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All Opinions Are Local
Posted at 11:47 AM ET, 06/25/2013

Va.’s weak laws are Delgaudio’s friend


In yet another surprising chapter in the curious political journey of Eugene A. Delgaudio (R-Sterling), the iconoclastic Loudoun County supervisor has weathered a special grand jury probe — albeit after taking a few wrist slaps.

The grand jury, convened as part of an investigation by Arlington County Commonwealth’s Attorney Theo Stamos (D), decided against recommending prosecution of Delgaudio, who had been accused of using public time for his anti-gay conservative advocacy group, the Public Advocate. Other irregularities under scrutiny involved campaign financing and allegations of a hostile work environment. The probe was sparked when Donna Mateer, a former part-time county aide, told The Post that Delgaudio had her spend much of her time scheduling fundraising meetings.

The grand jury concluded that it couldn’t really do much because the law involving misusing political assets applies to “full-time” public employees, while supervisors such as Delgaudio are part-time. There were also concerns that the statute of limitations had passed.

Never mind, in other words.

The whole episode shows just how lightly Virginia law deals with public officials. There are many loopholes in the rules. A huge one that has been disclosed recently involves gift-giving to relatives of full-time public officials such as Gov. Robert F. McDonnell.

McDonnell’s daughter was given $15,000 for a wedding meal by Jonnie R. Williams, the head of a dietary supplement company called Star Scientific. The Richmond Times-Dispatch reported today that Williams also treated Maureen McDonnell, the governor’s wife, to a New York shopping spree for designer clothing and accessories, including high-ticket items from Oscar de la Renta. But such gifts are not illegal under Virginia law.

Delgaudio has a long history of stirring up controversies that only serve to divert from what any supervisor should be doing in a county like Loudoun, which has seen explosive growth over past decades and has plenty of real problems. The supervisor seems far more interested in pushing his divisive lobby, which the Southern Poverty Law Center has deemed a hate group.

Yet voters in Loudoun’s Sterling District have kept him in office since 1999. In 2011, he got more than 52 percent of the vote.

At the end of the day, with Virginia’s accountability laws so weak, the only lever that can be affect whether an official stays in office is that of the polling place. For whatever reason, it keeps working for Eugene Delgaudio.

Peter Galuszka blogs at Bacon’s Rebellion. The Local Blog Network is a group of bloggers from around the D.C. region who have agreed to make regular contributions to All Opinions Are Local.

By  |  11:47 AM ET, 06/25/2013

 
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