Political action committee appeals Delgaudio FOIA denial

December 5, 2012

A Loudoun County political action committee is appealing the denial of its Freedom of Information Act request for documents related to the ongoing investigation of Loudoun County Supervisor Eugene A. Delgaudio (R-Sterling).

At a hearing Nov. 28, Loudoun District Court Judge Dean S. Worcester sided with County Attorney Jack Roberts and ruled that the documents requested by the Real Advocate political action committee were not subject to the Freedom of Information Act because they were part of an ongoing criminal investigation.

Former Loudoun County supervisor Stevens Miller, executive director of the PAC, and his wife, communications director Elizabeth Miller, argued that the FOIA request had been submitted before a formal criminal investigation of Delgaudio was opened in November.

An appeal of the decision was filed in Loudoun Circuit Court shortly after the ruling, Stevens Miller said. As of Tuesday, a hearing in the case had not been scheduled.

Delgaudio is the subject of a criminal investigation led by Arlington County Commonwealth’s Attorney Theo Stamos (D), who was appointed last month to review allegations made by the supervisor’s former board aide, Donna Mateer.

Mateer said that she spent the majority of her time early in the year scheduling fundraising meetings for Delgaudio. Her accusations, first reported in The Washington Post in September, led the Board of Supervisors to vote unanimously Oct. 3 to pursue an administrative review of Delgaudio. That process was suspended after the criminal investigation was opened in November.

Shortly after Mateer was fired in March, she provided numerous documents to Board of Supervisors Chairman Scott K. York (R), including fundraising spreadsheets and e-mail records related to her allegations.

Those documents — the subject of Real Advocate PAC’s FOIA request — have caused additional controversy in recent weeks, as local Democrats and critics of Delgaudio have questioned why the records were not immediately turned over to the county attorney and Loudoun Commonwealth’s Attorney Jim Plowman.

Plowman received the records early last month, and subsequently requested the appointment of Stamos to oversee the investigation.

At a well-attended town hall meeting Nov. 20, York was questioned repeatedly about the delay. The chairman apologized for failing to give the records to the attorneys but said he had been under the impression that Stamos would have contacted Mateer directly to request the same evidence.

Charles King, Delgaudio’s attorney, also questioned York’s actions in a statement. King said that the choice to keep the documents was York’s alone, an admission that King said should “dispel any notion [that] Supervisor Delgaudio acted behind the scenes to derail an inquiry.”

York owed the public a “more forthcoming explanation” of his conduct, King said.

“It may be significant later that the chairman kept the evidence, shielded his role in starting a criminal investigation and justified his actions by throwing the commonwealth’s attorney under the bus,” he said.

King expressed confidence that the investigation would show no evidence of wrongdoing by Delgaudio. “Everybody needs to be patient and let Ms. Stamos and the investigators do their jobs,” he said.

Stevens Miller issued a statement Friday saying that Stamos received Mateer’s records last week. 

“The right person finally has the information she should have had all along,” he said. “Any damage done by the time this took, and any blame for how long that’s been, should be laid at Chairman York’s doorstep and nowhere else.”

Miller also said Monday that the PAC would continue its efforts to obtain copies of the documents.

“If [Roberts] has given [Stamos] all the copies he has, and uses that to suggest he can no longer produce the records because he doesn’t have them, we will be asking the court to order the special prosecutor to produce those records for us to copy, and we will be seeking sanctions against the county,” Miller said in a statement. “We will not allow the county to play ‘hide the ball’ in response to its duties of transparency in government under the Code of Virginia.”

Caitlin Gibson is a local news and features writer for The Washington Post.
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