ONCE, WHEN LOUDOUN COUNTY was a sleepy rural exurb, it was possible to ignore the antics of Eugene Delgaudio, the homophobic buffoon on the county’s Board of Supervisors who once suggested that airport pat-downsprovide an erotic frisson to some Transportation Security Administration screeners.
Since Mr. Delgaudio, a Republican, was first elected to the board in 1999, the county has boomed; its population has doubled to about 340,000; and it has become one of the richest places in America. But Mr. Delgaudio, reelected three times to represent the county’s Sterling district, has continued to conduct himself as if no one took notice of his clownish persona, unhinged, hateful rhetoric and, it turns out, sleazy public ethics.
He was wrong. Last month, a state grand jury took the highly unusual step of issuing a damning report on Mr. Delgaudio’s shenanigans in abusing the authority of his office. Specifically, the grand jurors suspected him of using his taxpayer-funded county office as an outpost of his political campaign, thereby putting public resources at the service of his reelection, and blurring the line between his elected office and a gay-bashing organization he runs, as well as verbally abusing his employees.
Last week Loudoun’s all-Republican board, correctly concluding that it must police its own members, followed suit by formally censuring Mr. Delgaudio. The board stripped him of office staff, barred him from serving on any local boards or commissions and seized control of his annual office budget of about $120,000. On his own authority, Mr. Delgaudio will now be allowed to use the office copier, up to a limit of $30 per month, and not much else.
Mr. Delgaudio, who specializes in public indignation, has played the victim and stressed that the grand jury did not, after all, indict him. That’s true. But the absence of criminal charges owes plenty to what the grand jurors regarded as Virginia’s loophole-riddled ethics laws. Among other breaks, the law on misuse of public assets covers only full-time public employees. Since supervisors in Loudoun make a modest salary (about $42,000) and tend to have other jobs, Mr. Delgaudio is not considered full time.
The grand jurors made a special point of noticing that Mr. Delgaudio, preoccupied as he is by what he regards as the radical homosexual menace, has little time to deal with the actual problems of his constituents. This has been the real nub of the Delgaudio problem all these years — the man is not a public servant in any meaningful sense of the words.
In fact, he is a clown masquerading as a politician. He has repeatedly embarrassed the county and constituents he serves, saddling Loudoun with an ill-deserved aura of hayseedery. He owes his longevity in politics mainly to the fact that just a few thousand voters in each district turn out for the off-year supervisors’ elections in Loudoun; most of those who are eligible pay no attention. With luck, they will be on to Mr. Delgaudio, should he run in 2015, and send him packing.