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Loudoun board approves revised staff aide policy

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The Loudoun County Board of Supervisors approved revisions to the county’s policy for staff aides Wednesday, establishing rules that expressly forbid aides from engaging in political or fundraising activities using county resources or while they are on county time.

The board approved the revisions
8 to zero, with Chairman Scott K. York (R-At Large) absent because of travel.

Supervisor Ralph Buona (R-Ashburn), who led the county Finance, Government Services and Operations Committee’s efforts to amend the policy, described the process as “a big rewrite” with “some very significant changes.”

“I think we have to look at the big picture,” Buona said. “What we’re trying to accomplish here is to make this policy crystal-clear as to what is permitted, what is not permitted, what recourse aides may have.”

The revised policy says staff aides “may not use county resources for political or campaign activity.” It also prohibits aides from conducting “political activity or campaigning of any type while working in a paid status for the county.”

Staff aides also cannot be compelled to work on a board member’s “private enterprises” or other business activities and are not permitted to run personal errands for their supervisors, the new policy stipulates.

At the suggestion of Supervisor Kenneth “Ken” Reid (R-Leesburg), the policy was also amended to say that aides are not allowed to raise money for community or charitable organizations while on paid county time.

Part-time or full-time staff aides, who are not protected by the county’s grievance policy because they serve at the will of their supervisors, are also provided with a method of recourse under the new guidelines. If they think they have been subjected to “actionable behavior” by a board member, they may approach the county administrator with any matter of concern, and the complaint will be referred to the board’s leadership for review, the new policy says.

Supervisors voted Oct. 3 to review the board’s staff aide policy after a former aide to Supervisor Eugene Delgaudio (R-Sterling) alleged in a Washington Post article that she had been forced to spend the majority of her time early in the year making calls to schedule fundraising meetings for the supervisor.

Delgaudio, who is the subject of a criminal investigation led by Arlington County Commonwealth’s Attorney Theo Stamos (D), denies that he used his public office to benefit his private campaign, maintaining that his fundraising efforts were solely to benefit a youth football league.

Delgaudio said Wednesday that he did not appreciate the implication by some board members that the policy revisions were a result of his actions. “Allegations . . . are simply that,” he said. “I am not surrendering or waiving my right to due process.”

Buona said the policy “is not addressed at anyone specifically” but was a necessary improvement.

“The old policy did not draw clear lines; the edge was about as sharp as a steel girder,” he said. “What I’m trying to do is make it as sharp as a razor blade.”

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