What’ll They Charge Chapman with Next? Letting His Grass Grow Too Tall?

Today’s Washington Post tells us that Steve Chapman, the 27-year-old challenger to Del. Harry Parrish, R-Manassas, will appear in court today–not to confront widely publicized charges that he lied about where he lived when he registered to vote last year, but to face misdemeanor charges that he’d let his dog, Nixon, “run at large.”

Nixon, a yellow Labrador retriever, allegedly escaped from the yard of Chapman’s Woodbridge home last August and was killed by a car. “He was a good dog,” Chapman said, as quoted by the Post. “I grew up loving politics and thought I’d name him after a president,” he said. “My cat’s name is Liddy, like G. Gordon Liddy.”

Chapman questioned why he would be served with a complaint April 22, nearly eight months after the incident took place, contending that the charge is just another example of Parrish supporters trying to bring him down. Parrish, 83, told the Post he knew nothing about the complaint.

If it looks like a vendetta, walks like a vendetta and quacks like a vendetta… (Thanks to Ray Hyde for first noting this story.)

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  1. Will Vehrs Avatar
    Will Vehrs

    I think you have to be in Fairfax County to get cited for unruly grass, but I’m sure someone is checking the Manassas ordinances.

  2. Chris Porter Avatar
    Chris Porter

    Charging a person with “dog running at large” when said dog was hit by a car is lower than low. Especially seven months after the fact.

    I don’t know if Del. Parrish is orchestrating this, or if the PW politicos are doing it out of loyalty, but it stinks either way.

  3. Anonymous Avatar

    Maybe they didn’t serve him in August because they didn’t know where he was living.

  4. Mattaponi Avatar

    It will be interesting to know where the alleged infraction occurred. But I must say, as unsympathetic a character as is Mr Chapman in a number of respects, the dog issue is quite poignant (at least from what has been reported.) The loss of a dog is a great tragedy. Is there more to this than a dog getting loose and killed by a car? Was the dog vicious? did it attack someone? If not, this really is piling on.

  5. Ray Hyde Avatar
    Ray Hyde

    Anonymous – nice Zing.

    Did the dog dig his way out adroitly, or was he just poorly restrained? Batteries go dead on the electric fence, or dog is an inveterate escape artist?

    Was the owner previously warned?

    As for grass: in Fairfax I’m required to cut grass, in Fauquier I’m required to grow it (more or less). Is there some rhyme or reason to this or is the “public benefit” defined by jurisdiction?

  6. This is definitely unfair, unless that dog was devouring infants left and right in the neighborhood.

  7. Anonymous Avatar

    The idea that any of these allegations are coming from the Parrish camp is an absolute joke. No one with even a cursory knowledge of PW politics sees Chapman as a legitimate candidate. He was simply put up as a reminder to Parrish that some of his constituants are displeased with his vote on the budget last year. Having talked to some in the Parrish camp, Chapman has never been taking seriously enough to risk the possible exposure and backlash that these incidents could bring.

    The truth is, outside of possible jail time and losing his right to ever vote again, these allegations will probably help him in the primary much more than they hurt him. Let’s face it, no one outside of the inner circle has ever even heard of Steve Chapman, and the majority who have wouldn’t vote for him. The whole “I’m the victim here” posture could actually generate some sympathy votes. Either way, he’ll still get killed in June.

    Of greater concern is the major credibility hit that PWC Republican Committee will take. A few of its extreme members offer this guy up as a sacrifice to the Taxpayer Alliance gods and end up with serious egg on their faces. If this guy is their “Republican of the Year”, recruiting is going to be a serious problem.

  8. Anonymous Avatar

    We know that the Parrish camp cared enough to at least investigate Chapman.

    We know that having done the investigation, they were at least involved enough that they turned over information about his living arrangement to the prosecuter. So we know they were at least somewhat involved.

    And we can be sure that it wasn’t a chapman supporter who dug up the old dog story and filed a complaint. It is likely it is a Parrish supporter. We don’t know if the campaign is involved, but…

    Given that after denying any involvement, questioning revealed that an investigator working for Parrish DID in fact turn over information that led to the housing charges, we should have someone ask the investigator if he turned up the dog story as well. Just to cover the bases.

    Because it seems odd that people who don’t live in the district would be waiting months and then filing dog complaints against a dog which has been dead for 8 months.

    I wonder if Parrish has a dog?

  9. Anonymous Avatar

    I’d say there is an equal chance that Chapman concocted this ruse.

    “I….[sniff]…loved that dog.”

  10. Will Vehrs Avatar
    Will Vehrs

    Well, he doesn’t have Nixon to kick around anymore. Or does he?

  11. Anonymous Avatar

    Is this what you call having a dog in the fight?

  12. Anonymous Avatar

    Is his cat, Liddy, bald?
    Suggest Steve get some tropical fish – they don’t need much attention at his Manassas flat and cannot run away. He can call the fish, Watergate.

  13. Mitch Cumstein Avatar
    Mitch Cumstein

    Has anyone else noticed how quiet VCAP has been througout the Chapman debacle? Their website has information about Oprison’s problems but nothing about Steve. I can’t help but think that, if they really believe him innocent and that this is just a Good Ol’ Boy conspiracy, they’d be jumping all over it. It looks more like their distancing themselves from Chapman. First smart thing they’ve done as far as I’m concerned, but I think it’s rather telling.

  14. Anonymous Avatar

    Mitch, VCAP was quoted as supporting Chapman and saying he lived in the district just fine. I think their silence on their site is just trying not to bring too much attention to the issue. the bigger deal made out of it, the worse he looks.

  15. Jason Kenney Avatar
    Jason Kenney


  16. Anonymous Avatar

    I can’t help but wonder if many of the commenters on this blog bothered to read the article before piling on Harry Parrish:

    “The dog complaint — originally made Aug. 14 and served to Chapman eight months later — came from the county’s animal control division”

    The complaint was made AUGUST 14. In DALE CITY (that’s NOT Manassas). BEFORE Chapman moved, BEFORE Chapman was running against Parrish.

    I suspect animal control has some delays in their system – investigation, service of complaint (remember he “moved” shortly after this – several times).

    Unless this dog was a nuisance, or unless Chapman was negligent in the dog’s death, I do agree that it is cold-hearted to charge the dog owner with anything. But we don’t know, maybe it was a nuisance. Or maybe it was killed through Chapman’s negligence. Or maybe it was just an unfortunate accident. Nobody knows, except of course, the commenters to this blog who have all been gifted with ESP.

  17. Anonymous Avatar

    Harry Parrish killed the dog. And then he ate it.

  18. Jason Kenney Avatar
    Jason Kenney

    I think it’s more that the timing here is suspect and not that Parrish himself had a hand in it but perhaps certain parties loyal to him. The timing is very suspect.

    If it did take Animal Control nearly 8 months to serve him, that’s horribly inefficient. And if it happened without any prior complaints or warnings, it’s also wrong.

  19. Anonymous Avatar

    So what we need to do is to contact Animal Control and find out how long they usually wait before filing their complaints.

    It would be reasonable to suspect that the complaint was self-generated after the accident. If a dog gets hit in the street without a leash and an owner standing their petrified, they can assume the dog was “running loose”.

    Or maybe the driver filed the complaint to make sure there was no suit for killing the dog. Since the complaint seems to have been filed when the accident occured, that would make sense.

    So the real question is, why did the Prince William Animal Control Board actually turn this into a criminal action? When did they decide to do so?

    Remember, this is the PW government, it includes parts of the 50th district, and there are probably Parrish supporters in the office (There are Parrish Supporters everywhere, he is a popular politician).

    Maybe it takes them this long to file complaints. But it just seems fishy. And one more thing: We know there was an investigator checking all the records. There probably was a record of this accident and the complaint filed. Could the investigator have found the complaint and prompted someone to pursue it further?

    We know the investigator prompted the county to pursue the question of Chapman’s voting in the November election. Is it unreasonable to ask if the investigator also prompted this?

    Nobody should assume they know the answer, but we shouldn’t check our intelligence at the door.

  20. El Equipo Progresivo Avatar
    El Equipo Progresivo

    If you morons would put this much thought and interest into figuring out how to solve issues we would all be much better off… Who gives a @#$% about the dog? I don’t! Grow up! What are these two candidate’s stand on issues? Is Chapman the better of the two? Is Parrish better suited to represent? Has a young man’s irresponsibility caught up with him? Looks like… Do any of you “thinkers” really believe that this is worthy of an all out conspiracy? Where the hell is the second shooter? Was there a grassy knoll? Was there a French mafia hit dog?

    What in the hell does any of this have to do with better representation of Virginians?

    There is no wonder that VA politics is so screwed up with people like you making the analysis.

    You are all of considerable gifts. Why don’t you put them to good use?

  21. Jim Bacon Avatar
    Jim Bacon

    First of all, el jefe, calling those who disagree with you “morons” does not advance your argument. It only diminishes it. Please maintain a civil tone.

    As for your substantive points… The issue is not Chapman’s dog. The issue is a possible abuse of power. The two charges against Chapman, coincidentally surfacing a month before the Republican primary and combined with Parrish’s admitted use of a hireling to conduct opposition research, raises the suspicion of an orchestrated effort against Chapman. Obviously, there’s no proof that the charges were filed for political reasons, but if the circumstances were reversed, and these things were happening to your favored candidate, I can assure you that you would be asking the same questions as the bloggers you criticize.

    I would submit to you that the issue we’re debating here — filing charges against a candidate for the purpose of smearing him politically — is not a trifling one. Indeed, such actions (if proven) would speak volumes about why it is so difficult for anyone to mount a successful challenge to an incumbent candidate in Virginia.

    Examining the minutia that you find so frivolous — how long does it normally take for the PWC animal control board to issue a citation? — is the path to the larger truth.

  22. Steven Avatar

    The blog post is like beating a dead dog, because it’s been a rough week for Steve Chapman. In other words, “let this sleeping dog lie”.

    Because “To err is human, to forgive is canine”

    ~ the blue dog

  23. El Equipo Progresivo Avatar
    El Equipo Progresivo

    Dear Mr. Bacon and other bloggers,
    Please accept my apology for calling some of you morons. Mr. Bacon is right in admonishing me to maintain a civil tone. I will do so in future posts.

    I do have a question…

    While I don’t disagree at all on the serious nature of mis-use of power and influence, and I also recognize the serious nature of the charges of providing false information regarding residence to run for office…

    Is all of the considerable thought and discussion here going to solve either of these questions?

    Is anyone doing what Mr. Bacon implies? “Examining the minutia that you find so frivolous — how long does it normally take for the PWC animal control board to issue a citation? — is the path to the larger truth.”

    Is anyone researching how long this process takes? Or only speculating on this blog? If someone has the dedication to actually run this down with investigation, then you are doing everyone a real civic service and thank you.

    Here is something else to consider:
    This is happening between republican candidates…
    Will those who are so adamant in their defense of candidate Chapman and who are also so very horrified at the tactics being used jump up in defense of a democratic candidate when those same tactics are used against the dem? Or against an independent?

    I will repeat what I said before:
    You are all of considerable gifts. Why don’t you put them to good use?

    This is a phenomenon that I do find distressing.
    People are so easily distracted and all too willing to run off on this or that tangent.

    Stay focused.

    Oh and by the way Mr. Bacon, this is a great site, thank you for keeping it going. I will behave from now on…

  24. Ray Hyde Avatar
    Ray Hyde

    We must absolutely not ever, under any circumstances, engage in thinking that is doctrinaire.

    Seriously though, I’d be interested to know how many citations get written for dogs running loose, and how long they take to process.

    Maybe there is another whole cost-cutting thread to open.

    I recall meeting a man with a doberman on the street in Georgetown. The dog had the human end of the leash in its mouth. I looked at the man and said, “Leash law, huh?” “Yep”, he replied, “The law says the dog has to be on a leash, it doesn’t say I gotta be on a leash.”

    No matter what law you write, someone will wiggle around it, use it to advantage, or abuse it. This may or may not be a case of the latter.

    Even if we don’t resolve this here, the next time someone contemplates such a thing, he may think twice if he thinks someone is watching.

  25. Jim Bacon Avatar
    Jim Bacon

    El Jefe, Apology accepted. And you do raise a good point. It would be great if bloggers could do more than raise questions and speculate. It would be great if we had the wherewithal to actually conduct research and answer questions. Until we develop that capability, our ability to influence events will be limited indeed.

  26. Yeah…unfortunately, the whole business of blogging mostly involves relying on other people’s sources and speculating and analyzing. Most of us have day jobs and don’t have the time to do actual research. Occasionally we can call a friend in an agency or email them a question, though.

    sometimes the best blogs are written by the people who actually ARE the sources. People in agencies. Politicians in disguise.

  27. Will Vehrs Avatar
    Will Vehrs

    I am trying, as we speak, to contact Prince William County Animal Control to find out about the lag time between complaint and citation in general and any specifics on this case in particular.

    Chapman’s campaign is making automated calls in the District.

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