Supervisor Eugene Delgaudio (R-Sterling) Monday night won support from the Loudoun County Republican Committee in his effort to overturn the Board of Supervisors’ July 17 censure vote that resulted in the defunding of his office staff.
With just over 100 members voting, the committee by a 2 to 1 margin supported a resolution calling on the all-Republican Board of Supervisors to restore funding for his staff aide and to form a special committee to investigate allegations of misconduct that had been probed by a special grand jury earlier this year. The grand jury investigation resulted in no criminal charges, but the panel issued a special report raising questions about Delgaudio’s conduct. 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.
Delgaudio and his attorney Charles King have argued in Circuit Court and in the county boardroom that the board should form a special committee to investigate the allegations and permit supervisors to call witnesses to testify and for Delgaudio’s attorney to cross-examine them in a public forum. Until Monday’s LCRC meeting that argument has failed to gain traction. Two Circuit Court judges have ruled that the board holds the authority to discipline its members and a majority of supervisors have said the grand jury report provided ample evidence to justify the sanctions, with no need for a special committee to duplicate that work.
The Board of Supervisors next Wednesday will meet for the first time since the censure vote. A supervisor on the prevailing side of the 8-1 vote could open the issue for reconsideration. While Delgaudio has appealed to his colleagues to restore his staff, he has also stepped up public criticism of the board and turned the controversy into a fundraising drive—a strategy unlikely to win favor from supervisors already frustrated by the amount of time being devoted to the controversy.
That concern also was cited by members of the LCRC who opposed the resolution Monday night. Two key party activists urged the committee to stay out of the fray, at least until after the November elections. Greg Stone, who is leading the volunteer efforts for Ken Cuccinelli’s gubernatorial campaign in Loudoun, and longtime GOP leader Mary Gail Swenson warned that the squabble between Delgaudio and the board majority threatened to be a dangerous distraction from the important state campaigns. Stone urged committee members to stay focused on the campaigns, pointing out that results in Loudoun and Prince William counties likely would dictate the outcome of the election, only 70 days away. He said committee members concerned about the situation should express their support directly to the board as individuals, pointing out that he was the only committee member to speak in Delgaudio’s defense prior to the board’s censure vote.
Swenson said the dispute threatened to become a “complete distraction.” Her motion to postpone a vote on the resolution until after the election formed the core of the debate and was the subject of the first of two full roll-call votes.
The motion failed and was followed by a second roll call vote adopting the resolution, 68-34.
Several supervisors were present at the meeting. Although they made no comments on the issue during the hour-long debate, their votes indicated a preference for the LCRC to drop the issue. In attendance were Vice Chairman Shawn Williams (R-Broad Run) and supervisors Ralph Buona (R-Ashburn), Suzanne Volpe (R-Algonkian), Ken Reid (R-Leesburg) and Geary Higgins (R-Catoctin). Even Higgins, who argued in support of Delgaudio's request for a special committee during the July board meeting, voted against the LCRC resolution.
An electronic newsletter Delgaudio sent to his constituents just hours before Monday’s meeting took a combative tone with his fellow supervisors.
As he had orchestrated supporters to turn out for Monday’s LCRC meeting, Delgaudio also urged them to attend the board’s Sept. 4 meeting to support his effort to overturn the censure sanctions. “Can you help keep the Board in the right direction? If you believe as I do that the Liberal Leesburg Establishment ignores Sterling needs, let them know,” Delgaudio wrote. “Liberals have attacked me for 14 years. They used every weapon in their arsenal to silence me. The liberals rhetorically hack at me with blunt axes to destroy me and our conservative values. They target me as I am the strongest conservative. I am your firewall, your foundation, your advocate for our values for 14 years.”
The newsletter also solicits campaign donations in advance of a “Restore Sterling Victory Party” fundraiser planned Sept. 20. Delgaudio’s latest campaign disclosure reports $49,804 cash on hand, about half of the $100,000 he typically spends in his re-election campaigns. Although next board elections are not until 2015, Delgaudio is the only sitting supervisor who already has a challenger in the race.
As evidence that Delgaudio’s calls to restore funding for his staff aides are falling on deaf ears among other supervisors, Reid Monday distributed copies of minutes from board budget deliberations in 2010 and 2011 in which the Sterling District supervisor advocated cutting funding for all board aides, including them on his list of items he said represented unnecessary or wasteful spending.