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Democrats suing over Republican eavesdropping want to question key aides to GOP Attorney General Jerry Kilgore.
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Date published: 7/27/2004
By GEORGE WHITEHURST
The man running Republican Jerry Kilgore's gubernatorial campaign acknowledged yesterday that he knew that a state GOP operative had eavesdropped on a Democratic teleconference within 24 hours of the call.
Ken Hutcheson said in an interview that he discussed the March 22, 2002, call with Edmund A. Matricardi III, a Spotsylvania County resident who was then the executive director of the Republican Party of Virginia.
Documents filed as part of a pending Democratic civil suit also reveal that Anne P. Petera, Attorney General Kilgore's chief of staff, listened to a tape Matricardi made of the call.
The 30-plus Democratic plaintiffs have asked a judge for permission to question Hutcheson, Petera and others in preparation for a December trial.
Hutcheson said that on March 23 Matricardi showed him notes of the conference call, in which Democrats were talking about overturning a GOP redistricting effort. Sen. Dick Saslaw was complaining that Gov. Mark Warner needed to show more spine in fighting Republicans.
"You know, the whole 2-x-4 backbone thing," Hutcheson said.
Hutcheson said he requested a copy of Matricardi's notes from the call because he didn't know the eavesdropping was illegal.
In an e-mail to The Free Lance-Star later, Hutcheson said that "as a partisan, I was admittedly intrigued but did not read the transcripts or receive copies of them."
Hutcheson apparently had a change of heart and decided to warn Kilgore later that day. "He immediately stopped me and said that Bernie McNamee, his chief counsel, was handling the matter," he wrote in the e-mail.
In a second e-mail, Hutcheson further condemned Matricardi. "When I called the A.G., I still had no idea what Ed did was illegal, just that it was wrong," he wrote.
The Democratic motion to allow more witnesses accuses Petera of listening to the call tape, encouraging Matricardi and seeking copies of his notes.
Petera refused to discuss her actions. "I'll do it in court, and I'll do it under oath," she said.
Other Kilgore associates that Democrats want to question include McNamee and state Appeals Court Judge Elizabeth McClanahan, who was a deputy attorney general in March 2002. A member of McClanahan's staff said she couldn't discuss pending litigation.
Kilgore's office fielded inquiries via e-mail.