Hallelujah! Anti-Gay Activist Loses Day Job As VA County Supervisor

Eugene Delgaudio (image courtesy Delgaudio's Twitter)
Eugene Delgaudio (image courtesy Delgaudio’s Twitter)

There are some real pieces of work in the anti-gay crowd. But even by those standards, veteran activist Eugene Delgaudio is one of the worst of all. Delgaudio is best known as the founder and president of Public Advocate of the United States, a far-right outfit known for staging street theater protests against gay rights. Since 2012, it’s been designated as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

But Delgaudio was also known as a four-term member of the board of supervisors (county commission) of Loudoun County, Virginia–representing the Sterling area. I say “was” because last night, he was narrowly defeated in his bid for a fifth term by Democrat Koran Saines. Despite the paper-thin margin–216 votes out of more than 6,000 cast–it is just over the threshold that would allow Delgaudio to seek a recount.

The ouster of Delgaudio overshadowed a history-making moment. When Saines is sworn in, he will become one of the first two blacks ever to serve on the board. The other is Phyllis Randall, who defeated four-term board chairman Scott York to become the first person of color to chair a county board in the Commonwealth.

To give you an idea of the kind of person Delgaudio is, consider that in 2012, he swiped a picture of a gay wedding and used it in a flyer to attack a Republican candidate in a Colorado state senate primary as being pro-gay. The couple and the photographer sued him for copyright infringement and misappropriation. Last year, a federal judge threw out the misappropriation claim, saying that the flyer was protected speech. He did, however, allow the copyright infringement claim to move forward.

But Delgaudio has also been under fire for his work on the county board. In 2012, one of Delgaudio’s district office aides told The Washington Post that Delgaudio made her raise money for his reelection campaigns on Loudoun County’s dime and created a hostile work environment. She also claimed that for all intents and purposes, Delgaudio’s office was acting as a bureau for his right-wing activist group.

The allegations triggered a criminal investigation led by Theo Stamos, the commonwealth’s attorney (district attorney) in nearby Arlington County. In 2013, a grand jury only declined to indict Delgaudio because it found that county supervisors serve part-time, and were thus not covered by Virginia laws against misuse of public money. It did, however, find that there was an “indistinct association” between Delgaudio the county supervisor and Delgaudio the anti-gay activist.

When the members of the all-Republican board of supervisors got their hands on the report, they came down on Delgaudio with hobnail boots. They not only censured him, but took him off one of his committees and transferred control of his district’s budget to the full board. Delgaudio later got one of his seats back, and regained control of his district’s budget a year later. Due in part to Delgaudio’s behavior, Virginia closed the loophole that allowed Delgaudio to escape behind frogmarched.

A group of Sterling residents, however, felt that even if Delgaudio’s actions weren’t criminal at the time, they still proved he was unfit for office. In February 2014, asked a judge to remove Delgaudio from office. Virginia law allows constituents to remove an elected official from office for gross dereliction of duty. Although the petition language largely echoed the grand jury’s findings, a judge dismissed the case in July 2014 for lack of evidence.

Delgaudio may have declared victory at the time, but he seemed to forget that laws only set the minimum standard of behavior that keeps you out of jail. Just because something may be legal doesn’t make it acceptable. Apparently the people of Sterling came to this same conclusion. They declared that they do not want their elected officials using county offices, county money, and county time to run anti-gay organizations.

Darrell is a 30-something graduate of the University of North Carolina who considers himself a journalist of the old school. An attempt to turn him into a member of the religious right in college only succeeded in turning him into the religious right's worst nightmare--a charismatic Christian who is an unapologetic liberal. His desire to stand up for those who have been scared into silence only increased when he survived an abusive three-year marriage. You may know him on Daily Kos as Christian Dem in NC. Follow him on Twitter @DarrellLucus or connect with him on Facebook. Click here to buy Darrell a Mello Yello.