the inclusion of JBG Smith on the fundraiser flyer was a typo, according to the Washington Post. A spokesperson for the campaign did not reply to a request for clarification or comment on Sunday.

“Hell of a typo,” said Kevin Zeithaml, a senior advisor to Stoney.

Stoney and Spanberger still have more than a year to battle it out for the nomination.

While it has been relatively quiet, it will likely pick up — especially after the presidential election in November.

By vascope