Hushing the adversaries of embattled Loudoun County Supervisor Eugene Delgaudio, Judge Paul Sheridan today dismissed the recall petition against the four-term Sterling supervisor, potentially ending nearly two year's worth of outcry claiming Delgaudio abused public employees and misused county resources.
In so doing, Sheridan accepted the recommendation from Arlington Commonwealth's Attorney Theophani Stamos, a Democrat who was prosecuting the case on behalf of the commonwealth. Stamos said there was not “clear and convincing evidence” to take the recall effort to trial.
The anti-Delgaudio petitioners, known in court filings as the Citizens of Sterling, alleged their supervisor used public employees and Loudoun tax dollars for political fundraising. Moreover, the Citizens of Sterling group claimed the supervisor's inflammatory rhetoric and fervent anti-gay views have caused dysfunction within Loudoun County government.
But Stamos, in her motion to dismiss, wrote “the Commonwealth cannot rely on conjecture, speculation, suspicions, and assumptions to support this extraordinary statutory procedure.” The prosecutor firmly refuted accusations by Delgaudio opponents who claimed she didn't expend energy to investigate the petitioners' charges.
Speaking on his client's victory, Charlie King, Delgaudio's attorney, said the “snipe hunt for Eugene Delgaudio is over.”
“Before the bloggers chime in, everybody should know this case ended because there was no evidence,” King said.
The Delgaudio team's victory came despite a heated plea from Leesburg attorney John Flannery, the chosen counsel of more than 650 of Delgaudio's constituents, who pressed to have the four-term Sterling supervisor displaced from office, or, at least, have the matter sent to trial.
After recently moving to have Stamos dismissed from the case, Flannery argued that taking the matter to trial could go a long way to assure the public “we're not protecting the political class.” The fight against Delgaudio is not about political parties, but rather “a distrust of public officials,” he added.
Flannery repeatedly claimed Stamos did not “believe in the underlying cause of the case” and “wasn't up for a fight.”
Stamos seldom responded directly to Flannery, maintaining that her duty was to “represent the commonwealth” and “uphold the rule of law.”
In her dismissal motion, Stamos noted, “Two years, hundreds of hours, and thousands of dollars have been expended investigating this matter. A much better use of petitioners' time – and that of the lawyers who represent them – might well be to identify and recruit a candidate from Sterling to run against Mr. Delgaudio in the next election.”
A hard-line social conservative, Delgaudio has been embroiled in conflict for nearly two years. Last year, he was the subject of a Stamos-led special grand jury investigation into similar allegations outlined in the petitioners' recall attempt, including using county resources to raise funds for his nonprofit organization, Public Advocate of the United States, a conservative organization that consistently speaks out against the LGBT community and has been labeled an "anti-gay hate group" by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
The claims were first highly publicized in a Washington Post story.
King mentioned the Post story at a press conference following the dismissal, saying Delgaudio's former legislative aide lied to the newspaper and to county Chairman Scott York (R-At Large).
While the special grand jury did not return an indictment, it took the atypical step of issuing a final report detailing its findings. That report was issued one year ago today, and it led Loudoun's all-Republican board to censure Delgaudio, strip him of any committee powers and take his district budget out of his control.
The grand jury highlighted testimony of a harsh working environment in Delgaudio's office, including verbal harassment from the supervisor, a lack of constituent services and a likely, though not blatant, misuse of public funds.
Delgaudio consistently denied any wrongdoing.
“All the allegations were wrong, untruthful and unfounded … The legal system has proved itself,” Delgaudio said outside the courthouse today. “And I believe the people of Sterling deserve a supervisor that represents them capably. They've had that for four terms.”
-Special Grand Jury Report
Past stories on Delgaudio:
-Democrats file recall petition to remove Eugene Delgaudio from office, Jan. 28
-Delgaudio dropping legal action against board colleagues, Aug. 30, 2013
-Delgaudio censured, punished by colleagues on all-Republican board, July 18, 2013