September 28, 2012

EUGENE A. DELGAUDIO, a Republican member of Loudoun County’s Board of Supervisors, acknowledges ordering staffers in his office to comb through spreadsheets of political donors — on county time and in county offices. His motives, he told The Post’s Caitlin Gibson, were aboveboard and nonpolitical: to raise money for a boys’ football league in his district.

In fact, league officials told us, Mr. Delgaudio sent one fundraising letter on the league’s behalf, several years ago, and occasionally referred league officials to potential donors; in one instance, the referral yielded a $35,000 donation to the league. Mr. Delgaudio says he sent other fundraising letters as well.

As The Post’s reporting makes clear, however, his real purpose in what appears to be a taxpayer-financed fundraising effort was to advance his political prospects and agenda.

Over the 13 years that Mr. Delgaudio has represented the Sterling district, near Dulles International Airport in eastern Loudoun, that agenda has included aggressive and frequently acerbic homophobic positions. (Airport pat-downs by Transportation Security Administration personnel, he says, provide a dream job for “militant homosexuals.”) His bombast has extended to other pet peeves, such as Metro, which he calls “evil.” Mr. Delgaudio’s comportment has earned little credit for Loudoun County.

But using taxpayer-funded resources to raise money for political uses goes beyond bias or buffoonery. It is a violation of public trust and ethics, as well as of Loudoun County’s policies. The FBI has made inquiries.

Mr. Delgaudio insists he has done nothing wrong and that he has been successful in raising charitable funds not only for the football league but also for a local elementary school and other causes. Yet he acknowledges that, in approaching several dozen potential donors first contacted by his county-funded staff, he presented his own campaign literature and pitched his own political ideas at length — all in the service, he says, of angling for charitable gifts.

If that sounds ambiguous, it is. Three donors contacted by The Post said it was clear to them that Mr. Delgaudio was soliciting funds for his own political purposes. At least two of his aides, disturbed that their ostensibly nonpartisan jobs had been turned to political ends, resigned. A third, who complained to county personnel officials about the fundraising activities, was fired the same day by Mr. Delgaudio.

In addition to his position as a Loudoun County supervisor, Mr. Delgaudio’s other job involves raising money to vilify gay men and lesbians through a right-wing group called Public Advocate of the United States, which he leads. The Southern Poverty Law Center says Public Advocate is the only one of more than 1,000 hate groups in the country led by an elected official.

It’s unclear whether Mr. Delgaudio commingles fundraising for Public Advocate with that for his political campaigns and charity; Loudoun residents have a right to know. What is clear is that Mr. Delgaudio, who won a fourth term in a low-turnout election last year and has three more years to serve, is tainting the reputation of the county and its board of supervisors.