Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman John F. Herrity, who in July asked some of Northern Virginia's most prominent land developers to raise money for his reelection campaign, yesterday appeared to revise his position and said he will "discourage" developers who have pending land use applications from raising money on his behalf.
Herrity's statement came in response to an inquiry about a letter sent out on Sequoia Building Corp. stationery that sought contributions from the firm's subcontractors for Herrity and two other Republican incumbents.
Sequoia is a major Northern Virginia developer. Its sister company, Webb-Sequoia Inc., is building Dulles Corner, a $600 million, 22-building complex near Dulles International Airport that will include offices, hotels and a shopping center.
Herrity, who is seeking his fourth term as board chairman, is running against Supervisor Audrey Moore, a Democrat who has represented the Annandale District since 1972. Herrity has long been a champion of development in Fairfax; Moore is a leading advocate of slowing the pace of growth. The election is Nov. 3.
The candidates have said they will not accept direct contributions from developers with applications pending before the county board. Moore has said she has not asked developers to raise money for her. She could not be reached for comment yesterday.
When initially contacted about the Sequoia letter, Herrity said: "I don't know anything about it, nor would I condone it. I wouldn't encourage Sequoia; in fact I would discourage them."
In a second conversation yesterday, Herrity said that there are "certain circumstances" -- including those involving firms with pending land use applications -- in which he would not encourage fund raising. But he added: "Our clear policy is to encourage people to go out and raise money."
The issue of developers' contributions to county board members, whose votes on land use projects can mean large profits or losses for developers, has dogged Herrity since the day he announced his candidacy by declaring: "We are not going to be financially linked to developers in terms of this campaign."
Herrity has declined to furnish The Washington Post with a written statement of his policy on contributions. Early in his campaign, a spokesman for Herrity said he would not accept funds from anyone involved in the development industry.
Later, Herrity seemed to narrow that policy when he said he would not accept donations from anyone who had recently filed a land use application with the county.
The Post reported last month that on July 30 Herrity met with 25 of Northern Virginia's most prominent business people -- including developers -- to solicit their help in fund raising. Herrity said at the time that asking developers to help with his fund raising did not contradict his policy of refusing contributions from developers.
William S. Stella, one of the three Sequoia contract managers who signed the Aug. 21 letter that was addressed to "Sequoia subcontractors," said he did not know how much money the mailing had raised.
The letter names "three important candidates that require our help," Herrity and supervisors Nancy K. Falck (R-Dranesville) and Elaine McConnell (R-Springfield).