Loudoun County board to address special grand jury’s report in Delgaudio investigation
By Caitlin Gibson,
The Loudoun County Board of Supervisors is expected to take action this week in response to a detailed special grand jury report that concluded a months-long investigation of Supervisor Eugene A. Delgaudio (R-Sterling).
The report, released June 24, was first addressed by the board at a July 3 meeting — where numerous Sterling residents and prominent local Democrats assailed Delgaudio’s record in office and the supervisor defended himself against their accusations.
The special grand jury, which was impaneled in February to investigate allegations that Delgaudio used his public office to benefit his political campaign, did not return an indictment. But it took the unusual step of issuing a comprehensive report last month that identified numerous possible problems in Delgaudio’s county office — including the potential misuse of county resources, the possibility of unreported campaign donations, a perceived disregard for constituent services, a hostile work environment, and the blurring of lines between his county office and his conservative nonprofit organization, Public Advocate of the United States, which campaigns against gay rights.
The investigation grew from accusations made by Donna Mateer, one of Delgaudio’s former part-time county aides, who told The Washington Post last year that the supervisor instructed her to spend much of her work time early last year scheduling fundraising meetings rather than interacting with constituents.
Arlington County Commonwealth’s Attorney Theo Stamos (D), who was appointed in November to oversee the investigation, said June 24 that she did not ask the jurors to consider indictments. In the report, the jurors said they thought that they were not instructed to consider indictments in part because of legal limitations.
Toward the end of the July 3 meeting — after heated public input about the jury’s report — the board addressed what Vice Chairman Shawn Williams (R-Broad Run) referred to as “the elephant in the room.”
Supervisor Janet S. Clarke (R-Blue Ridge) asked the public to understand that the board needed time to properly “assimilate the results” of the report and determine the best course of action.
“The allegations against Supervisor Delgaudio are extremely serious,” she said. “This board takes the entire situation very seriously. . . . I would appeal to the public to please be patient.”
Clarke, along with Supervisor Ralph Buona (R-Ashburn), also emphasized that the board had already taken steps to revise the county’s board aide policy as a result of Mateer’s allegations.
Two of the grand jury’s six recommendations dealt with ethical concerns regarding county aides. After Mateer’s allegations last year, the board revised the applicable rules. The new policy, approved by the board in December, “deals with probably 80 percent of those [grand jury] recommendations,” Buona said. “The public is just not aware of it.”
Three of the other recommendations would fall to the General Assembly for action, Buona said, adding that the board would probably push for the jury’s concerns about state campaign law to be examined by state officials.
The jury’s report noted that Virginia law states that the use of public assets for personal or political gain is illegal only for “full-time” employees — but because county supervisors are not required to work a certain number of hours, it is difficult to claim that they are full time, the report said.
Supervisor Matt F. Letourneau (R-Dulles) said he was “personally very surprised to learn, apparently, that most ethics laws don’t apply” to him because of that fact. “Clearly a hole has been found that the General Assembly needs to address,” he said.
Williams said there were also steps that the county board would take in response to the report. Along with some of his colleagues, he expressed frustration that the investigation has overshadowed the board’s other work.
“Ultimately what’s important to me . . . is the reputation of this board,” he said. “I would take it very personally, as I’m sure my colleagues will, if that reputation is tarnished. I know we went through an exhaustive process, and we’re getting our hands around this additional report that came to us, and I will tell you that additional action is going to be taken.”
Those assurances were aimed in part at the Sterling residents and Democrats who condemned Delgaudio’s actions before the board during a public input session at the start of the meeting.
Stevens Miller, a Democrat who formerly served on the Board of Supervisors and is the attorney for Mateer, said he resented Delgaudio’s claim that Mateer’s allegations were politically motivated.
“For Mr. Delgaudio to suggest . . . that her story is somehow due to his claim of support for a conservative agenda is completely absurd,” Miller said, noting that Mateer is also against abortion and gay marriage.
“It is the breach of the public’s trust that she can’t tolerate,” Miller said.
Al Nevarez, who ran against Delgaudio in 2011 and is leading a petition drive to request that a Loudoun judge remove Delgaudio from office, had the most scathing comments for the supervisor.
“What you do is wrong. You disserve our government, you disserve our country. Take that flag off,” Nevarez said, referring to an American flag pin that Delgaudio wears regularly. “You don’t deserve to wear it. You’re a criminal.”
Nevarez’s words drew an immediate response from Delgaudio, who asked that Board Chairman Scott K. York (R-At Large) intervene. York refused, telling Delgaudio that he would have an opportunity to respond later.
Nevarez continued: “This is not about partisan politics. I know that’s hard to believe, but it’s really not. I don’t like corrupt officials. I don’t care if they’re Democrats or Republicans.”
After a handful of speakers had taken their turns at the podium, Delgaudio defended himself without directly addressing the issues raised by the report.
Instead, he said that constituent services were his top priority, claiming that he visits “a minimum of 300 to 500 houses every day” in Sterling.
People can vote for whom they want as a supervisor, Delgaudio said.
“They don’t want me, some of them, that’s clear tonight,” he said. “But I will not be silent when someone challenges my patriotism, and I will not be silent when someone makes false accusations against me.”
York said the grand jury report would be addressed during the Board of Supervisors meeting Wednesday. He did not respond to a question about what actions the board would consider against Delgaudio.