State Sen. Amanda Chase, R-Chesterfield, used the Capitol Police for transportation so frequently during this year’s General Assembly session that its chief asked the House and Senate clerks to remind lawmakers about accepted procedures.
Chase’s use of police for transportation was not just limited to the 47-day session.
In the second half of last year, Chase’s office called Capitol Police to have them transport her several times to Virginia Commonwealth University Medical Center so she could visit an aide who was in the hospital, to the Carytown business district, and for trips that were a brief walk from Capitol Square, according to records the Richmond Times-Dispatch obtained in a Freedom of Information Act request.
According to police records, Chase or her aides received more than 20 police transports during the General Assembly session — all of them outside the established protocol outlined in a Jan. 24 email from Senate Clerk Susan Clarke Schaar to senators that “the Capitol Police staff are not to be used by members or staff for personal transport.”
Chase, still dealing with fallout from what a police report described as her becoming irate at a Capitol Police officer on March 22, said no one had explained any rules about calling the police for transportation. She said her understanding was that it was acceptable to call for rides for legislative functions downtown near Capitol Square. She said she had no reason to think she was doing anything wrong.
“I don’t know who told me that or if that was my understanding. And I was never told differently by any member of the Capitol Police, ever,” she said. “How am I supposed to know if nobody tells me?”
All of her uses were for legislative and not personal purposes, she said.
In the month of July, Chase accounted for 11 of 17 transportation requests to Capitol Police.
During the General Assembly session in January, Chase’s office called Capitol Police for transportation to take the senator to lobbying firms and to hotels for receptions — and sometimes from one side of Capitol Square to the other, a trip that takes just minutes to walk.
An aide to Chase also used Capitol Police for transportation.
Officers’ concerns made their way to Col. Anthony S. Pike, chief of the Capitol Police.
“There were no other transports involving [General Assembly] members or state employees that created any concern. The concern came from the high frequency of transport requests from Senator Chase and her staff,” Pike said.
“Once it came to my attention, I reported to the House and Senate clerks and requested that they re-engage or emphasize to the members protocol for transports.”
According to procedure created by the legislature’s Joint Rules Committee, Capitol Police will transport lawmakers to and from their session residence or between the Capitol and Pocahontas Building. The Pocahontas Building, which faces Main Street and also has an entrance facing the Capitol on Bank Street, houses lawmakers’ offices.
The rules were put in place in the late 1980s after a legislator used the police for frequent transportation.
In her Jan. 24 email, Schaar told senators that Capitol Police “are not allowed to transport you to restaurants, receptions or buildings other than the Capitol and the Pocahontas Building. If you need motorized transportation for these purposes, please use Uber or Lyft.”
On Feb. 7, House Clerk G. Paul Nardo sent an email to House members reminding them that those who had special needs or needed quick transport between the Pocahontas Building and the Capitol could use a regular police shuttle, and the clerk’s office also had a golf cart they could request for that purpose.
After Schaar’s email, Chase requested six police rides during the session and in a seventh request, one of her aides called the police Feb. 23 for a ride from a parking lot to the Pocahontas Building. The session adjourned Feb. 24.
Chase said she did not recall seeing the clerk’s email and that no one ever said anything directly to her.
“I cannot be held responsible for what I don’t know,” she said. “No one ever told me that I could not do this.”
As previously reported by the Richmond Times-Dispatch, according to a police report, Chase berated a Capitol Police officer, using obscenities, on March 22 when the officer would not allow Chase to park in a secure area outside the Capitol.
According to the report, Chase made disparaging comments about Schaar, told the officer “Do you know who I am?” and refused to move her car, blocking buses that needed to get into the area.
Chase initially denied the officer’s account in the report and said of the officer, an African American woman: “I guess she thought I was white privilege.” Chase later admitted on a radio show that she did use the F-word, and said she didn’t remember word for word what she said.
Chase has asked for an apology from the officer. She said other officers had previously allowed her to park in the secured area. She has said she doesn’t want to park in her assigned spot in a parking deck across the street because she doesn’t feel safe.
Her fellow Republican senators wrote a letter to Pike apologizing and expressing support for Capitol Police.
The calls to police from Chase’s office hit a peak on Jan. 23, the day before Schaar’s email to senators.
On that day, Chase’s office requested a ride for her across Capitol Square to the Patrick Henry Building at 7:23 a.m. At 7:54 a.m. Chase called the police to take her to McGuireWoods at 800 E. Canal St. and then back to the Pocahontas Building, according to police records.
At 6:08 p.m., she called police to drive her to the Omni Hotel, 100 S. 12th St., and then at 6:57 p.m., she called to have the police drive her from the Omni to the Delta Hotel, 555 E. Canal St.
The event at the Omni was the Virginia Chamber’s Old Dominion Assembly Legislative Reception. The event at the Delta was the Legislative Seafood and Wine Reception.
Police were friendly and always transported her, Chase said.
“I don’t understand why, if this was an issue ... that at the front end of the phone call when I’m calling Capitol dispatch they wouldn’t say, ‘I’m sorry Senator Chase, that’s outside of our purview,’ ” she said.
“Not Susan Schaar, not the Senate majority leader, not a soul came to me and said, ‘Hey, honey, you’re not supposed to use Capitol Police that way.’ I would have immediately stopped.”
Asked if she’s considered using Uber, Chase noted that former Sen. Steve Martin, R-Chesterfield, whom Chase defeated in a June 2015 primary, later drove for Uber, and said she worries about the potential for him to pick her up.
“That’s not a risk that I’ve wanted to take.”
Meanwhile, Chase continues dealing with fallout from the parking incident.
After she recently posted a photo of herself at an event with Chesterfield County sheriff’s deputies, Sheriff Karl Leonard posted on Facebook to make clear that he wasn’t endorsing Chase and stood by law enforcement.
Leonard said Chase then sent him a text message implying she could hinder his re-election bid this year.
Chase’s March 22 incident “could have been easily resolved with a quick admission and apology, and unfortunately that didn’t happen,” Leonard said. “I had to make clear that I do not support her actions in the way that whole incident happened with the Capitol Police officer.”