NORFOLK, Va. (WVEC) —Right now lawmakers are considering a bill that would automatically suspend convicted elected officials.
Del. Steve Heretick, from Portsmouth introduced the bill in January. This week, an emergency clause was added, meaning it would take effect immediately upon being signed into law.
Anthony Burfoot refuses to step down as Norfolk Treasurer despite a jury convicting him of perjury and bribery in December. Burfoot’s attorney says the law itself is bad legislation.
“I think it’s contrary to our democratic ideals,” said Andrew Sacks.
Sacks says if the proposed legislation passes, applying it to Burfoot to try to suspend him from office would be unconstitutional.
“It changes the rules of the game in the middle of it. Someone has not been subject to the law and is suddenly subject to it after the fact,” said Sacks.
Sacks says you can’t just make a new law and apply it retroactively to someone who was convicted before the law even existed.
There are several other efforts to try to remove Burfoot from office as well. Ron Batliner filed a motion asking a judge to suspend Burfoot. Batliner is also running for Norfolk Commonwealth’s Attorney.
“It’s not the individual, it’s the conduct. When you get convicted of lying and taking money for political favors, those are things where the public can’t trust you anymore,” said Batliner.
A judge moved Batliner’s hearing up to February 22, three weeks earlier than expected because of an opening in the court schedule. A federal judge will sentence Burfoot in April. A vote on the bill in the General Assembly is expected Monday.
Watch the full interview with Burfoot's attorney, Andrew Sacks here: