by Ram Venkatachalam
Until recently, members of the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors haven’t tried to sell themselves as international diplomats and business development experts. They aren’t.
Nor do we have a long history of waste, fraud, and abuse when it comes to how members of local government spend our tax dollars, especially for money budgeted for constituent services.
But now four Democrat members of the Board have been caught red-handed in the biggest local government scandal in decades. This is what Entitlement looks like.
This year alone, Chair Phyliss Randall, and Supervisors Juli Briskman, Sylvia Glass, and Koran Saines have violated their oath of office by diverting nearly $100,000 in taxpayer money (that we know of) for first-class travel for themselves and others to Ghana and Uruguay. They even purchased a pricey camera to take pictures of themselves because it wasn’t enough to use their taxpayer-paid cell phones.
That money could have been spent to hire another elementary school teacher, firefighter, or deputy sheriff this year. Instead, it was wasted.
Our taxes paid for these four to travel with their aides, a political campaign donor and others under the guise of “sister city” partnerships – without a compelling reason, and with no return on investment.
The four supervisors did this out of a sense of entitlement, and Loudoun taxpayers paid 100% of the bill. Then, after being confronted by an investigative reporter for WJLA-TV7, they doubled down, and Chair Randall defended their actions. Many of their political allies have done the same, including Laura Tekrony, my opponent in the contest for Supervisor, Little River District. Ms. Tekrony is Chair Randall’s chief legislative aide, and her prolonged silence about the abuse is telling.
Instead of an apology or accountability from the four elected supervisors, Loudoun is being fed lies that more than $1.37 billion in investments and 2,500 local jobs resulted from these and similar “sister city” trips. In fact, the trips have produced absolutely nothing in economic benefits – zero dollars and no jobs, as documented by the county’s own records.
Supervisor Kristen Umstattd, a fellow Democrat, immediately, unequivocally, and publicly called out this misuse of taxpayer money by her colleagues once it became known. She also proposed significant changes to the Board’s travel policy that may be voted on as early as next month.
I am thankful for Supervisor Umstattd’s integrity and support for the policy changes, but we need more.
I call for the money spent by Chair Randall, and Supervisors Briskman, Glass, and Saines on the Ghana and Uruguay trips to be paid back out of their own pockets.
It’s our money, not theirs, and their lie is now exposed.
Ram Venkatachalam is a candidate for the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors in the Little River District.
Republished with permission from The Bull Elephant.