Pete Candland’s QBE/Corruption Conundrum

How do you think Gainesville Supervisor Pete Candland would have reacted if he had discovered that another sitting supervisor had voted multiple times in support of deals involving taxpayer funds and a privately-held for profit corporation founded and run by the chairman and chief benefactor of an organization set up to market and support that other supervisor? An organization, in fact, that included the supervisor’s father-in-law and one of his office staff? And how do you think he would have reacted to that supervisor then being hired some months later as a high-level executive of that very same for-profit corporation?

We all know the answer to those questions, don’t we? Candland would have sent the Haddow-Candland cabal smear machine into high gear on their house organ, the Sheriff of Nottingham blog, with a vitriolic assault that questioned the character, fitness for office, and maybe even the parentage of the supervisor in question.

The Muckraker recently reported on Gainesville Supervisor Pete Candland’s potential conflict of interest involving a $3 million investment in artificial turf fields. Shortly after that post we received a number of submissions regarding another apparent conflict of interest arising from Supervisor Candland’s involvement with Quality Business Engineering (QBE) and the latter’s dealings with Prince William County. It took some time to corroborate the submitted information. In doing so we discovered prior reports by an experienced blogger we respect at, so we want to give that site a shout out. Beyond what has previously been reported, we believe we have uncovered some significant additional relevant information not readily available in the past that deserves disclosure in light of recent events.

QBE Purchase of the Pace West Site

According to their web site, QBE is a privately-held management and technology consulting organization for the federal government founded in 2008 by CEO Shawn Landry. By June of 2012 the public learned the company had entered into a sales contract for the vacant building and 9 acres of property that used to be Prince William County’s Pace West Alternative School. Ultimately, according to county records, the sale was consummated on October 11, 2013.

QBE bought the property for just under $1.4 million, substantially below the assessed value of more than $5 million in 2012 when QBE made the offer, as well as below the $2.76 million assessed value in 2013, the year the sale closed. The ostensible reason for the substantially reduced sale price was that QBE was required to make the site’s fields available for public use. Such a restriction on use that runs with the land often reduces a property’s resale value and is a legitimate reason for negotiating a reduced sales price. What eventually became clear, however, is that QBE (sometimes substantively reflected in these transactions as Haymarket Properties Group, LLC) had a different understanding of that commitment than others appear to have had.

Prior to the purchase of the Pace West site, QBE leased office space on a floor above the Haymarket Town Hall, which was, according to a July 13, 2012, story in the Washington Business Journal, “a spot conducive to frequent chats between CEO Shawn Landry and local politicians.” What makes this particularly interesting is that the old school site QBE purchased was partly in the County and partly in the Town of Haymarket. QBE decided they wanted the entire property within the boundaries of the Town of Haymarket for ease of land-use decision-making, and so while a contract-purchaser they sought a boundary adjustment between the County and the Town of Haymarket. The resulting discussions among QBE, the Town of Haymarket, and the County, appear to have resulted in agreements that did not require that the fields be available for public use indefinitely, contrary to what appears at an earlier stage to have been the understanding of a variety of parties, including Town of Haymarket officials who proposed modifications to a proffer statement submitted by QBE. Instead, it appears that QBE secured the ability to sell the property at a later date without requiring that public use of the fields be preserved.

In other words, it appears QBE purchased the property at a reduced price because of restrictions people understood it was willing to accept that were then not included in the final disposition of the property, and that thus do not reduce the resale value of the property for QBE.

The Fields Lease Between QBE and Prince William County

As part of the boundary adjustment and sale, QBE negotiated (in August of 2013 and prior to the consummation of the sale) a 10-year lease agreement with the Prince William County Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR) for use of the fields. DPR is responsible for all maintenance, liability and improvements, and at the end of 10 years (absent extension) has to return the property to QBE, including removing any improvements should QBE so desire. Furthermore, if for a period of one year no partner is willing to enter into a “commercially reasonable form of lease agreement,” QBE is entitled to develop a plan for use that is consistent with the by-right zoning. The annual lease the county pays QBE for use of the fields is equivalent to the county property tax on that part of the property.

At the time of the sale there was some grumbling about how favorable the deal was to QBE. That’s not unusual in a public-private partnership arrangement, since there has to be some strong incentive to entice private participation. What agitated people in this particular case was that it appeared QBE had started the transaction with a sale price substantially below market value by agreeing in principle to long-term restrictions on the use of the property, restrictions which they then allegedly maneuvered to have removed during the complicated tripartite discussions about boundary adjustments. This successful maneuver made the property far more valuable than what QBE had paid for it. That is troubling in itself, but things soon got even more interesting.

QBE Hires Gainesville Supervisor Pete Candland

As mentioned earlier, the sale was consummated on October 11, 2013. Less than 5 months later, on March 10, 2014, QBE CEO Shawn Landry announced that Gainesville Supervisor Pete Candland had been hired as QBE’s new Executive Vice President. As a supervisor, Candland had voted on transactions involving QBE, and now, if his salary, bonuses, or benefits are tied in any way to the company’s performance, he stands to benefit from the sale and lease deals negotiated with the county and on which he voted.

When this issue was briefly raised in the past, Candland defenders promptly replied that Candland was not employed by QBE at the time of the sale/lease negotiations and thus could not reasonably be thought of as having colluded with Landry prior to that point. But is that true?

Thus far we have not been able to uncover any disclosure by Candland about a prior relationship with Shawn Landry when he was voting on the issues involving QBE. Yet we have uncovered information showing that a meaningful prior relationship did, in fact, exist.

The Rise Up Prince William Connection

As some might recall, in July of 2013 (before the boundary adjustment, lease agreement, or consummation of the sale to QBE), Pete Candland publicized a cross-county walk he was doing to raise money for an organization called Rise Up Prince William. Despite publicity in the newspapers and social media there was confusion among potential participants because there was no mechanism for signing up for the walk. Calls to local charities marketed as beneficiaries of the walk revealed that they didn’t know anything about it. They had simply been told they were going to get some donations from the event. Web searches turned up sites with Rise Up Prince William logos accompanied by Candland for Supervisor signs and language explaining that contributions for Supervisor Candland’s campaign fund would be accepted outside event locations. To many people it became clear that the walk, if not Rise Up Prince William itself, was a primarily a campaign/publicity vehicle for Candland.

On the day of the event, InsideNova reported that Candland was accompanied by a support vehicle, consisting of a “black platinum F-450 pick-up truck,” which it turned out was driven by none other than QBE founder and CEO, Shawn Landry. According to the press report, Landry was the president of Rise Up Prince William, described as a newly created nonprofit Landry “and some of Candland’s other constituents formed to support Candland’s ongoing community service efforts.”

Candland claimed to have raised more than $10,000 as a result of the walk, with most of it coming from an anonymous donor. A former Republican supervisor promptly revealed that the bulk of the money raised came from – QBE’s Shawn Landry. Indeed, when the Muckraker reviewed the 2013 records for Rise Up Prince William we found that an anonymous donation of $10,000 had been received with an office address that matched that of QBE.

And who were the Candland “constituents” that formed Rise Up Prince William to support Candland’s ongoing community service efforts? Well, according to state records the organization had only three voting members. They were:

(1) a chairman, QBE CEO Shawn Landry,

(2) the ubiquitous Candland staffer Mac Haddow, and

(3) a secretary/treasurer named Dennis Peterson, who is not a Prince William County “constituent” at all, but instead is a man who lives in Pennsylvania and turns out to be Pete Candland’s father-in-law.

The “constituents” of whom Shawn Landry thus spoke were none other than Mr. Landry himself (Pete Candland’s future employer) and Mac Haddow (Candland’s mentor, office staffer, and chair of his Gainesville budget committee).

The Nub

Shortly after he took office in 2012, Gainesville Supervisor Pete Candland began his political career in Prince William with venomous attacks on fellow supervisors. Using their house organ, the Sheriff of Nottingham blog, the Mac Haddow-Pete Candland cabal launched a blistering series of vitriolic assaults, employing their usual brew of half-truths, innuendo, and outright fabrication to question the integrity of fellow supervisors, including for failing to disclose their relatives’ volunteer work for organizations the county helped fund. The self-proclaimed apostle of transparency, Candland declared authoritatively from Mt. Sinai (on his own blog in fact) how all should err on the side of disclosure not just with actual, but with apparent potential conflicts of interest, so that the public could judge for themselves whether anything inappropriate was occurring. Those that did not do so were doomed to suffer all the tortures that could be devised by the Haddow-Candland cabal.

Yet how did these Candland commandments apply to Candland himself? What disclosures did Gainesville Supervisor Pete Candland make while he voted multiple times on deals that benefited QBE, a firm founded and led by the chairman and chief benefactor of another organization that was publicly marketing and promoting Supervisor Candland? An organization that QBE CEO Shawn Landry ran with Candland’s father-in-law under the watchful eye of Candland staffer and Gainesville Budget Committee Chair, Mac Haddow. Deals benefiting a company that then hired Candland as Executive Vice President a mere five months after securing his votes on important transactions with the County Board of Supervisors. Deals that potentially benefit Pete Candland’s QBE compensation package even today.

As we suggested at the beginning of this post, ask yourself again how Pete Candland would have reacted to another supervisor doing this. And now with the relevant information disclosed, ask yourself what was going on here. We think you know the answer to both questions.


22 comments on “Pete Candland’s QBE/Corruption Conundrum

  1. -

    Prime Rib Pete Candland says it’s okay to eat tax-payer funded prime rib as long as it’s a “tradition” (not sure if you have seen his newest 8 page manifesto to school chairman Sawyer). Maybe he’s just just starting a new tradition in selling his future employers public property at a discount.

  2. -

    I am shocked. I am shocked because Candland is so aggressive and self righteous about following the rules and about perception. Well my perception now is that he is dirty to the bone. It looks like he has stepped right in the middle of it. Shame on him.

  3. -

    Well Candland and QBE will get theirs now because when I google QBE and Pete Candland all that comes up is the information about the corruption. QBE may have gotten a deal on that property but they will pay dearly for hiring that slime and all the negative press that he and Haddow bring to the table.

  4. -

    Do you mean to tell me that Candland voted as a supervisor on things that financially benefit the guy who runs his nonprofit? That’s huge! It’s not just unethical, it may actually be illegal. If someone can show that Candland profited from the activities of the nonprofit Landry runs Candland could have legal troubles.

  5. -

    It is unethical, but you’re not going to find enough evidence of direct financial benefit to convict Pete of any crime. Mac Haddow is too smart for that now after going to jail for it once. It is amazing, though, how this thing mimics some of Haddow’s past illegal activities and he has his fingers all over this. One thing you missed in is that an article you referenced on Rise Up Prince William quotes Reece Collins (Rich and Ruth Anderson’s campaign manager and campaign consultant) who was Candland’s communications director at the time. The whole Haddow gang is there.

  6. -

    @ Masters
    If it’s corruption in Prince William County government you’re likely going to find a link to Haddow and Candland. If it’s not one of them it will be a member of their group, either Jeanine Lawson, Ruth Anderson, Reece Collins, Rich Anderson or one of their lower level operatives. It’s one incestuous group.

  7. -

    Where is the press? All of those PWC hate sites tied to Candland and Haddow posted information alleging fraud and abuse by Candland’s colleagues on the board and that the FBI was investigating them (BVBL comes to mind) which turned out to be a witch hunt by their associates. This should be sent to a Wash Post investigator, FBI, Inside Nova,etc. Bristow Beat and Jill Palermo probably won’t publish anything derogatory towards Candland or Lawson because Haddow has already cut a deal with those individuals to give exclusive rights to firsthand information coming out of the Gainesville District office. Same with the Gainesville Times they are in bed with the PWC Rep Committee. So much for fair and impartial reporting.

    The former Pace West school also houses one of Candland’s donors who uses the space to conduct his banjo instruction classes from what other occupants of the space have told folks.The building is also frequently
    the site used for Republican campaign offices.

    OBE Shawn Landry is very smart. He has a employee by the name of Candland who greased the wheels for him to purchase Pace West. By hiring Candland Landry is protected from any “undesirable” land use decisions coming down the pike. Landry cut a great deal with Candland’s input and support for a great business purchase and is now leasing out as much space as possible within the school to include a religious based school, donor of Candland,etc, and gets the tax benefit as well. The property then benefits Candland by making him look as the political kingpin on the western end because he is able to cut deals for his party as far as campaign space from what one of his constituents is saying.The school is also used as a precinct.

    I am sure this is just the tip of the iceberg of what is going on with Pace West. Haddow operates by trying to control the communication flow and by bullying those who dare to challenge him.

  8. -

    Oh go ahead and ask since you are uncovering rocks, if anyone works in Candland’s office who doesn’t share his religious faith.

  9. -

    PWC is a cesspool of political corruption, Gainesville Supervisor is the chief contributor to the cesspool. Where is is the FBI, where is the press on this? Haddow went to prison for stealing taxpayer funds, why not Candland?

  10. -

    Didn’t a former member of the Virginia House of Delegates go to jail for getting an appropriation for Old Dominion University and subsequently taking a job with the program he had helped fund?

  11. -

    It appears Candland/Landry are teaming up on a ice cream parlor on that property. How would you feel if you are Pickle Bob’s or any other business in Haymarket that sells desserts? Now you have to compete against a business who gets their land subsidized by the county government after they already received a discounted rate on the purchase price from the same county government.

    Just to make sure we’re all straight here.
    1) Pete gets elected
    2) Pete votes for Landry to get a sweetheart deal on a piece of property owned by the government
    3) Candland takes job with Landry
    4) Landry and friends start a non-profit to support Pete and are the ONLY donor for Pete’s walk across PWC where nobody else is even allowed to walk with Pete.
    5) Pete gets the county to pay for the baseball fields on the land
    6) Baseball fields get used ONLY by the baseball group that Pete is a member of and no other baseball or softball group uses them
    7) They then bring a ice cream business onto the property which is subsidized, in part, by a vote from Pete Candland giving his frozen desserts an advantage over other hard-working business owners who have to pay taxes on their property and didn’t get them at a discounted rate from the government.

    Does that sound about right? Just trying to summarize here and wrap my head around this.

  12. -

    It sounds like a recall of Candland may be in order. Candland appears to be one of the biggest hypocrites in PWC. Candland may be scheming about how much more he could line his pockets, at taxpayers expense, IF PWC voters are stupid enough to elect him as PWC’s next Chairman At-Large.

  13. -

    To me the only thing shocking about all this is how long it’s taken to come out. This deal smelled bad from the very beginning. Why hasn’t the Commonwealth’s Attorney looked into this matter? The level of hypocrisy and corruption in the Candland/Haddow office is beyond the pale. Thank you, Muckraker, for finally bringing a thorough explanation of this issue to light.

  14. -

    Candland’s actions display two major Republican principles :

    Do as I say, not as I do.

    Look at the shiny object while I proceed to do exactly the illegal, immoral thing I’m harping against.

  15. -

    As a civics teacher, I am appalled by this story and corruption. How can we expect our student to emulate trustworthiness and honesty when one of the GOP shining stars is making sweat heart deals for his business buddies?

    Where is JIll Palermo or Tracy Conroy when you need them?

  16. -

    I m sending this blog to the Manassas FBI office

  17. -

    Politicians making deals to better themselves and thei friends? Even while saying they are more honest than the next guy? Well…I’ve never heard of such a thing!

    Maybe we should hook all of them up to a lie detector and ask one simple question. “Have you ever cast a vote with the direct intention of gaining future employment or significant profit that wasn’t previously disclosed?”

  18. -

    Thanks for this blog. Knowing who is behind it here makes everything you publish credible.

    Candland, Landry, and the whole crew needs to be investigated. Why should we trust Candland with our tax dollars if we know he is capable of such apparent corruption? He should resign quickly to avoid damaging our Community’s reputation any further.

    I await the anonymous Sheriff to respond, but why would I believe anyone who doesn’t own their work?

    Keep it up.

  19. -

    By virtue of the benefits Pete Candland was receiving through Rise Up Prince William, his actions in favor of Landry seem to be a violation of the Virginia State and Local Government Conflict of Interests Act, specifically, section 2.2-3103 on Prohibited Conduct, which supersedes any county code requirements regarding disclosure.

  20. -

    There’s even more to this than what you’ve reported. QBE’s building on the old Pace West school site also houses the offices of Rise Up Prince William, Republican campaigns, and space for Bruce Gair, who has contributed almost $2,500 to “Candland for Prince William County Board of Supervisors.” This thing stinks to high heaven.

  21. -

    AND…Pete has now proposed that the library system be privatized AFTER he talked to the only company in the nation that does this. Something smells.

  22. -

    Who is running and/ornowns this ice cream shop? Candland’s wife.

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