RICHMOND, Va. — State police said Friday that they are looking into allegations, raised in a television news report, of drug-related wrongdoing by Sen. Charles S. Robb in the 1980s while he was governor of Virginia.
After Gov. L. Douglas Wilder's office denied that an investigation was underway, state police called their probe an "inquiry."
Robb has been plagued by allegations that he attended parties where drugs were used openly. In a book released Thursday, Virginia Beach private investigator Billy Franklin wrote that Robb repeatedly used cocaine when he was governor from 1982 to 1986.
"We are conducting an inquiry," state police spokesman Charlie Vaughan said. "An inquiry is simply a contact by us with the people making the allegations to confirm the allegations and to ask them about the allegations."
When asked if the state police would look into allegations that Robb used cocaine while he was governor, Vaughan had told the Roanoke Times & World-News: "That's all-inclusive. . . . Anything that indicates a criminal allegation."
Tai Collins, 28, a former Miss Virginia-USA from Roanoke, claims that she had an affair with Robb, 51, in 1984, while he was governor.
Vaughan said that the probe began as a result of numerous allegations made by Collins and others, including statements broadcast April 28 on the NBC News program "Expose."
On the show, Collins did not accuse Robb of using cocaine. Others quoted on the show said that Robb attended parties where cocaine was used in his presence, but no one said that Robb used cocaine.
Franklin's book, "Tough Enough: The Cocaine Investigation of United States Sen. Chuck Robb," was not mentioned on the program.
Wilder's press secretary, Laura Dillard, said in a statement that "we have been informed by the state police that they are not investigating anybody--period. Other than determining that there was no investigation, the governor's office has not discussed the matter with the state police."
Michelle Prosser, another Wilder spokeswoman, refused to explain the contradictory official statements.
Robb has denied having an affair with Collins. When asked again Friday if he had ever used drugs or been in the presence of people using drugs, Robb said: "Never. Absolutely. Categorically."
"The thing is surreal," the senator said during an impromptu news conference in Washington. "Salvador Dali couldn't have created a scenario like the one we're going through."
Robb, a Democrat who was a son-in-law of President Lyndon B. Johnson, on Thursday denounced Franklin's book as "obviously libelous."
Christine Bridge, a Robb staff member, declined to comment on the inquiry until she could find out who requested it. She said Friday that she found it unusual that the state police would initiate an inquiry based upon allegations made in a television show.
Vaughan said that the state police initiated the probe. Police will interview everyone who made an allegation and check to see if complaints were made to local police, he said.
If the inquiry indicates criminal offenses by Robb or any other public official, the state police would then have to get authorization from the governor, the attorney general or a grand jury to conduct a full criminal investigation, Vaughan said.