- The Washington Times - Sunday, December 12, 2004

Virginia Democrats are using their civil settlement with state Republicans over a 2002 eavesdropping scandal to suggest the likely Republican nominee for governor is a poor leader.

Last week, state Republicans agreed to settle the civil suit by paying $750,000 to the 33 Democratic legislators who were on two wiretapped conference calls.

Attorney General Jerry W. Kilgore, a Republican who will be running for governor, is central to the case.

After the first conference call was intercepted and taped, Mr. Kilgore’s office learned that top Republican officials had eavesdropped, and alerted state police to the crime. But no one told the Democrats who were on the call that a planned second call was about to be intercepted.

Criminal charges in 2002 led to top party resignations and a felony charge for state Republican Party Executive Director Edmund A. Matricardi III.

The Democrats brought a civil suit this year to show that Mr. Kilgore could have prevented the crime from happening but didn’t.

Delegate Brian J. Moran, Alexandria Democrat and House Democratic Caucus chairman, said the depositions are “troubling.”

“The attorney general’s ability to lead and have courage clearly should be [a campaign issue],” Mr. Moran said after the settlement. “Character counts.”

Mr. Kilgore asserted that were it not for his office, the crime never would have been reported to police.

“My office did the right thing,” the attorney general said at a recent forum.

Lt. Gov. Timothy M. Kaine, Mr. Kilgore’s likely Democratic opponent in the gubernatorial race, said the attorney general failed to do his job in the matter.

“That’s not leadership,” Mr. Kaine said at a recent debate with Mr. Kilgore. “I just can’t fathom that logic. The only thing that explains it is that the perpetrator was a friend and the victims were political opponents. Virginians deserve better.”

Mr. Moran expressed a similar sentiment.

“He had every obligation to stop that crime,” Mr. Moran said of the attorney general. “He knew about it and took no action. He didn’t act. That’s very important for Virginians to know because this guy is trying to lead this state.”

Mr. Kilgore said the “spin” from the Democrats was “amazing.”

“I’ve moved on,” he said. “If it’s not a dead horse, it’s in a comatose state. If he wants to hold a vigil around this dead horse for the next year, more power to him. The issue is behind me.”

• Schaefer rumors

Rumors continue to swirl in Annapolis that Maryland’s top elected Democrat will bolt to the Republican Party.

However, spokesman Michael Golden, says his boss, Comptroller William Donald Schaefer, has no plans to leave the party.

“I think any rumors are definitely coming from people who are angling for this job and those who think they portray what the Democratic Party is all about,” Mr. Golden said. “The fact is that William Donald Schaefer is clearly the most popular Democrat in the state. He has gotten more votes than anyone in any party at any time.”

• Official pleads guilty

Former Wicomico County, Md., Jury Commissioner Gay Hommel pleaded guilty Dec. 6 to taking more than $143,000 from a county bank account over four years.

Hommel, 42, pleaded guilty to a theft scheme charge, filing a false tax return and related charges. She was indicted on 152 charges earlier this year.

From 1999 through 2003, Hommel wrote checks from an account used to buy office supplies and pay jurors and court bailiffs and deposited the money into her own account.

Hommel was fired in July 2003 after the scheme was discovered by a supervisor searching Hommel’s office for an office birthday card.

• Small-town dust-up

The mayor of Frederica, Del., was sentenced to a year of probation Tuesday and ordered to have no unlawful contact with a local resident who said he had been the victim of threats and harassment.

As part of a deal reached with Mayor William “Chick” Glanden, 50, prosecutors agreed to drop charges of terroristic threatening and criminal trespassing, as well as four counts of violating a no-contact order.

Mr. Glanden accepted probation before judgment on a single count of harassment and was ordered to pay $45 in court costs. If he complies with a court order not to have any unlawful contact with Frederica resident Christopher Langley, he will have no criminal record on the harassment charge.

Court of Common Pleas Judge Charles Welch III told Mr. Glanden and Mr. Langley that he hoped not to see them in court again.

“You’re going to have to learn to live together and be civil to each other,” Judge Welch said.

Mr. Glanden’s attorney, Charles Whitehurst, reached a deal with prosecutors just as jury selection was about to begin.

“I think everybody has reached the conclusion that this was a lot about nothing,” said Mr. Whitehurst, who refused to allow Mr. Glanden to speak to reporters. “We think the case was resolved in a manner that was appropriate.”

Mr. Langley, 44, said he was satisfied with the outcome.

“I have no doubt we can get along,” he said. “I’m going to live my life the way I’ve always lived my life. I’ve never done anything wrong.”

Mr. Glanden was arrested in August after Mr. Langley told police that the mayor in June repeatedly had driven by properties Mr. Langley owns, ignored “No Trespassing” signs and made a threatening gesture toward him. Mr. Langley also said that after he complained publicly in August about problems with the town’s fire hydrants and water tower, Mr. Glanden called him and began cursing and threatening him.

Mr. Glanden was arrested again in October on four counts of noncompliance with conditions of his release after the August arrest, when he was told to have no contact with Mr. Langley other than during town meetings.

In addition to avoiding unlawful contact with Mr. Langley, Mr. Glanden was ordered Tuesday not to step foot on the three properties Mr. Langley owns in the tiny town.

Mr. Glanden rejected a previous agreement with prosecutors that called for him not to have any contact at all with Mr. Langley.

Mr. Langley said the dispute stems from the mayor’s failed attempt to get rid of the town’s police chief. The Town Council refused to go along with Mr. Glanden, who said earlier this year that the town could not afford two police officers.

Last week, a Chancery Court judge granted Mr. Glanden a temporary restraining order against three Town Council members who voted to suspend him from his duties in October, after his second arrest.

Vice Chancellor John Noble said the council members had no authority under the state constitution to suspend Mr. Glanden.

After Mr. Glanden indicated that he would ignore the council’s vote and continue to preside over council meetings, the same three members canceled two scheduled meetings last month. They also voted to fire town solicitor William Pepper, who informed them the day after the vote to oust Mr. Glanden that they had no authority to do so.

Mr. Pepper contends that his firing was illegal because the council members did not comply with legal meeting notice requirements.

• Allen hires help

Dick Wadhams, the Republican operative credited with engineering the defeat of Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle, South Dakota Democrat, has found a new job — with Sen. George Allen of Virginia.

Mr. Wadhams will start work Jan. 3 as chief of staff for Mr. Allen, a potential 2008 presidential candidate.

Mr. Wadhams had a string of victories in Colorado before heading to South Dakota this year. He managed Wayne Allard’s successful 1996 and 2002 senatorial campaigns, and was the campaign manager for Bill Owens, who in 1998 became the first Republican elected governor in Colorado in 24 years.

Four years ago, he took the ailing campaign of Sen. Conrad Burns, Montana Republican, and turned it into a victory.

Mr. Wadhams said he became acquainted with Mr. Allen during the Senate campaign in South Dakota, when Mr. Allen campaigned for John Thune, the eventual victor.

• Robert Redding Jr. and Christina Bellantoni contributed to this column, which is based in part on wire service reports.

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