Virginia NAACP to sue Youngkin over handling of DEI records requests

By Michael O'Connor

April 16, 2024

The civil rights group said it would take Youngkin to court for not releasing communications between his office and state universities related to diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts.

The NAACP Virginia State Conference announced Monday it plans to take the office of Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin to court for allegedly violating Virginia’s Freedom of Information Act.

The Virginia NAACP has accused Youngkin’s office of refusing to release public records and correspondence related to diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts, which have come under scrutiny during Youngkin’s time in office.

The Virginia NAACP’s lawsuit stems from an incident last year when the Youngkin administration’s chief diversity officer, Martin Brown, said “DEI is dead.” Brown’s comments prompted lawmakers and advocacy groups, including the Virginia NAACP, to call for Brown’s resignation. The Virginia NAACP then requested records related to diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts in state government. The civil rights group says Youngkin’s office is wrongfully blocking it from accessing those records.

“Virginians, especially people of color, deserve to know what this administration is doing in its Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion,” Rev. Cozy Bailey, president of the Virginia NAACP, said in a press release. “Some believe this Governor is copying efforts seen in other states to limit or outright eliminate DEI practices in state government.”

Youngkin’s office defended its commitment to transparency and adherence to the law.

“In this matter, because of the extraordinary numbers of documents sought, a legitimate issue involving the best method for document search and production has arisen,” Governor Youngkin Press Secretary Christian Martinez said in a statement. “We expect further discussions to occur to seek a resolution per the statute.”

 

  • Michael O'Connor

    Michael is an award-winning journalist who has been covering Virginia news since 2013 with reporting stints at the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Virginia Business, and Richmond BizSense. A graduate of William & Mary and Northern Virginia Community College, he also covered financial news for S&P Global Market Intelligence.

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