Miyares appoints Kentucky attorney as UVA’s new top lawyer

After the controversial firing of his predecessor, a new top lawyer is coming to the University of Virginia.

On Friday, Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares announced that Kentucky attorney Cliff Iler has been appointed senior assistant attorney general and university counsel to UVA.

“Cliff is a brilliant attorney with over a decade of experience in higher education and health care law. I am confident he will be an excellent addition to the University of Virginia and serve the students, faculty, staff, and Commonwealth well,” said Miyares.

Iler, who currently serves as Deputy General Counsel at the University of Kentucky, replaces Tim Heaphy, who was fired in January 2022.

Before he was fired in January by the newly installed attorney general, Heaphy had been on leave from his position at UVA to work as an investigator for the U.S. House of Representatives panel investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol.

Some Democrats in Virginia claim Heaphy’s removal by the state AG was politically motivated.

“This is purely payback for Jan. 6 — there is no other reason that makes any sense,” said Scott Surovell, a top Democrat in the Virginia State Senate. “In our state, we normally leave those decisions to the school’s board of visitors and president.”

In addition to Heaphy, Miyares also fired George Mason University counsel Brian Walther.

In Virginia, the attorney general has authority to appoint and fire a wide range of lawyers across the state, including at state colleges and universities. Still, lawyers at academic posts are seldom replaced when a new governor or attorney general takes over.

Myares’ spokeswoman Victoria LaCivita said in January that Mr. Heaphy had been a “controversial” hire and that the “decision was made after reviewing the legal decisions made over the last couple of years.”

In addition to his positions at the University of Kentucky, Iler previously worked as associate general counsel for MCG Health, a hospital associated with the Medical College of Georgia.

Joshua Barlow

Joshua Barlow is a writer, composer, and producer who has worked for CGTN, Atlantic Public Media, and National Public Radio. He lives in Northeast Washington, D.C., where he pays attention to developments in his neighborhood, economic issues, and social justice.

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