Kirby Delauter vaulted to viral superstardom in January when he briefly threatened to sue his local newspaper if it used his name. The Frederick County Council member has now talked himself into another flap, albeit lower-profile, this time for crude comments about a council colleague and County Executive Jan Gardner (D).
Last week Delauter, a Republican. called into a radio show to denounce Gardner and Council President Bud Otis (R) for sponsoring a bill — to be introduced on Tuesday — that would bar his family-owned general contracting company from bidding on county jobs.
It seems that in addition to forgetting sometimes about a newspaper’s First Amendment right to publish the names of public officials, Delauter can be sketchy on what civic teachers call the appearance of conflict of interest, or the importance of ethics and squeaky clean government.
Delauter told radio listeners that Otis was “too much of a coward” to sit down and discuss the matter with him. “He just goes over, sticks his head up the county executive’s skirt and says ‘You know what, this is what we’re gonna do and get over it.”
Gardner and Otis, who have demanded that Delauter apologize, did not return calls for comment Thursday. The Frederick News-Post, which ridiculed DeLauter when he aspired to be He Who Must Not Be Named (“Kirby Delauter, Kirby Delauter Kirby Delauter” was the headline on its editorial), said if that if the council member were speaking as an employee in a private corporation, his words “would have meant a short trip to HR and, possibly the unemployment line.”
Delauter, who has not told Gardner or Otis that he is sorry, conceded in an interview that his language could have been more felicitous.
“It wasn’t the best choice of words,” he said. “I was trying to get the point across that [Otis] is in lockstep” with Gardner. “I could have used a better choice of words.”
The proposed legislation bars any company from bidding on county projects if a council member, county executive or relative has a financial interest in the firm. This would effectively quash an opinion by the county’s ethics commission that found that Delauter’s firm, W.F. Delauter & Son, could bid and still stay within the rules.
“I haven’t bid county work in four years, but I think I should have that option like everyone else,” Delauter said.
Most jurisdictions have similar prohibitions to what Frederick will vote on next week.