Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Virginia voter's group petitions to remove anti-gay Eugene Delgaudio from office

Eugene Delgaudio
By Brody Levesque | LEESBURG -- A group of registered voters have petitioned a state circuit court to strip anti-gay Loudon County Virginia Supervisor Eugene Delgaudio,(R) of his public office. The petition to remove him, supplemented by a 26 page legal filing, was filed Monday afternoon with the Loudoun County Circuit Court, and contained signatures from 686 verified voters from the political district in Sterling that he represents on the county's board of supervisors. Only 558 were required- representing 10 percent of the voters who participated in the last election - to initiate the removal process.
The court, which is required by statute to issue a 'rule to show cause' that requires Delgaudio to explain why he should not be removed from office, issued its ruling Tuesday afternoon and set February 5 as the date he'll need to answer or forfeit his office.
Upon receipt of his response, the court will decide then whether to set the matter for trial or dismiss the case.
Al Nevarez, a group organizer and spokesman for Sterling Deserves Better told LGBTQ Nation Tuesday that Delgaudio's leadership of the anti-gay hate group Public Advocate of the United States- whose advocacy work landed him on the Southern Poverty Law Center's Hate Group watch list- was an integral component to the campaign to remove him.
Delgaudio's actions as head of Public Advocate, including "what could be best termed as anti-gay bullying," coupled with public pronouncements from Delgaudio that criticized Muslims and immigrants , Nevarez said, as well as the problems which have plagued the supervisorial district in his lack of direct constituent services was the primary focus on how he (Delgaudio) has rankled voters in the Sterling, Virginia district he represents.
Leesburg attorney John Flannery, who filed the motion Monday on behalf of the petitioners, said in a prepared statement Tuesday that the petition was an “extraordinary remedy” that Sterling’s citizens have invoked after the county board “did as much as they believed they could lawfully do to contain Supervisor Delgaudio.”
The petition refers to the Virginia statute that allows for the removal of an elected officer from office for reasons including “neglect of duty, misuse of office, or incompetence in the performance of duties” if that behavior has “a material adverse effect upon the conduct of the office."
[Section 24.2-233(1) of the Virginia Code provides that “any elected officer” may be removed “for [a] neglect of duty, [b ] misuse of office, or [c] incompetence in the performance of duties when that neglect of duty, misuse of office, or incompetence in the performance of duties has a material adverse effect upon the conduct of the office."]
Delgaudio’s attorney, Charles King, said Tuesday that he had not yet seen the petition and filing, and declined comment.
Delgaudio, who was the subject of a criminal investigation last year, has been a controversial figure in both state and national politics for his anti-gay political advocacy.
Last February a special prosecutor was appointed to look into allegations of official misconduct by Delgaudio touched off by a November story in the Washington Post after one of his former aides told the paper that the veteran supervisor had used county resources and staff to benefit his political campaign.
A special grand jury impaneled by the prosecutor reviewed the evidence and although it declined to indict Delgaudio, the special grand jury did take the "extraordinary step" of issuing a report of its findings, which one of Delgaudio's fellow supervisors, Ralph Buona (R-Ashburn), told LGBTQ Nation was the impetus for the Republican dominated board to vote to censure Delgaudio, and strip him of any committee powers and take his district budget out of his control last July.
The grand jury report highlighted testimony from staff and others of a harsh working environment in Delgaudio's office, a lack of constituent services and "a likely, but not blatant, misuse of county resources."
Nevarez told LGBTQ Nation that the during the door to door campaign which used official voter's records and as signatures were gathered,  petition gathering volunteers kept hearing from residents that " We're tired of this [referring to the controversy] can't we move on, he's an embarrassment."
A large majority of respondents according to Nevarez were also angered that "the real problems in Sterling aren't being addressed, including nuts and bolts responsibilities such as potholes, or civic improvements on already passed bond measures."
Nevarez said that If Delgaudio is removed, there is no precedent, no one knows where this goes now, it could end up with a replacement supervisor as an appointment by the Board of Supervisors or a call for special election.