Loudoun County Supervisor Eugene Delgaudio greets parents and children… (Tracy A. Woodward/THE WASHINGTON…)
She worked from a spreadsheet that listed more than a thousand names and the political campaigns to which they had contributed. For weeks earlier this year, she said, she sat in a county office, while on county time, and spent hours calling them, one by one.
The goal was to arrange meetings with the donors and her boss, four-term Loudoun County Supervisor Eugene A. Delgaudio (R-Sterling), one of the region’s most controversial politicians, who is known for his animated diatribes from the dais.
If she was successful, Donna Mateer, a part-time aide, was to list the appointment in a Google calendar titled “Eugene 2012 Campaign Schedule,” she said.
Since then, Mateer came to believe that what she was doing was unethical. She filed a complaint with the county’s Human Resources Department that also alleged a hostile work environment.
Her accusations add to the controversy surrounding Delgaudio, who has publicly denounced gay people as “perverts” and “freaks” and routinely injected himself into heated political battles across the country through his conservative nonprofit group, Public Advocate of the United States.
In particular, Delgaudio has used Public Advocate to rail against same-sex-marriage initiatives in various states and argue that federal anti-bullying legislation and even airport pat-downs are evidence of a “radical homosexual” agenda.
In Loudoun, the veteran supervisor has long been viewed as something of an eccentric, but recently he has gained more widespread attention. This year, Public Advocate was designated as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. On Tuesday, the civil rights group announced that it would file a federal lawsuit Wednesday claiming that Public Advocate unlawfully used an altered version of a same-sex couple’s engagement photo on anti-gay-marriage campaign literature in Colorado.
Asked about the pending lawsuit Tuesday, Delgaudio said in an e-mail that he was “looking into that.” He did not comment further.
In interviews, he has steadfastly maintained that he has done nothing wrong and strongly denied that he used any county resources to help benefit his political campaign, which would amount to a violation of a county policy that prohibits employees from engaging in political activities “during assigned working hours.”
But three Northern Virginia residents who agreed to meet with Delgaudio told The Washington Post that he sought contributions to his campaign.
Delgaudio acknowledged that some members of his staff were instructed to spend as much as 50 to 60 percent of their time making calls and scheduling meetings for him. But he said the goal was to raise money for one of his favorite community organizations — the Lower Loudoun Boys Football League — and not his campaign.
“I’m simply going to open up a conversation [with the potential donors] and then later, over a period of years, ask them for a large gift for the [football league],” Delgaudio said.
The literature he handed out at the meetings was for his political campaign, however. “I don’t have other documents that describe myself, sadly,” he said.
And in the meetings he spoke at length about his public office and conservative values, which he said could have left some confusion about what the donation was for.
“Yes, I am definitely promoting myself,” Delgaudio said. “I’m definitely pushy. . . . There’s room for confusion. Absolutely.”
But when Bruce Hutchison, a dentist in Fairfax County, met with Delgaudio on Jan. 9, it was clear to Hutchison that the solicitation “was for [Delgaudio] as a politician,” he said.
“He told me that he was very proud of me because I was a good supporter of Republican values,” Hutchinson said. “I didn’t quite get where he was coming from. And then he left me a brochure and said he would be glad to take a donation of any kind.”
Hutchison said he was surprised to receive a call from Delgaudio’s office requesting a meeting because he had never heard of Delgaudio before. “He’s not even my [representative] or anything,” he said.
Two members of the Loudoun business community, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they did not want to be associated with Delgaudio’s activities, also said Delgaudio spoke of his political interests and requested campaign donations during meetings scheduled by Mateer early this year.
“I don’t recall that he set an amount, but it was suggested that if I was so inclined and felt that I was aligned with some of his positions and views . . . that he would gladly accept” a contribution, one Loudoun man said. “He was obviously soliciting funds to continue his campaign.”
Hutchison could not recall if he wrote a check or not but said it would have been no more than a token amount, small enough so that it would not be required to show up on a campaign finance report. The other two said they did not contribute.
Supervisor in the spotlight