LCRC Chairman calls on Supervisor Randall to Cancel "Summit"

November 13, 2018

Campaign Event Disguised as Rural Policy Forum Violates Loudoun Board Ethics Code

Loudoun County Republican Committee Chairman Jim Bonfils called on Board Chair Phyllis Randall to cancel her "Rural Summit" currently set to take place November 16 at the Salamander Resort & Spa in Middleburg.

"Chair Randall is using county staff and resources to put on what amounts to a campaign event for her and her Democrat political allies," said Bonfils. "The protection of our rural areas and our emerging rural economy is one of the most important issues facing the Board. To use this critical issue as means of furthering her re-election campaign shows a serious and unethical lack of leadership."

Chair Randall has not been a leader on rural policy during her time. But now she needs votes in these traditionally Republican areas so she's staging a campaign event in rural Loudoun.

The facts are clear:

  • Ms. Randall excluded the two Supervisors who represent rural Loudoun from participating in the Summit, and only reconsidered after the same Supervisors read about the Summit in the newspaper and asked her office for more details. (Source).
  • Ms. Randall didn't even invite the Mayor of Middleburg (until he complained) even though the "Summit" is taking place in his town. Bridge Littleton is elected without partisan designation.
  • Ms. Randall is using the Summit to promote her chosen candidate to take out Tony Buffington in the Blue Ridge District in 2019. She named Tia Walbridge as "emcee" of the entire event. (Source).
  • Ms. Randall named Robert Bonnie as "federal" speaker at the Summit. Mr. Bonnie has contributed $28,887 to Democrat candidates since 1999. (Source).
  • Ms. Randall named a former campaign aide and staffer for Democrat Senator Mark Warner and appointee of Democrat Governor Ralph Northam as the "state" speaker. (Source).
  • "Chair Randall's actions also violate the Loudoun County Code of Ethics which she voted for back in 2016," said Bonfils. "Specifically, she has violated Sections 8, 10 and 11 of the Code."

    These Sections state as follows:

    • Avoid even the appearance of a conflict of interest. Disclose any personal or professional interest in any item coming before the Board which might be reasonably interpreted as a conflict and which might be perceived as rendering direct personal gain for oneself, one's family, or any organization in which a Board member has a financial interest.
    • Grant no special favors or privileges to any individual or entity based on any outside influence or personal relationships.
    • Use county resources, county staff or staff that is in any way financially compensated by the County of Loudoun only to conduct county business. Adhere to Board policy regarding district budgets and one's legislative aides.

    Chair Randall's violation of Section 8 of the Code is that she has failed to avoid even the appearance of a conflict of interest having Tia Walbridge emcee the event and having a Democrat donor and Democrat campaign operative speak at the event.

    Chair Randall's violations of Section 10 of the Code are that she is granting a special favor to Ms. Walbridge by making her emcee of the event after she announced her candidacy for Blue Ridge Supervisor.

    Chair Randall's violations of Section 11 of the Code are that she is using county resources, county staff and staff compensated by Loudoun County for reasons other than county business. As stated above, this is nothing more than a political campaign event. County staff are planning and working at the event. The agenda for the event includes county staff and representatives from the Loudoun County Department of Economic Development, the Loudoun Office of Virginia Cooperative Extension, Loudoun County Soil and Water Conservation Board, the Zoning Ordinance Action Group and the Rural Economic Development Council.

Timeline:

January 21, 2016: The Loudoun County Board of Supervisors adopted the Loudoun County Code of Ethics.

September 21, 2018: Loudoun Now reports that Tia Walbridge announced her candidacy for the Blue Ridge District seat on the Board of Supervisors.

October 30, 2018: Chair Randall sends out a press release on Loudoun County letterhead announcing she would be hosting a Rural Summit on November 16, 2018 at the Salamander Resort in Middleburg, Virginia. The press release named Tia Walbridge as emcee, Democrat donor Robert Bonnie as the featured "federal" speaker, and Cassidy Rasnick as the featured "state" speaker.

November 5, 2018: Loudoun Now reported that Chair Randall would host the Rural Summit on November 16, 2018.

November 8, 2018: At the Board of Supervisors meeting, Supervisors Geary M. Higgins and Tony R. Buffington informed the Board they were not initially invited to the Rural Summit. They further informed the board they had only received invitations to merely attend after inquiring about it.

November 9, 2018: Loudoun Now reports that Supervisor Geary Higgins and Supervisor Tony Buffington "Decry 'Political" Rural Summit." Chair Randall was quoted condescendingly blaming the backlash caused by her using county funds to finance a political campaign event on the emotions surrounding the outcome of the 2018 midterm election in Virginia's 10th Congressional District. (Source)

November 12, 2018: Loudoun Times Mirror reports that the Board is "divided on 'political' rural summit." Again, Supervisor Geary Higgins and Supervisor Tony Buffington point out the blatant political nature of the Summit. Randall again blames their concerns on the Supervisors' emotional reaction to the 2018 mid-term election results. (Source)

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