Depending on your point of view, watching the antics and tribulations of Loudoun’s Supervisor Eugene Delgaudio (R-Sterling) has the makings of grand drama or an old fashioned farce.
As reported last week, the most recent news regarding Delgaudio includes a lawsuit from a gay couple whose wedding photo was coopted for an anti-gay mailer and accusations that he had county staffer spending time on campaign mailers.
1. Regarding the ill-used photo, does everyone understand that the concept of intellectual property (and property in general) applies on the Internet? You can’t just take things off the web and reuse them in any sort of commercial way. The idea of a “free Internet” has to do with taxes on the web, not losing your private property rights. Ask Napster 1.0 how that went.
2. The couple whose photo was allegedly misused deserves a public apology. Whatever your feelings on gay marriage, having your private photo altered to show you with hellfire in the background and distributed as an example of sin is simply not something any of us should be comfortable with. At no point did this couple insert themselves into the public dialogue and – again, no matter what your feelings on gay marriage are – they deserve their privacy.
3. In our view, Public Advocate has a lifespan and the time is coming to an end. It’s not a coincidence that anti-gay fundraising began in earnest during glasnost with the old Soviet Union … the prior target of extreme Christian fundraising. When one enemy began to retire, those who earn their livelihood from this sort of funding started looking for a new target. And like anti-Russian fundraising, it would appear that consensus is slowly shifting toward equal rights for gays and lesbians, although the push for marriage versus civil unions appears to be a slower transition. It will be interesting to see what the boogeymen of 2015 will be.
4. The charges of using a county-funded aide for campaign work are apparently less serious that it seems. We’re hearing phrases like “outside policy” and “blurring lines.” For Delgaudio supporters, even if it is discovered to be true, be comforted that the worst that can happen for this is not so bad. However, why isn’t campaign/governance a larger problem? How is this only a board policy and not something inscribed in local ordinance? At the least, why aren’t there significant penalties?
5. The alleged comingling of hours between campaign work and county work appears to be working off an honor system using supervisor choices for aides. With this alleged incident in mind, is it time to have the supervisor aides truly be county employees hired by the county administrator and then assigned to different supervisors?
6. Even his harshest critics will admit that Delgaudio is a strong fundraiser. A review of his campaign finance reports will demonstrate he has a stronger war chest than most. Whether or not the line between county business and campaigning is true, future review of this financing will always have to reference the current controversy – that he might be working with funds raised under an ethical cloud.
7. It’s something we see on both the local and national stage: extreme members of one party or another taking actions or making statements outside the mainstream. In other areas, they call on other members of that person’s party to either distance themselves from those statements or support them. Perhaps because of Delgaudio’s long tenure, this same responsibility has not been laid at the feet of our local political parties. Perhaps it’s time to rethink this mindset and begin to call our other officials into question regarding their feelings over statements by an extreme member of their own party. But what’s good for the goose is good for the gander. It has to be used for both local parties.
8. At his best, Delgaudio has been an efficient (if colorful) public feature. His strong talent at constituent service and his ability to shrug off criticism have in general been a good thing. But eventually, voters will need to determine if this is enough to balance out the showmanship antics and gay-baiting which appear to be taking up an increasing amount of his time.
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