UPDATED: Supervisors advance proposed ‘misuse of public assets’ ordinance
The Board of Supervisors on Wednesday unanimously approved sending the proposed ordinance criminalizing the misuse of public assets (detailed below) to a public hearing in September. At that meeting, held on the second Wednesday of the month, supervisors will likely suspend the rules and enact the new local law.
Original Story, July 16:
Loudoun's supervisors are expected tonight to take the next step toward making it a crime for members of the Board of Supervisors or other county bodies to misuse public assets, something they pledged to do in the aftermath of last year's final report from a special grand jury investigating Loudoun Supervisor Eugene Delgaudio (R-Sterling).
Delgaudio was not indicted on allegations he abused public resources, but a final summary from the grand jury stated the commonwealth's code “criminalizes such action only for 'full-time' employees … Because Loudoun County pays a nominal salary to members of the Board of Supervisors there is a general expectation that Board of Supervisors have another source of income … "
Delgaudio's colleagues and many political observers at the time were unaware the law criminalized misusing public assets only for “full-time employees.” Several supervisors vowed to work with local state lawmakers to draft an amendment to the state code so the misuse of public assets provision applies to all elected officials.
While state legislators did not agree to a proposal from state Del. Randy Minchew (R-10th) that would've applied the public assets prohibition to themselves – something that dismayed local supervisors – state lawmakers amended the code to allow jurisdictions to implement a local ordinance forbidding the abuse of public assets. Such an ordinance is what the board will take up July 16.
Under the proposal included in the Board of Supervisors business meeting packet, “any non-full-time officer, agent, employee or elected official, without lawful authorization, who misuses, or permits the misuse of, public assets for private or public purposes unrelated to the duties and office of that person, or any other legitimate governmental interest, when the value exceeds $1,000 in any 12-month period, shall be guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor and shall be fined not more than $2,500 or imprisoned not more than 12 months.
“'Public assets' is defined within the proposed ordinance as personal property belonging to or paid for by the county, or the labor of any person other than the accused that is paid for by the county.”
If supervisors approve a draft motion Wednesday, the proposed ordinance will be sent to a public hearing in September (the board is on recess in August), and could be finalized either at the public hearing or an ensuing business meeting.