The Loudoun Board of Supervisors approved new policies for their staff aides Wednesday, putting in place “razor sharp” prohibitions against aides conducting political campaign work or fundraising using county resources.
The new measure passed 8-0, with Chairman Scott York (R-At Large) absent. York is on an economic development trip in Europe.
“The old policy did not draw clear lines, the edge was about as sharp as a steel girder,” said Supervisor Ralph Buona (R-Ashburn), who chairs the board’s finance committee, which undertook reviewing the policies and drafting the new measure.
“What I’m trying to do is make it as sharp as a razor blade … We’re just trying to tighten up a policy that should’ve been tightened up many years ago by prior boards,” Buona said.
The new policy dictates that board aides may not, under any circumstance, use county resources – equipment, paid time, office space – to conduct political activities, including fundraising and campaigning.
Additionally, board aides are not to run any errands or do personal work for their individual supervisors outside their county-related responsibilities.
Staff aides are, however, allowed to work on political campaigns in their own time or when they are not being compensated by the county.
The new policy comes amidst the much-publicized controversy surrounding Supervisor Eugene Delgaudio (R-Sterling). Earlier this year, Delgaudio fired an aide after she approached county officials with allegations that Delgaudio directed her to set up political appointments while being paid by the county and using county resources.
Under the policy, aides with work-related complaints are to take their concerns to County Administrator Tim Hemstreet, who will take the issue to either the board’s chair or vice chair. Or, if the chair or vice chair are included within the complaint, the matter will be taken to the finance committee chair.
Supervisors’ aides are not eligible for equal protections as other county employees under the county grievance policy, because the aides positions are political by nature. According to Loudoun County staff, in accordance with the Civil Rights Act, “the term ‘employee’ means an individual employed by an employer, except that the term ‘employee’ shall not include any person elected to public office in any State or political subdivision of any State by the qualified voters thereof, or any person chosen by such officer to be on such officer’s personal staff …”
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