Still waiting for Euille’s response

Still waiting for Euille’s response

To the editor: 

I commend Alexandria Times for releasing the extensive report, “Former Mayor Euille was focus of FBI probe,” on February 13, by the Alexandria Journalism Project regarding the financial transaction between then-Mayor Bill Euille and Hubert Hoffman. 

It was a well-documented piece of reporting that requires an explanation from Euille. Thus far, the silence has been deafening. 

I have read on social media where some have speculated that the failure of the U.S. Attorney’s Office to prosecute the case that the FBI brought to them implies that Euille did nothing wrong in accepting more than a quarter of a million dollars from a major landowner and developer in the city. 

People have speculated that perhaps there was the sale of a property, or some other business transaction. Others have speculated that it was pay to play. Since the FBI does not reveal the outcome of its investigations, and the U.S. Attorney’s decisions are also confidential, we are left to speculate what that payment was for. 

But the fact is that it really doesn’t matter what the payment was for. It was a very large financial transaction between a sitting mayor and, as the investigative story pointed out, a major landowner who came before Council to amend numerous special use permits to allow far more density on his land holdings than had been granted previously. 

This fact is relevant to all Alexandrians because no matter what the purpose of the payment was, this payment violates the Code of Virginia, Title 30-108, which states: “A legislator who has a personal interest in a transaction shall disqualify himself from participation in the transaction.” 

The language goes on to state: “Unless otherwise prohibited by the rules of his house, the disqualification requirement of this section shall not prevent any legislator from participating in discussions and debates, provided (i) he verbally discloses the fact of his personal interest in the transaction at the outset of the discussion or debate or as soon as practical thereafter and (ii) he does not vote on the transaction in which he has a personal interest.” 

As the Times’ investigative story points out, at no time did Euille disclose or recuse himself from voting in any Council meeting when the Hoffman properties were being voted on. Even with Virginia’s and Alexandria’s very weak ethics laws, this is a violation of the legal requirement to disclose and recuse. 

But furthermore, at its core, it is an affront to basic decency and honesty. And yet, we are still waiting for an explanation from Euille – but none has been forthcoming. 

As former Mayor Allison Silberberg stated in the article, “This is about the public trust. This matter is between former Mayor Euille and the people of Alexandria.” The article also says that she stated “Alexandrians deserve to know whatever the truth is about the check.” 

She is right. To me, it is a violation of the Code of Virginia. It is also a breach of trust. It is infuriating and wrong. 

-John Frost,