The Loudoun Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to have an outside investigator examine whether Supervisor Eugene Delgaudio (R-Sterling) violated county policy in his use of office assistants, but the results are unlikely to warrant calls for Delgaudio’s removal.
The vote came a week after the Washington Post reported that the work of at least one aide for the supervisor appeared to cross into campaign and private activities.
Supervisors were adamant that they referred a complaint made several months ago to authorities and no legal violations were found, as County Chairman Scott K. York stated in a news release from the county Tuesday. And in terms of violating board policy, York said there’s little the board can do, if in fact Delgaudio violated board policy.
First and foremost, York and other supervisors affirmed a basic of American justice: People are innocent until proven guilty. But York also said public perception plays a big role when wrongdoing is suspect, so he thought an investigation was in order.
“Unfortunately perception can become reality, rather than reality becoming reality. At the end of the day, I am not calling for somebody’s head to come off. I’m not calling for someone to resign,” York said. “If the investigation comes back and shows there has been a very clear violation of the policy my attitude will be very different.”
Delgaudio continued the response he’s given all week — that the accusations were the work of the liberal media out to make him look bad.
“Thank you for not agreeing to lynch me,” he told his colleagues, saying he welcomed the opportunity to clear his name. “Thanking you for not wanting to join the mob outside in calling for my head.”
While the story outlined meetings set up by the aide with people who said they were solicited for campaign money, Delgaudio has insisted that the meetings and calls were all to raise money a local youth sports league.
“The liberals blow themselves up as they approach me with fantastic lies about what I do. The liberals destroy themselves with misrepresentation, mistruths, libel, slander, exaggeration and outright falsehoods, and victimize many innocent victims,” he said. “They oppose me and all Christians for taking a stand in support of the Boy Scouts, traditional marriage and yes, even eating chicken at the restaurant of your choice. There’s nothing new in this latest slander against me.”
And while supervisors who weighed in said they were not jumping to conclusions, like York, they also indicated a readiness to act if violations are found.
“It’s so easy to rush to judgment based on a newspaper article that highlights some very negative aspects of someone’s behavior, of which I certainly do not condone,” Supervisor Janet Clarke (R-Blue Ridge) said.
Supervisor Matt Letourneau offered similar sentiments.
“It’s not possible for the board of supervisors to take action based solely on a report in a newspaper,” he said. “We need to find out for ourselves whether something’s actually happened or not.”
Supervisor Ken Reid (R-Leesburg) said the review of policies regarding supervisors’ aides may lead to improvements, even in the investigation of Delgaudio leads nowhere.
“I think though that aides should not be allowed to be doing fundraising for charities,” he said. “I think that that really is suspect.”
York warned members of the public seeking a major penalty that there’s little the board can do.
“We need as a board to get to whether or not in fact Mr. Delgaudio did violate county policy with respect to the aides. It is my intention if we get a report back and it is found that our colleague has violated policy, then we will have to take care of that,” he said. “But I want the public to understand this board has very little that it can actually do to a colleague.”
Among the punishments are removal from committee assignments or withholding of operating funds for that supervisors’ office.
“It’s not a violation of the law. It’s a violation of county policy. But that’s why we have elections,” York said. “So I’m not taking this at all lightly, but the public’s got to understand … I cannot fire Mr. Delgaudio. I cannot. I do not have that authority.”
York also said he welcomed the review of the policies for aides, who are not covered by the same grievance policy as the rest of the county administrative staff, because past aides have complained about the work environment.
“There have been in my mind abuses that have occurred by others, let me correct that 'other,' in a previous board, so I am happy to go forward and through this process and tighten some of these policies,” he said, appearing to refer to former .
“I am very concerned about the charges have been made by the aides in the past,” York said. “Our aides are our aides, but they are not punching bags. We had a former supervisor of a different party who couldn’t keep an aide for very long, and part of the problem was that individual’s conduct towards their aides.”
The board voted unanimously to move forward with the investigation, which is expected to cost $5,000 to $25,000. Supervisors approved up to $15,000. County Attorney John R. Roberts would have to request additional funds if costs go beyond that amount.
The board also voted unanimously to refer the policy on aides to the Finance/Government Services Committee. Delgaudio is a member of that committee.