Loudoun Board of Supervisors Chairman Dale Polen Myers (R-At Large) paid a $1,000 fine to end a four-month investigation into her failure to report a non-cash contribution to her reelection campaign.
Although Myers said she is relieved that she can now focus on her reelection campaign, she said she is considering a "legal examination of the charges' origin and handling."
At issue was whether Myers violated state law by failing to include a telephone survey conducted by a political action committee, Local Business Alliance of Virginia, as an in-kind donation.
The results of the poll about candidates and issues were given to Myers by an alliance official, Richard McCary, who doubled as her campaign manager. State law requires candidates to report contributions of goods or services in addition to monetary contributions.
Henrico (Va.) County Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Wade A. Kizer, who was appointed special prosecutor in the case, said Myers should have reported part of the survey's value as an in-kind contribution. He said he did not pursue criminal charges because he could not prove that the omission was intentional.
As part of the agreement to drop the investigation, Myers filed an amended report with the county Board of Elections, listing the survey as a $500 in-kind contribution.
Myers called the investigation a "blatant political effort" to force her from the race. It was sparked by a complaint from the campaign manager for Supervisor Scott K. York (R-Sterling), who successfully challenged her for the GOP nomination. Myers is running as an independent.
"I did nothing wrong," Myers said in a statement. "There was no willful violation of any campaign regulation."
Myers said Loudoun County Commonwealth's Attorney Robert D. Anderson (R) rushed to launch an investigation against her but has not acted on a similar charge made against York last week.
"I do not understand how the Commonwealth Attorney's Office can fail to review one Board of Supervisors member, while in my case he calls for a special prosecutor within twenty-four hours," she said.
Anderson denied Myers's claim, saying he has asked the Board of Elections to send him copies of documents that pertain to the complaint against York.
York's Closed Doors Legal, Attorney Says
Loudoun Supervisor Scott K. York (R-Sterling) did not violate the law by holding a closed-door session of the Virginia Coalition of High Growth Communities, according to a written opinion by Loudoun County Attorney John R. Roberts.
Roberts issued the opinion in response to a request from Board of Supervisors Chairman Dale Polen Myers (R-At Large), who questioned whether York violated Virginia's Freedom of Information Act by excluding the public from part of a two-day coalition meeting in August.
Myers was one of several people who were asked to leave the coalition's Aug. 27 meeting in Richmond after York, the group's chairman, closed the session to nonvoting members. The coalition is made up of representatives from 23 local governments seeking to strengthen their authority to control growth. Each jurisdiction has one voting member.
York said that the coalition is not an "official government body," and that it was appropriate to close the session while members were discussing strategies to lobby the General Assembly. "I felt all along that what we did was legal," York said.
In a three-page opinion, Roberts agreed, saying the coalition is not a public body subject to FOIA rules because no public funds have been approved specifically to fund the coalition, although it does receive some help from county departments.
"If the coalition becomes formally organized and accepts public funds, and if those public funds become its principal support, the group as a whole will become subject to the FOIA," Roberts wrote. He said FOIA rules would apply if three or more supervisors were members.
Myers said she would ask the board to request an opinion from the Attorney General's Office.
Religious Message Sent to Secular School
Del. Richard H. Black (R-Loudoun) sent a congratulatory letter to honor roll students at Loudoun Country Day School, a secular private school in Leesburg, in which he referred to the "teachings of Christ" as a "crucial element" of their education.
Black's daughter and campaign volunteer, Michelle Cope, said that the letters were a mix-up and that Black has spoken to the school's headmaster and parents whose children received the letters. Cope said she mistakenly thought Loudoun Country Day was a Christian school when she prepared 30 to 40 letters for students there.
Kelly Burk, president of the Loudoun Education Association and Black's challenger in the November election for his seat in the Virginia House, called the letter "insensitive." Her campaign manager, Shawn Matteson, said it was an inappropriate use of his taxpayer-funded letterhead to "spout off his own personal religious views."
Cope said Black's campaign sent letters over the summer to about 4,000 honor roll students in both public and private schools. She said only letters to students attending Christian schools were intended to contain the reference to Christ.
A Little Help From His Friends in High Places
He may be a newcomer to politics, but School Board candidate Patrick F. Chorpenning Jr. seems to have friends in the national political scene.
Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) and Rep. Bob Clement (R-Tennessee) were guest speakers Monday at a $100-a-person fund-raiser for Chorpenning in his bid for the Mercer District seat. Chorpenning, a 29-year-old high school social studies teacher, said the event held at his South Riding home raised an estimated $2,500 for his race against another newcomer, Dean Coursen, of Aldie. Edward J. Kiley, who represents the district on the School Board, has decided not to run again.
How did Chorpenning meet the national pols? He taught their daughters last year at West Potomac High School in Alexandria.
Sen. Bob Kerrey (D-Nebraska) also planned to attend but had a meeting that detained him. Kerrey and Chorpenning's father were treated at the same naval hospital in Philadelphia after both men were wounded in the Vietnam War.