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Culpeper board files complaint against prosecutor

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story misidentified the organization with which the complaint was filed.

Culpeper County supervisors voted Tuesday to file a complaint with the Virginia State Bar against Commonwealth’s Attorney Megan Frederick over an email in which she called a majority of them corrupt. 

The motion, which carried 5-2, also directs County Attorney Sandra Robinson to send Frederick a letter asking that she retract her statement within five days.

“I’ve been called all kinds of things—incompetent, stupid, conservative—and I don’t mind,” said Supervisor Steve Walker. “Being called corrupt does bother me.”

“The word corrupt really bothers me,” said Supervisor Bill Chase, who made the motion to file the state complaint. “I feel that no one [on this board] is corrupt and if [Frederick] has proof they were she should file charges.”

Frederick’s email, sent to about a dozen people on Sept. 12, was intended as an endorsement for supervisors Bradley Rosenberger and Larry Aylor, both of whom are facing strong opposition in next month’s election.

At one point in the email, Frederick complains about two board decisions, one to deny her money for a private investigator and another to fund a new $1.5 million office building for the Sheriff’s Office. She explains that both Rosenberger and Aylor opposed the second measure.

“They lost this battle, due to incompetent and corrupt members of the board,” the email states. She adds that, “Many members of the Board of Supervisors have tried to bully me with their rude behaviors and unjust voting.”

Frederick did not stop there.

“There are many, many details I could give about the poor behavior and ignorance I have witnessed from certain elected officials in Culpeper, but to be frank, those people bore me now,” she wrote.

“It is not good for this community to have such things said,” said Supervisor Steve Nixon. “It is unethical [for a public official] to make this kind of a statement.”

Aylor spoke in Frederick’s defense.

“I looked up the word corrupt and it has a lot of meanings,” he said. “One meaning could be ‘favoritism.’

“I like the idea of calling her in and have a one-on-one before we start passing judgment. I think we should come up with something that shows everybody in the best light, try to mend fences.”

Chairman Sue Hansohn did not seem in a fence-mending mood.

“I think this is very serious and I take it personally,” she said. “Those remarks are very disturbing, especially to be accused by the commonwealth attorney.”

Frederick was not conciliatory either.

“They have in one meeting served to confirm the voracity and accuracy of my email,” she said in a telephone interview following the supervisors’ vote. “This is just another attempt to intimidate anyone willing to point out their deficiencies.”

Rosenberger called the situation “a sad state of affairs” and added, “I feel bad for the Board of Supervisors.” He also favored having Frederick come before the board to explain her remarks.

It was Supervisor Alexa Fritz who asked that a letter be sent asking for a retraction within five days. It was made clear, however, that the complaint will be filed with the state bar association even if Frederick apologizes.

In his defense of Frederick, Aylor said that her email, which quickly went viral, was sent as a private correspondence.

“Emails are public information,” replied Chase.

Donnie Johnston:

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