April 26, 2011 - 11:50 am

BY WESLEY P. HESTER

Even before Tim Kaine jumped in the U.S. Senate race, the National Republican Senatorial Committee made it clear that they’d be attacking him for his role as Democratic National Committee chairman.

Now the NRSC has made its next strategy known, filing several Freedom of Information Act requests related to Kaine’s decision as governor to transfer convicted double-murder Jens Soering to a German prison.

The FOIA requests — common in any campaign as a method of reseraching the opponent for vulnerabilities — were shared with the press this week, making it plain that the NRSC is trying to raise questions of impropriety.    

The decision to transfer Soering was one of Kaine’s last before leaving office in 2010, and has proven one of his most controversial. Soering, who is serving two life sentences for killing a Bedford County couple in 1985, might have been released after two years in Germany.

But the transfer never happened, having been revoked by Gov. Bob McDonnell shortly after taking office.

Kaine explained his decision earlier this month as primarily a fiscal consideration, telling reporters: “I basically decided, look, Virginia taxpayers have borne the cost of this German citizen’s incarceration for 20-plus years. I thought it was time for German citizens to bear the cost of his incarceration.”

The NRSC has filed Freedom of Information Act requests with the U.S. Department of Justice, U.S. Department of State, Buckingham Correctional Center, Brunswick Correctional Center and the Office of Governor Tim Kaine for a variety of records relating to Soering.

The requests seek correspondence between Kaine and those offices leading up to the decision in early 2010.

“Outwardly it’s difficult to understand why Tim Kaine would grant leniency to a convicted double-murderer and his explanation to date has rightfully confounded many Virginians,” said NRSC Communications Director Brian Walsh. “We’d simply like to know if there is more to this story, particularly given Kaine’s close, personal ties to the Obama Administration and Mr. Soering’s diplomatic connections.”

One wonders if a Willie Horton-style attack ad is in the making. Or will it be more like the one Jerry Kilgore ran when running against Kaine for governor, in which he alleged that Kaine said Hitler didn’t qualify for the death penalty? That one didn’t work out as well.