The Arlington County Board Democratic primary debate this evening between Libby Garvey and Erik Gutshall was the most interesting one to date, in part because the candidates were able to ask each other questions. I’ll upload more video later (check out the comments section), but I’ll start now with a question from Gutshall to Garvey on whether she “ever accept[ed] campaign contributions from a large landowner and developer who often comes in front of the County Board” (see video below).
First, the facts.
- Libby Garvey declared her candidacy for Arlington County Board on November 17, 2011, following then-County Board member Barbara Favola’s victory in the race for State Senate (thus creating a vacancy on the Arlington County Board).
- A couple weeks later, on December 2, 2011, Garvey received a $250 contribution from Timothy Helmig of Monday Properties, a real estate developer that’s very active in Arlington, and which often comes before the County Board.
So, clearly, Garvey DID “accept campaign contributions from a large landowner and developer who often comes in front of the County Board.” Yet Garvey’s answer to the question was a point-blank “no,” that she’s actually returned checks because she thought they “might come before the Board” (although, oddly, she said that she’d “take $100 from anybody,” because “who’s going to think $100 is going to affect me in anything?”).
In response, Gutshall noted (accurately): “it’s a matter of public record that in the 2011 race for County Board, that the COO of one of the largest property owners in Rossyln did in fact give a campaign donation to Ms. Garvey’s campaign and has subsequently come before the Board several times.”
Garvey responded that she was on the School Board in 2011 (true, but misleading; again, Garvey declared for County Board on November 17, 2011) and that she didn’t “necessarily know I was even running for the County Board” (strange response; she certainly knew she was running for County Board by November 17, 2011, when she declared, and presumably she knew at least a few weeks if not months prior to that, given that then-County Board member Barbara Favola was almost certainly going to be moving up to the State Senate following her primary victory back in August 2011, creating a vacancy on the Arlington County Board).
Anyway, I thought it was a striking exchange, definitely worth passing along IMHO. With that, let’s go to the videotape!