Loudoun Official Tried To Capitalize On Contacts
Friday, June 1, 2007
Loudoun County Supervisor Bruce E. Tulloch has repeatedly tried to leverage contacts he has developed as a public official to promote his personal interests, according to interviews and records.
Less than a year after he voted for billionaire Sheila Johnson's planned resort in Loudoun, he named her as a potential investor in a South Carolina coastal resort and implied he could act as a go-between, one of the developers said.
In another instance, Tulloch provided one of Johnson's top executives a list of potential corporate sponsors for her professional women's basketball team, the Washington Mystics, that executive said.
Tulloch, 47, also asked another developer who has had major projects before the county to help him find land for a Harley-Davidson dealership he hoped to open, according to the developer.
In a metropolitan area that has been reshaped by rapid growth in recent years, Loudoun has been the fastest-growing county, putting local officials in the role of gatekeepers to billions of dollars of development. Throughout the region, the actions of elected leaders in overseeing development has become a prominent political issue.
Tulloch's relationships with people whose projects or clients have come before his board reflect a coziness that has become routine among some Loudoun officials and the building industry.
In February, law enforcement authorities announced a far-reaching probe by the U.S. attorney's office into potential public corruption in Loudoun.
One focus of the investigation is Tulloch's successful push to get the county to spend $13.5 million in a land deal that paid a sizable commission to his political mentor, Dale Polen Myers, a real estate consultant who has been involved in major county projects. Federal officials have subpoenaed documents related to the transaction for a grand jury in Alexandria, according to an individual who received a subpoena and spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the investigation.
Investigators are also looking into the activities of Lawrence S. Beerman II, a former planning commission chairman who cast favorable votes for companies with whom he had business ties, according to a person who has been interviewed by the FBI. Beerman and Myers have declined to comment.
In January, The Washington Post published articles about Beerman, Tulloch and other former or current county officials and their ties to development interests in Loudoun.
Tulloch's status in Loudoun has made him an important figure to business interests. Since taking office in 2004, he has headed the Republican majority that has controlled key board decisions. In that time, he has forged relationships with consultants, home builders, real estate lawyers, sports figures and executives who needed his vote.
Voting for friends or political allies is not, in itself, improper under Virginia conflict of interest laws.