With Manassas City Schools Superintendent Catherine Magouyrk joining the legion of public officials who misuse taxpayer resources to promote a political agenda, it’s time to bring the hammer down on these public officials who feel entitled to use our taxpayer dollars to badger other governmental bodies. Magouyrk is hardly the first to engage in this stunningly unethical behavior but it serves as a perfect example of the kind of corrupt behavior that the General Assembly needs to put an immediate stop to.
Yesterday Magouyrk diverted taxpayer owned resources to use the “robocall” system that the city uses to inform parents about school closures and other happenings to slam out a message urging parents to demand the city council enact a 10% tax hike in Manassas that would be used, in part, to build new offices for Magouyrk and her staff. Although I don’t know the details of how the robocall system operates, it’s pretty reasonable to expect that whoever the service provider is charges the schools on a per-call basis and will bill the school system for the call. That’s money the taxpayers provided to the school system to educate their children (a job that the Manassas City Schools hasn’t done that great at lately) that was instead used to promote a policy outcome that arguably would harm constituents. Magouyrk should be criminally charged for embezzlement and required to reimburse the city for her misappropriation of taxpayer resources.
Of course that won’t happen, because high-level public officials don’t ever get charged for malfeasance in office with Paul Ebert as Commonwealth’s Attorney around here.
As I said, this sort of thing isn’t unusual in any way. School officials in Prince William County have been using taxpayer resources to promote their political agendas for years, and the School Board has a policy that effectively prevents disclosure through FOIA requests that would uncover this malfeasance as well as charging utterly ridiculous administrative fees in an attempt to prevent FOIA requests from being filed in the first place. County and City governments spend taxpayer dollars lobbying in Richmond and Washington opposing things like eminent domain reform, usually in opposition to the views of their constituents. Amazingly, the multiple lobbying efforts by groups that counties and cities are members of like VACO, MWCOG, VML and others work against each other, with one group using your taxpayer dollars to argue one side of the issue and another group using more taxpayer dollars to argue the opposite side.
Public officials have no business using taxpayer dollars to lobby the public or other governmental entities. Elected officials already have very effective lines of communication to their constituents and to other elected officials representing the area in various legislative bodies at the state and federal levels. Mayor Parrish hasn’t any problem getting in touch with Delegate Jackson Miller, Senator Chuck Colgan, Representative Frank Wolf or Senators Warner or Kaine. Heck, they regularly dine with these folks at taxpayer expense. Dumping taxpayer dollars into lobbying efforts is simply a way for these elected officials to reward their favorite campaign staff who often become lobbyists either full time after a campaign concludes, or part-time when they aren’t campaigning.
The General Assembly can put a stop to this by specifically making it a crime for a public official to use taxpayer funds to support or oppose any issue that will come before a legislative body for a vote, or to provide any third party with taxpayer dollars to do that on their behalf. Our taxpayer dollars should be used to provide core government services to the people, not fund the political agendas that public officials could be paying for with their own money or campaign funds.
Make sure you ask candidates running for office this year whether they’d support such a bill. One hundred members of the House of Delegates are up for election this year along with Governor, Lieutenant Governor and Attorney General, and all of them are interested in talking to you.
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