Still blaming others

Loudoun Board of Supervisors Chairman Scott York (R), digging himself in ever deeper over his cover-up of the growing Delgaudio scandal, last week found himself confronted with a lot of very unhappy citizens at the “town meeting” he called in lieu of a Board meeting to actually do something about the matter.

The biggest applause of the night, according to a report in the Washington Post, came when one speaker asked why York kept insisting there was nothing that could be done about Delgaudio’s ethical violations while the matter was “under investigation” (as it has been for the last eight months, most of it in secret) and why York also kept suggesting that if there was no violation of the law there was nothing else the Board could do. (York hastily canceled last week’s planned Board meeting at which possible sanctions or censure of Delgaudio might have been brought up.) The speaker went to the heart of the matter:

“Why is there not a higher standard? Why have you not signed an ethics pledge? Why are we standing here talking about compliance with the law?” the man asked. “Do you think that technical compliance with the law is a sufficient standard by which you want to be judged in your life and in your actions?”

York, backed into a corner by many similar tough questions from the assembled citizens, kept acknowledging that he had made “a mistake” in not turning over documentary evidence he had had in his possession since March of Delgaudio’s misuse of office — evidence supplied to York at his request from Delgaudio’s former aide Donna Mateer — but tried to blame it all on the Arlington County prosecutor (a Democrat) to whom Loudoun prosecutor Jim Plowman (a Republican) had “referred” the matter last spring. York’s mealy-mouthed explanation is one for the books:

“My simple mind simply thought that somebody making probably … over a hundred-thousand-dollar salary would have gotten the complaint and picked up the phone and called Donna, and talked to Ms. Mateer as to the aspects of her complaint,” York said. “But that simply, clearly didn’t happen.”

As has since come out, Plowman was not given the documents by York; he did not mention the existence of any documents to the Arlington Commonwealth’s Attorney; and in fact did not even ask her to conduct any investigation but merely to look at the written complaint submitted by Delgaudio’s former aide and ask her if she thought if based on the complaint Mateer had filed it would be worth pursuing the case. She replied that based solely on Mateer’s word, it would be hard to obtain a conviction. There was no investigation by that “hundred-thousand-dollar-plus” official in Arlington County because no investigation had been requested and because she had no authority to conduct any such investigation. (Last month, at last, the Arlington CA was appointed a special prosecutor by the Loudoun circuit court — only after all the facts about York’s holding and covering up the documents came out.)

Delgaudio meanwhile continued to provide not-very-comic relief by vehemently challenging a proposal to tighten the policy on the use of supervisors’ aides for political work. At a meeting of the Board’s finance committee, Delgaudio denounced the plan as “unconstitutional” and said it was just fine for him to have his staff aides work for his political campaigns. As Leesburg Today reported:

Delgaudio called the new policy “unconstitutional,” saying the county could not restrict anyone’s ability to earn an additional salary.

“How is it they can work for another candidate, but they cannot work for me as long as I am paying them,” Delgaudio asked. He said he did not believe it was the “undermining of your office just because your aide gets more money,” and said supervisors must “respect the sovereignty of each office.”

It would indeed be a shame to remove Delgaudio from his committee assignments — we would lose the chance to hear his fascinating theories as to why he can have his county paid staff spend most of their time calling potential campaign donors and offer them cash bonuses (out of his county supplied operating funds) for landing large contributions.

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