Following three hours of debate Wednesday night, the Loudoun Board of Supervisors formally voted to censure Supervisor Eugene Delgaudio, stripping him of committee assignments for the rest of his term, eliminating his staff aide positions and restricting funding for his office operations.
The actions came in response to a report issued by a special grand jury that spent five months investigating allegations of misconduct initially raised by a former staff aide. Among the allegations cited by supervisors in punishing the four-term supervisor were that he was abusive to staff members and used staff time and other county resources in campaign and fundraising activities.
Much of the session was spent debating whether the board should appoint a special committee to conduct its own investigation of the allegations. Earlier in the day, Delgaudio and his attorney Charles L. King failed in their attempt to win from Circuit Court Judge Thomas D. Horne an injunction that would have blocked an immediate censure vote. They advocated the establishment of an ad-hoc board panel they said would ensure due process by hearing from witnesses and providing Delgaudio a forum to dispute the allegations. A similar process was used by the board in a 1996 board ethics probe.
Delgaudio was supported in that request by Supervisor Geary Higgins (R-Catoctin) and Janet Clarke (R-Blue Ridge), but other supervisors questioned the merits of such an exercise, saying the work of the grand jury was far more comprehensive than a board committee could accomplish.
The vote to formally censure Delgaudio and to make permanent the loss of committee assignments the board initiated in January was unanimous, except for Delgaudio. However, Higgins and Clarke joined Delgaudio in voting against the measure to largely defund the Sterling District office operations. Under the action, money allocated for the office would be managed by the full board. Delgaudio’s one full-time aide was to be placed on eight weeks paid administrative leave starting July 18 and all other part-time positions terminated immediately.
Delgaudio spent much of the meeting asking for a forum to refute the allegations, but when requested by County Chairman Scott K. York (R-At Large) to present his response to the grand jury report, the supervisor asked that his attorney be permitted to speak instead. That request was denied by a board majority.
The majority of supervisors said they found evidence of misconduct outlined in the grand jury report compelling, even though the special prosecutor in the case declined to request the panel consider criminal indictments.
The report raised concerns that Delgaudio verbally abused staff members and violated the Board of Supervisors’ Code of Conduct; that Delgaudio directed his aides to set up meetings with individuals for the purpose of soliciting campaign contributions; that Delgaudio may have received campaign contributions that were not disclosed; that Delgaudio instructed aides to focus on fundraising activities rather than respond to constituent calls or concerns; and that Delgaudio used his county aides to support the work of Public Advocate of the United States, a 501(c)(4) organization of which he is founder and president.
Supervisor Ralph Buona (R-Ashburn), like all the other board members was subpoenaed to appear before the grand jury, and he said the purpose of the panel’s report was clear to him. “Why did they do it? They did it because they felt something was wrong,” he said.
“The integrity of the board is at stake. The integrity of my Republican party is at stake,” Buona said.
Supervisor Ken Reid (R-Leesburg) was among those expressing frustration with Delgaudio’s refusal to acknowledge wrongdoing. “You have shown no contrition. Instead you take us to court,” he said.
At one point Delgaudio suggested the grand jury unfairly tarnished him by issuing a report, and that its members were “frustrated that they were not able to prosecute me.”
“The criticisms that you are making at me can’t possibly be true,” Delgaudio said in continuing to press for the creation of an ad hoc committee.
“This is enough. It’s enough for this board. We have better things to do,” an exasperated Vice Chairman Shawn Williams (R-Board Run) responded.
Supervisor Matt Letourneau said Wednesday’s session afforded Delgaudio ample opportunity to address the allegations. “He has spent a lot of time tonight telling us he has not had a chance to respond, but he has not responded.”
Supervisors said they would consider other recommendations by the grand jury, including requests that the General Assembly make clear that part-time supervisors be subject to corruption laws and to tighten campaign finance reporting rules, following its August recess.