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LoBuglio lodges “official protest of impropriety” against Jim Howard

An “official protest of impropriety” lodged with King George county administrator Travis Quesenberry and Registrar Lorrie Gump by James Monroe Supervisor John LoBuglio on Monday, Oct. 15, will not be pursued at law by interim county attorney Jeff Gore.


LoBuglio made claims against a former county supervisor, Jim Howard.
The complaint appeared to be an attempt to discredit Howard and head off a potential opponent for election to the James Monroe seat, which was held by Howard prior to LoBuglio’s election in November 2009. 
Gore provided a 4-page response to LoBuglio dated Oct. 25, “Re: Impersonation of County Supervisor and use of county seal by former supervisor,” and, “Issue:  Is it illegal or improper for a former county supervisor to wear a county-issued shirt with a county seal/logo on it at a public event?”
Gore might have stopped at the first complete sentence in his response, which was, “No.”
But instead he thoroughly reviewed all possible state code sections in response to LoBuglio’s complaint, which bolstered his answer.

LOBUGLIO’S COMPLAINT
The body of the complaint from LoBuglio is reprinted below in its entirety. It reads as follows:
“I am entering an official protest of impropriety against James Howard for campaigning abuse, impersonation and deliberately misleading the public trust in office during the largest official county event of the year. This behavior is deliberately miss-representation before the public and public trust in government office holders. I request the county look into this matter for any illegality, misuse of county seal, elected position title and, impropriety under county and state codes by James Howard, former board member for wearing an official King George County office monogrammed shirt with his name and identifying himself as the “James Monroe District Member of the King George County Board of Supervisors and with the official county seal” while walking along the parade route at the King George Fall Festival campaigning for next year’s upcoming election. It is my belief, that this was a deliberate miss-representation to mislead the public during the largest crowd event of the year held in King George County to give a false impression of authority of office. I believe this should be forwarded to both Jeff Gore as the Board’s counsel and possibly the State Attorney General’s Office for comments and advice.”

INTERIM COUNTY ATTORNEY’S RESPONSE
The Journal obtained a copy of Gore’s response directly from LoBuglio. As noted, Gore thoroughly covered every base in his response to LoBuglio’s ‘protest.’  He cited state code on impersonating public officials, election laws, as well as county policies, none of which applied.
Gore’s conclusion states, “Given that Mr. Howard, not the county, is the owner of this shirt, and given that he did not appear to be attempting to conduct official county business, I do not think that his actions violated local, state or federal law. Whether he otherwise committed an impropriety is more of an ethical issue not covered by any official law or policy I have found in my research. If the board considers this to be a problem going forward, then I suggest that it consider adopting a policy whereby the official county shirts must be returned by board member when they leave office. If you wish to pursue this matter further as a potential violation of state election laws, then I suggest filing a complaint with the King George County Commonwealth Attorney who has jurisdiction over such matters.”
The complete document can be accessed online at The Journal’s website, <journalpress.com>.

COMMENTS FROM JIM HOWARD
The Journal asked Howard about LoBuglio’s complaint, of which he was already aware.
Howard said he attended the parade with two family members and did not walk the parade route campaigning for next year’s election. “In fact, I didn’t walk the parade route at all.” Instead, he parked near Social Services and viewed the parade from where it started.
Howard categorically denied LoBuglio’s claims, saying, “I did not wear any shirt that identified me as the James Monroe District Supervisor.  I did not represent myself as a member of the Board of Supervisors to anyone.”
He added, “It seems that Mr. LoBuglio decided to accuse me of many different ‘violations’ in hopes that something would stick.”
After the parade, Howard drove to a school parking lot to attend the festival. He said he had worn a fleece jacket with the county seal on it that he often wears and had acquired while on the Board of Supervisors. 
He said he removed the jacket after the parade because the weather had warmed up, wearing a Notre Dame sweatshirt at the fair.
Howard served as a member of the Board of Supervisors for several successive terms totaling 10 years. Howard has a long history of public service in King George.  Prior to his last tenure on the Board of Supervisors, he served a 4-year term on the School Board from 1987-91.  Before that he had served three years on the Board of Supervisors in the in the late 1970s.
Howard has not made it a secret that he is toying with a run for election to the James Monroe supervisor slot currently held by LoBuglio next year.
He told The Journal, “While I have not announced a run for next year’s election, I am considering it.”

Phyllis Cook

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