Last year, after the release of the special grand jury report on complaints against Sterling District Supervisor Eugene Delgaudio, more than a few local Republicans were heard to wonder: What happened with Eugene?
Known as a savvy politician whose advocacy organization Public Advocate – his regular job – did almost no member solicitation in Northern Virginia in order to avoid even the appearance of fundraising conflicts of interest with his role as a Loudoun County elected official, Delgaudio seemed unlikely to suddenly become as sloppy as alleged by former employee Donna Mateer.
On top of that, Delgaudio’s reputation as a boss was as one who gave young people opportunities for professional development in a less-than-rigid work environment. Like most of the county supervisors, Delgaudio has a full time job apart from his elected position and thus was not physically present during much of the staff’s work day. Publicly, he praised them – management 101.
Even during the past two-plus years when relationships with at least three of his former staff have been, as revealed in the public reports, nigh toxic, Delgaudio has shared nothing, according to a number of local friends and colleagues.
Because the critical evidence in Mateer’s public statement and the grand jury report is of the she-said, she-said variety, and Delgaudio has been mum, those of us on the outside can only offer theories.
Here is the first of mine – which only scratches the surface of the problem, but is important to bear in mind for the further analysis to be continued in a subsequent post.
Throughout the public discussion, the fixation by Delgaudio’s opponents on his work with Public Advocate has resulted in a towering noise-to-signal ratio. The salient problem raised by Mateer’s accusations and the question on which Delgaudio’s fate will be decided, as explained at local blog Real Loudoun, is whether Delgaudio misused public assets and a public office.
The grand jury’s only references to Public Advocate regarded questions about Delgaudio directing his county staff to report to a staff member of Public Advocate, and whether meetings held at Public Advocate offices raised the possibility of county resources being used for Public Advocate activities. The grand jury found no sufficient evidence of misappropriating resources to support criminal charges (and an objective observer might ask to what extent Public Advocate’s resources were thus expended toward conducting county business).
Yet nearly all reports and commentaries on Mateer’s allegations are rife with concocted mentions of Public Advocate’s activities, irrelevant to the issue at hand.
A Washington Post report informs us that Mateer met Delgaudio “at a Chick-fil-A – a restaurant chain Delgaudio has championed because its president opposes same-sex marriage.” The Post also makes known that FBI agents had questioned Mateer about Degaudio’s “involvement with Public Advocate,” when Delgaudio has served, very publicly, as the organization’s leader – for decades. Another story on the grand jury report refers to Public Advocate with the throwaway allegation that it “campaigns against gay rights.”
On most issues, Public Advocate promotes positions that would be seen as non-controversial by the majority of socially conservative Americans, including “Equality under the law, regardless of one’s sexual orientation.” But with its periodic unapologetic stances against some policies advocated by gay advocacy organizations, and Delgaudio’s well-known theatrical communication style, Public Advocate is currently as politically incorrect as they come.
Delgaudio’s role as head of the organization is a side issue his detractors have used as ominous window dressing, but which has served only to cloud the debate.