Press

Senator Obenshain and Delegate Gilbert Announce DMV Connect Program in Strasburg

May 25, 2021

Legislators to Bring DMV Services to Constituents

HARRISONBURG, VA – Senator Mark Obenshain (R-Rockingham) and Del. Todd Gilbert (R- Mt. Jackson) are pleased to announce that they are partnering with the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to host a DMV Connect program on June 7,8, and 9 at the Town Hall in Strasburg (174 East King Street Strasburg, VA 22847.)  Services will be by appointment only and priority will be given to residents of the 26th Senate District and 15th House District. Appointments will be available in fifteen-minute increments from 9am until Noon and 1pm until 4pm each day.   

“We have heard from many constituents that they are still unable to schedule DMV appointments for two months or more.  These delays are a result of the Governor’s unwillingness to fully re-open DMV offices across the Commonwealth.  Citizens need to be able to efficiently access DMV services and I am proud that Delegate Gilbert and I were able to partner with the Town of Strasburg to bring the DMV Connect program to our districts, “ Obenshain said.

“I am pleased that Senator Obenshain and I are able to bring the DMV Connect program to the Strasburg area. With many of our constituents experiencing unduly delays in attempting to schedule timely appointments at the DMV, we appreciate the collaboration with the Town of Strasburg to help provide this service,” Gilbert said.

DMV Connect can assist individuals with driver’s licenses, REAL ID, i.d. cards, disabled parking placards, vehicle titling, address changes, vehicle registration and other essential services. Road testing and vital records requests cannot be accommodated at a DMV Connect program. More information can be found at the DMV Connect website.

Individuals can call Senator Obenshain’s office at 540-437-1451 thru June 4 to make their appointment.

Senator Obenshain represents the twenty-sixth district in the Virginia Senate.  The district includes the city of Harrisonburg and the counties of Warren, Shenandoah, Page, Rappahannock and Rockingham (part).  He is a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee and is the former Chairman of the Virginia State Crime Commission.

Delegate Gilbert represents the fifteenth district in the Virginia House of Delegates, which includes all of Shenandoah and Page, and portions of Warren and Rockingham counties. Delegate Gilbert serves as the House Republican Leader and is a member of the Rules and Agriculture, Chesapeake, and Natural Resources, and Finance committees.

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

OBENSHAIN CONTACT:  Jennifer Aulgur

PHONE: (540) 437-1451

EMAIL:  [email protected]

GILBERT CONTACT:  Jeff Walters

PHONE: (540) 459-7550

EMAIL: [email protected]

Obenshain Calls on Governor Northam to Fully Lift Statewide Mask Mandate

May 14, 2021

CONTACT:  Connor Smith

PHONE: (904) 235-3562

EMAIL:  [email protected]

Today, Senator Mark Obenshain (R-Rockingham) released the following statement in response to Governor Northam’s limited modifications to his statewide mask mandate lifting it in some circumstances and only for those adults who are fully vaccinated.

“At this point, everyone in Virginia has had an opportunity to sign up for a vaccination. Virginians can be trusted to decide for themselves whether or not to wear a mask.”

“States like Texas and Florida lifted their mask mandates and reopened their states nearly 3 months ago – after their states’ most vulnerable citizens had an opportunity to secure vaccinations. And they did it without experiencing the surge predicted by the liberal political class and pundits. We need to quit succumbing to crazy pseudo-science and the political weaponization of COVID.”

“Common sense, experience, and science have converged here, yet Governor Northam has persisted in his stubborn refusal to adopt anything but half measures. I am calling on the Governor to end the mask mandate in its entirety, to trust Virginians to make the right choices for themselves and their families.”

“Remember that the mandate covers anyone 5 years or older. Lifting the mask mandate for only those who have been vaccinated still leaves it in place for 5-year-olds, despite a total lack of science to support masking kindergarteners – or at least they would be kindergarteners if the Governor would reopen schools.  The Governor should lift the mask mandate, in its entirety, and proceed to reopen Virginia – now.”

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Senator Obenshain Calls on Governor and NCAA to Relax Restrictions for College Football Games in the Commonwealth

April 21, 2021

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONTACT:  Jennifer Aulgur

PHONE: (540) 437-1451

EMAIL:  [email protected]

Obenshain Calls on Governor and NCAA to Relax Restrictions for College Football Games in the Commonwealth

Restrictions Should be Amended in time for VMI v. JMU College Playoff Game this Weekend

HARRISONBURG, VA  – Today, Senator Mark Obenshain (R-Rockingham), issued the following statement regarding this weekend’s upcoming VMI v. JMU College Football Playoff game in Harrisonburg and the current restrictions with regard to attendance. 

“This weekend is a very exciting one for athletics in Virginia.  VMI will be playing in its first ever college football play-off game against JMU in the first round of the FCS College Playoffs.  Unfortunately, due to the Governor’s current edicts on capacity for outdoor sporting venues, and the more stringent restrictions set by the NCAA, very few fans from either school will even be able to attend this game.”

Governor Northam, via his fourth version of EO 72, limits attendance at outdoor sporting venues to 30% of stadium capacity. Furthermore, the NCAA is even more strict with a limit for football stadiums at 25% capacity.  The capacity of Bridgeforth Stadium at JMU is 25,000; and because of these limitations, only about 6,000 fans will be permitted to attend.

“I have strong ties to both great schools and I just want more fans from both schools to be able to show support. My grandfather was a member of the VMI Class of 1930, JMU is in my Senate district, where I was also a tuition-paying parent.  Invoking the same spirt that led Governor Mark Warner to fight for Virginia Tech to join UVA as a member of the ACC, I call on the Governor to go to bat today for JMU and VMI and to get more fans of both schools seated in that stadium on Saturday. The players have earned it.  They deserve to have more fans there to cheer them on in this game.  The Governor is a doctor and he knows it can be done safely! Maybe JMU even can find it in their hearts to allocate another great Virginia institution — VMI – a few more than 500 tickets it has been allocated out of the more 6,000 available.”

Obenshain concluded, “I call on the Governor, a graduate of VMI, to immediately loosen his arbitrary capacity restrictions for outdoor sporting venues.  Moreover, the NCAA has no business setting capacity restrictions in Virginia’s stadiums.  Nor should their limits be more restrictive that those established by state health officials.  Relax the limits and let more fans of both teams attend the game on Saturday! The players and fans deserve it.”

Senator Obenshain represents the twenty-sixth district in the Senate of Virginia. The district includes the city of Harrisonburg and the counties of Warren, Shenandoah, Page Rappahannock and Rockingham (part). 

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Obenshain Says Governor’s Call for Investigation of OSIG’s Parole Board Inquiry is a “Pure Partisan Whitewash”

April 1, 2021

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONTACT:  Connor Smith

PHONE: (904) 235-3562

EMAIL:  c[email protected]

Obenshain Says Governor’s Call for Investigation of OSIG’s Parole Board Inquiry is a “Pure Partisan Whitewash”

HARRISONBURG – Today, Senator Mark Obenshain (R-Rockingham) released the following statement about Governor Northam’s announcement of a budget amendment to pay for a so-called independent investigation of the Office of the Inspector General.

“Today the Governor released many of his proposed amendments to the budget, including one to add $250,000 for an ‘independent’ investigation of the Office of the Inspector General (OSIG) and its investigation into Vincent Martin’s parole case,” said Obenshain.

He continued, “To be clear, while the Governor and his clique have seemingly been promising an investigation of the Parole Board and its actions, this is not such an investigation. The amendment clearly states that it will be an investigation of the OSIG investigators who had the temerity to reveal pervasive misconduct by the Parole Board.”

The amendment states that the “investigator” (law firm) is going to be hired by the Attorney General in consultation with the Governor’s office, the Speaker of the House and the President pro tempore of the Senate.

“There is nothing independent about the investigation,” said Obenshain. “It is nothing more than a partisan whitewash of a scandal that has dogged this Administration for the past year. It is pure partisan damage control. There appear to be nearly a dozen official inquiries into misconduct by the Governor’s Parole Board and this will address none of that. It is carefully cabined to inquire into the OSIG’s actions in looking into a single complaint.”

Obenshain concluded, “If the Governor were serious, he would have called for an investigation into the Parole Board misconduct as well as the allegations of an organized cover-up. If he were really serious, he would fire the whole Parole Board.”

Senator Obenshain represents the twenty-sixth district in the Virginia Senate. The district includes the city of Harrisonburg and the counties of Warren, Shenandoah, Page, Rappahannock and Rockingham (part).  He is a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee and is the former Chairman of the Virginia State Crime Commission.

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Senator Obenshain Comments on Democrats’ Campaign to Block Parole Transparency

February 27, 2021

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONTACT:  Jennifer Aulgur

PHONE: (540) 437-1451

EMAIL:  [email protected]

Senator Mark Obenshain Comments on Democrats’ Campaign to Block Parole Board Transparency 

RICHMOND, VA, February 26, 2021 – Senator Mark Obenshain (R-Rockingham) commented today on the General Assembly Democrats to water down legislation (HB2167 and SB1104) requiring accountability and transparency from Governor Northam’s Parole Board.

“Today, Democrats passed a conference report on so-called parole transparency legislation that does little but give the illusion of reform. The Northam Administration is desperate to look like it is doing something to address the growing Parole Board scandal and it urged Democrats to pass a bill that won’t provide any additional transparency until long after Northam and his Parole Board are but tiny specks in the rearview mirror.

House Bill 2167 contains a provision that will delay the implementation of any additional transparency until July 1, 2022. I could have lived with any of the other changes proposed to the bill, but I will not be complicit in a cynical effort to give the Governor the ability to claim that he supports more transparency when we all know that he does not.

This Governor and his administration have consistently endeavored to shield his Parole Board from criticism for its pattern of improper actions. The executive branch has circled the wagons, hidden reports from the state’s watchdog, engaged in efforts to silence dissent and now has enlisted his allies in the legislature in efforts to advance a “transparency” bill that is anything but transparent.

This is part of an effort by the Governor and his accomplices to block any legislation that remotely resembles any meaningful reform that would expose the actions of the Parole Board to any additional sunlight or accountability. I will not be a party to this effort.

Revelations about the Parole Board – both from last May and October, as well as the recent allegations that surfaced this week – point to the need for Governor Northam to clean house and immediately fire the Parole Board members.  Additionally, these repeated transgressions necessitate we act now to impose measures that will ensure accountability and transparency for the Board moving forward.

This is what I attempted to accomplish by filing legislation in the 2020 Special Session, and again this year with my SB 1104.  This legislation received unanimous bipartisan approval in the Senate last year and again this year.  However, the House of Delegates amended the bill to make the provisions within it little but window dressing with phony transparency. SB 1104 has died because I would not agree to these amendments.

The Democrats’ amendments to the bills, would no longer require the Parole Board to confirm or certify to anyone that it has complied with its obligations to notify victims and Commonwealth Attorneys of the impending release of felons convicted of serious crimes. These are the very laws that the Parole Board has been accused of consistently violating and this is the one provision in the legislation that could have prevented further releases of criminals without providing notice to crime victims.

I declined to sign the conference report and asked that it be rejected so that we could get a new conference that would strip the delayed enactment clause. That effort failed on a 20-18 vote*,” Obenshain said.

*One Senator failed to vote on the conference report, but filed a statement that his intention was to vote against the conference report, which would have resulted in a 20-19 vote.

Senator Obenshain represents the twenty-sixth district in the Virginia Senate. The district includes the city of Harrisonburg and the counties of Warren, Shenandoah, Page, Rappahannock and Rockingham (part).  He is a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee and is the former Chairman of the Virginia State Crime Commission.

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Senator Obenshain Comments on New Parole Board Revelations

February 25, 2021

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONTACT:  Jennifer Aulgur

PHONE: (540) 437-1451

EMAIL:  [email protected]

Senator Mark Obenshain Comments on New Parole Board Revelations 

HARRISONBURG, VA, January 24, 2021 – Today, Senator Mark Obenshain (R-Rockingham) commented on WTVR Channel 6 reporter John Burkett’s explosive story detailing more wrongdoings by the Virginia Parole Board, the Office of Inspector General (OSIG), and the apparent attempts to cover up these wrongdoings:

John Burkett’s story revealed that the Virginia Inspector General excised seven pages from a report detailing the Parole Board’s wrongdoings with respect to the parole case of convicted killer Vincent Martin. The first version has been reported to contain shocking findings of lies, unethical behavior, and violations of law.

Obenshain said, “There are three main issues here: misconduct by the Parole Board, violations of the duty of the OSIG to maintain independence, and a clearly coordinated effort to cover up the misconduct to avoid political damage and embarrassment.”

Tuesday night’s story details charges that former Parole Board Chair Adrienne Bennett, now a Northam-appointed judge, asked at least two employees to falsify a report. It also suggests that the OSIG concluded she lied to Secretary of Public Safety Brian Moran. Further, the story refers to another finding that Bennett told at least one Parole Board employee she was purposely going to secure the release Martin and certain other inmates near the end of her term because of the backlash those decisions would bring.

The OSIG is statutorily obligated to study and report to the Governor’s Chief of Staff, the Speaker, Majority and Minority Leaders of the House, and the President Pro Tempore, Majority and Minority Leaders of the Senate problems related to the mismanagement or operation of a state agency.

“In direct contradiction to its statutory responsibilities, the Inspector General appears to have deliberately withheld highly relevant information and damning findings about its investigation of the Parole Board,” said Obenshain. “We should be demanding answers about how that report came to be sanitized. Was it at the instigation of the Governor’s office? Was it ordered by the Attorney General’s office?”

“An Inspector General is supposed to be an independent watchdog, free from political influence.  When an Inspector General is persuaded to whitewash his investigation report or to give a sanitized version to the opposition, nobody knows or learns about the fraud, waste, abuse or corruption.  That is certainly what seems to have happened here.  It smells like a deliberate and coordinated effort to keep the public from learning about corruption in the Parole Board.

“The Governor, the Inspector General and perhaps the Attorney General have a lot of explaining to do. So do Judge Bennett, current Parole Board Chair Chapman, and any other member of the Parole Board who has been complicit in this growing web of misconduct and deceit.”

Senator Obenshain represents the twenty-sixth district in the Virginia Senate. The district includes the city of Harrisonburg and the counties of Warren, Shenandoah, Page, Rappahannock and Rockingham (part).  He is a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee and is the former Chairman of the Virginia State Crime Commission

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