Schilling-Show-70s-Logo-150x150Following revelations of cell phone and credit card abuse in the Charlottesville General Registrar’s office, pressure is mounting for the removal of Sheri Iachetta.

A group of prominent Charlottesville Democrats and Republicans, including the leadership of both parties, has issued a strongly worded call for the immediate suspension of embattled Charlottesville Registrar Iachetta, by the Charlottesville Electoral Board. In addition, the letter’s signatories demand the resignation of the entire electoral board, which consists of Republican Rick Sincere, and Democrats Jim Nix and Joan Schatzman.

The letter comes a day after similar demand from the Jefferson Area Tea Party.

In an email correspondence sent to the media, former Charlottesville Mayor, Tom Vandever, prefaced the letter to the electoral board as follows:

From: Tom Vandever [mailto:tvandever@ntelos.net]
Sent: Wednesday, October 29, 2014 9:34 AM
To:joanschatzman@gmail.com‘; ‘jim-nix@comcast.net‘; Rick Sincere (ricksincere@gmail.com)
Subject: Letter Requesting Immediate Suspension of City Registrar and Resignation of the Electoral Board

 Dear Joan, Jim, and Rick:

Attached is a letter to you signed by Nancy O’Brien, John Conover, Jennifer Brown, Barbara Null, Erin Monaghan, Pam DeGuzman, and me.  The letter expresses our collective disappointment in your actions as Electoral Board members and also notes our collective loss of confidence in your leadership and your ability to restore the public confidence in the Office of the Registrar.  The letter requests that you immediately suspend Sheri Iachetta from her duties and that you resign from your positions on the Electoral Board.

We regret that this action has become necessary, but it has been required by your failure to take appropriate action.

 Sincerely,

Tom Vandever
John Conover
Nancy O’Brien
Jennifer Brown
Barbara Null
Pam DeGuzman
Erin Monaghan

Following is the actual letter sent to the Charlottesville Electoral Board:

October 29, 2014

Dear Charlottesville Electoral Board Members:

We write to express our extreme dismay and disappointment in your actions as members of the Charlottesville Electoral Board.

Your continued refusal to address the mounting problems caused by Registrar Sheri Iachetta’s willful misappropriation of public funds has sadly produced:

  • significant erosion of public trust in the city’s Registrar and the Electoral Board, and
  • severe loss of public confidence in the judgment of the current Electoral Board members.Consequently, we demand that you:
    • immediately place the Registrar, Sheri Iachetta, on administrative leave; and,
    • subsequently resign your positions as members of the Charlottesville Electoral Board.

The Charlottesville City Attorney has confirmed that all employees of the Registrar’s office are considered city employees and should be subject to the city’s standard personnel policies. Those policies are clear. The moment the misappropriation became known by the Electoral Board, the employee should have been immediately suspended pending further internal investigation.(1)Your lack of knowledge or knowing refusal to abide by the relevant existing city policy is incomprehensible.

Your public announcement on October 17, 2014, that the Electoral Board was “taking no action” on this issue (which came to public notice no later than August 22, 2014) incredibly stands as de facto acceptance of Ms. Iachetta’s misappropriation or embezzlement of at least $7,195.86. The fact that your employee was subsequently charged in mid-September with multiple felonies for misuse of public funds and assets—again, with no Electoral Board action— makes your inertia even more appalling and disheartening.

The disturbing revelation that the Registrar repeatedly mishandled the office’s credit card accounts has similarly been ignored by this Electoral Board, even though the Board was aware of these facts no later than August 1, 2014.

Clearly your actions—either through neglect of duty or through incompetence—have had a material adverse effect on the Registrar’s office.(2)

The public’s perception of the current Registrar’s trustworthiness has been fatally undermined. With that loss, public confidence in the fairness and integrity of our voting process and results, a citizen’s most precious and cherished democratic institution, is seriously damaged if not entirely destroyed. How much time will pass before that vital trust can be restored?

While Ms. Iachetta’s actions created this problem, your actions—or failures to act—have made the problem infinitely worse. Your culpability cannot be ignored.

We have lost all confidence in your individual and collective judgment. We are particularly concerned that the Charlottesville Electoral Board bears the responsibility and has the sole authority to interview, hire and supervise the next city Registrar. Why would any member of the public trust the current Electoral Board members to get this essential duty right when you have so grievously failed to remedy the current, clear-cut situation of wrongdoing?

We will appeal to both local political party committees to take whatever appropriate legal action is needed to replace each of you.

We will appeal to the voters of Charlottesville to take whatever appropriate legal action is needed to replace each of you.

Finally, we will recommend that the Charlottesville City Council direct the City Manager to develop a memorandum of understanding with the Electoral Board that both outlines city policies that pertain to the Registrar and all employees in the Office of Voter Registration and establishes a protocol for explaining office management and supervisory duties to the members of the Electoral Board. We will also recommend that City Council direct that a full audit be performed on the Office of Voter Registration and the Electoral Board and that the audit’s findings be made available to the Electoral Board and the public.

Sincerely,

Tom Vandever
former mayor and City Council member former chair, Charlottesville Democratic Committee

Nancy O’Brien
former mayor and City Council member

John Conover
former vice-mayor and City Council member former chair, Charlottesville Democratic Committee

Jennifer Brown
former Treasurer, City of Charlottesville former chair, Charlottesville Democratic

Jennifer Brown
former Treasurer, City of Charlottesville former chair, Charlottesville Democratic Committee

Barbara Null
chair, Charlottesville Republican Committee

Pam DeGuzman
co-chair, Charlottesville Democratic Committee

Erin Monaghan
co-chair, Charlottesville Democratic Committee

cc:

Charlottesville City Council
City Manager, Maurice Jones
Edgardo Cortés, Commissioner, Virginia Department of Elections
Charlie Judd, Chairman, State Board of Elections
Office of Voter Registration, City of Charlottesville
Charlottesville Democratic Committee
Charlottesville Republican Committee

Footnotes:

1 This policy is in no way related to, or subservient to, any possibility of criminal charges. Even if there were no potential for court action, it is the responsibility of any supervisory person or body to enforce personnel rules.

2 Section 24.2-233 of the Code of Virginia provides for the removal of certain appointed officers “for neglect of duty, misuse of office, or incompetence in the performance of duties when that neglect of duty, misuse of office, or incompetence in the performance of duties has a material adverse effect on the conduct of the office.” Section 24.2- 234 specifically applies these criteria to Electoral Board members.

2 COMMENTS

  1. Rob, you broke important information in this scandal and have been talking about it from the beginning. Charlottesville owes you a debt of gratitude. I am also proud of the Jefferson Area Tea Party for taking the lead as the lone local organization to speak out against the unacceptable response of Ms. Iachetta and the Electoral Board to this debacle. Perhaps it is coincidence that this letter from local GOP and Democrat leaders is issued hot on the heels of the JATP statement. Still, it is satisfying to watch leadership by the JATP ahead of the curve and perhaps prompt others, however late, to do the right thing. The fact that this letter is largely signed by prominent City Democrats – yet is still bipartisan with the addition of Ms. Null – is damning indeed. The JATP called out the Electoral Board in its statement and I would encourage them to join with the signatories of this letter to have the entire sitting Electoral Board replaced immediately following the election.

  2. Can someone tell me that this is NOT pride being permitted to exceed beyond practical and managable sense? Most doubtful, I sorely believe nobody (if anybody) can. This day and age a rare few induividuals apparently happen to be capable to contemplate personal restraint and lead a self-reserved life. Something nobody can neither say nor educationally impart as ever being easy, because being so can only be continually strived for! It cannot be neither accomplished through time after time overextended debt-credit spending nor pervasive fraudlent corruption.

    In less than one-hundred hours and counting down, the polling places of Charlottesville will open for voting. There’s projected general discouragement among demographics towards going to vote, at-large suspicions of vote fraud, broad distaste of the picture-id requirement, a governor set to anticipate appointing his own ethics reform committee and this. I not only find myself questioning integrity here but dismally watching fellow citizens doing the same, rather than (questioning) what expectation from each candidate on the ballot for whatever office.

    History. I now am even wondering about my relative interactive history with Sheri Iachetta again from the 2011 Election. Peculiar how retrospection might appear in review. I ran for city council and my deepest basic concern (then) was the correct and timely filing of candidate campaign financial reports. There was also a democrat candidate during that time, who claimed his paperwork had failed to be properly processed through her office. I hate wondering if there was anything now to that! Oh but why should such a thing matter? That candidate wasn’t elected and worse yet he wasn’t actually a resident in the neighborhood where he claimed he was!

    My dad before he died told me one thing only anyone truly owns is their own integrity. Being an independent who now looks now through libertarian eyes, an individual accepts and maintains their right for their own existence, as long as such neither unjustly interferes or denies others of their own. I would not ask Ms. Iachetta were she able to have it to do over again, would she do anything different. That’s a clock that, unlike one for daylight savings, anyone is unliable to turn back. No, the question to ask is would Ms. Iachette step down considering her integrity and for the domestic tranquility of the rest of us?

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