Home Local Politics Loudoun’s Appearance of Corruption

Loudoun’s Appearance of Corruption

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November 8th will be an interesting day in Loudoun County. There are a rather significant number of threads that, stitched together, form a fabric of pre-electoral corruption with post-electoral significance that will extend into the next decade.

Take the case of Loudoun developer and cable company owner MC Dean. MC Dean and company has spent twenty years building developments in Loudoun, thanks to their close, personal relationships with people on the current, and previous, Board of Supervisors. There’s a funny thing about these developments, too. There’s a monopoly cable provider – OpenBand – with exclusive rights to provide Internet and TV service to those communities. OpenBand is, of course, owned by the Dean family as well.

This year, the OpenBand cable franchise is up for renewal by the Board of Supervisors here in Loudoun County. Many of the communities who OpenBand serves are actually suing OpenBand, their experiences have been so bad. Of course, those communities and residents don’t vote on the cable franchise renewal. The members of the Board of Supervisors do.

So it is interesting to note the buckets of money that MC Dean and OpenBand (and their owners and executives) have been contributing to certain Supervisor races.

Follow below the break for the details of what is going on.

The acceptance of campaign money from companies with business before the Board is one of the key issues that got the previous Board of Supervisors tossed out on its tail in 2007. It’s corruption, plain and simple. So why isn’t this a bigger deal?

Well, a funny thing happened on the way to 2011 in Loudoun County. In 2007, there were four or five independent papers, including the Washington Post’s own Loudoun weekly as part of that paper’s weekly edition. Indeed, it was the Post who broke the inappropriate coziness between developer money and Supervisor campaigns wide open. But since 2007, the Post has closed its Loudoun paper down, one of the independent papers closed down, and the two of the others merged.

The two that merged were the Loudoun Times-Mirror, considered the largest and most widely-read daily in the County by many people, and the Loudoun Independent. There’s a funny thing about that former Loudoun Independent:

Peter Arundel, President & CEO of Times Community News, a unit of privately owned ArCom Publishing, Inc., announced today that The Loudoun Times-Mirror and The Loudoun Independent newspapers will merge to form a new multi-media franchise serving readers and advertisers across Loudoun County through print, online and cable news operations.

William H. Dean, President & CEO of M. C. Dean, owner of The Independent and an established cable franchise, will become a stakeholder and investor in the newly formed company and a member of the new company’s Board of Directors. – Virginia Press Association

That’s right, the owner of MC Dean and company, and OpenBand, now sits on the Board of Directors of the main independent paper in Loudoun County.

Is there any wonder that there hasn’t been much reporting about political influence peddling by Dean-connected companies?

But the press isn’t, of course, formally charged with investigating and prosecuting cases of corruption. That’s the job of the Commonwealth’s Attorney. There’s only one problem, here in Loudoun the Commonwealth’s Attorney is Jim Plowman. And he’s part of the problem, not the solution. Indeed, Mr. Plowman has a long history of playing politics with his office and ignoring evidence of real conflicts of interest. If the Commonwealth’s Attorney isn’t investigating, then there’s no story there, right?

Which brings us to the candidacy of one Ralph Buona for Ashburn Supervisor. Mr Buona is the former head of the Chamber of Commerce in Loudoun, of which of course both MC Dean and Company and OpenBand are members. Indeed, he has the nearly unanimous backing of almost all major corporate interests in Loudoun. Mr. Buona has accepted thousands of dollars in donations from MC Dean, as well as the the endorsement of the Loudoun Times-Mirror. Of course, he well knows that should he win, he will be voting on the OpenBand cable franchise. A franchise which could lock tens of thousands of Loudoun residents into many more years of bad service at high prices. And yet, in spite of that knowledge, he takes the campaign contributions anyway. And no one says anything.

It is understandable that Loudoun’s own splinter of right-wing crazy, Eugene Delgaudio, cares not a whit for any appearance of integrity, and takes Dean money proudly (while dehumanizing his constituents from the dais). But Mr. Buona is supposed to be a “different kind of Republican” in Loudoun, one with more integrity. At least, that’s how he’s billed himself.

And there remains no voices in the press to ask these critical questions of influence. And we voters, who all have kids, families and jobs to deal with (30% of Loudoun County’s population is under the age of 18!) are being kept in the dark.

This isn’t about schools, or jobs, or taxes. This is about the capture of our local government by those who stand to make the most money from governmental decisions. And it is just, plain, wrong.