LEESBURG, Va. — A group of voters are asking a Virginia court to oust Eugene Delgaudio, leader of the anti-gay hate group Public Advocate of the United States, from his public office as a Loudoun County, Va., Supervisor.
The petition to remove Delgaudio, supplemented by a 26-page legal filing, was filed Monday afternoon with the Loudoun County Circuit Court, and contained signatures from 686 voters in Delgaudio’s Sterling, Va., district, alleging conflict of interest, negligence of county responsibilities, and a merging of his county duties with his anti-gay advocacy.
On Tuesday, the court — which is required by statute to issue a “rule to show cause” — ordered Delgaudio to appear Feb 5 to respond to the allegations and explain why he should not be removed from office.
The court could could determine whether to set the matter for trial or dismiss the case.
Al Nevarez, a group organizer and spokesman for the “Sterling Deserves Better” campaign against Delgaudio, told LGBTQ Nation that Delgaudio’s leadership of Public Advocate – named to the Southern Poverty Law Center‘s “hate group” watch list – was an integral component to the campaign to remove him.
Virginia statute allows for the removal of an elected official 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.”
Nevarez says that many residents are 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,” and that controversy surrounding Delgaudio’s legal troubles and ongoing anti-gay advocacy has become “an embarrassment” for the county.
Leesburg attorney John Flannery, who filed the motion Monday on behalf of the petitioners, said in a 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.”
Last year, Delgaudio was formally censured by the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors in the wake of a grand jury report that suggested he misused county funds and his staff.
Delgaudio was stripped of any power to serve on standing committees or regional partnership organizations, his district office funds were shifted to the budgetary control of the full board, and his funds were also taken away.
The action followed a grand jury investigation that Delgaudio misused county resources for personal and political gain after a staff members told the Washington Post she was often carrying out fundraising duties for the supervisor instead of working on constituent services.
The grand jury concluded its investigation in late June but did not bring an indictment against Delgaudio; instead, it took the “extraordinary” step of issuing a final overview recapping what was discovered through the process.
Delgaudio is also the target of a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Denver over alleged copyright violations by Delgaudio and his Public Advocate group for using a same-sex couple’s engagement photo in an anti-gay mailer. The suit was brought by the SPLC on behalf of the couple and their photographer.
Delgaudio’s attorney, Charles King, said Tuesday that he had not yet seen the petition and filing, and declined comment.