Candland, Corruption and Constant Contact

We earlier reported on two elements of Gainesville Supervisor Pete Candland’s meltdown at the June 21, 2016, Board of Supervisors meeting. In the first, we recounted Potomac Supervisor Maureen Caddigan’s calm courage in calling out Candland’s FOIA hypocrisy, its cost to taxpayers, and the involvement of Mac Haddow. With the second we chronicled Chairman Corey Stewart’s defense of the taxpayer in shepherding through a policy change that treats supervisors like everyone else when it comes to paying for FOIA requests, so that the costs of abuses like those of Pete Candland are not borne by the taxpayer.

One of the most bizarre aspects of Candland’s meltdown, however, occurred when he shrilly castigated Woodbridge Supervisor Frank Principi for violating the BOCS rules of procedure. He claimed that Principi had used in his office businesses that he had also used during his campaign, something that is apparently against the BOCS rules. We expected a bombshell.

What we got was . . . . .

Constant Contact and MDA Technologies

That’s right, the big smoking gun that Candland claimed to have discovered after costing the taxpayers thousands, perhaps tens of thousands of dollars, in FOIA requests was that Woodbridge Supervisor Frank Principi had used Constant Contact for email blasts and local business MDA Technologies for web hosting.

So here we have Gainesville Supervisor Pete Candland, who we have learned over the past several months generously reimburses himself (and generously tips) for routine lunches at taxpayer expense. Who we have learned voted on issues that directly and financially benefited a company owned and run by a person who was also running a nonprofit devoted to supporting Candland’s efforts and whose other board members were Mac Haddow and Pete Candland’s father-in-law. Who we have learned less than five months after the latest transaction on which he voted, landed a lucrative job as that same company’s Executive Vice President. Who we have learned has also opened up an ice cream business on the property of that same company whose transactions he voted on as supervisor. Who we learned refused to meet with someone offering to make a $3 million contribution to refurbish several county athletic fields because the person was affiliated with a sports league rival of the league to which Candland belonged. Who we learned first publicly promised Chairman Stewart that no vote would be taken in his absence on an important land use issue, and then, while the Chairman was away, used his power as Vice-Chair to call a vote. Who we have learned is under the tutelage of Mac Haddow (see here, see here, see here, see here, see here, see here, see here), going so far as to formally describe Haddow’s role in Candland’s office as “Whatever he wants to do.”

After all this, Gainesville Supervisor Pete Candland’s stinging critique of Woodbridge Supervisor Frank Principi is that Principi used Constant Contact and MDA Technologies for email blasts and web hosting. Seriously?

For a while we couldn’t figure this out. We understood that Candland was smarting from being called on the carpet by fellow supervisors for wasting taxpayer money with petulant FOIA requests. We understood that he felt the need to justify the thousands, perhaps tens of thousands, of taxpayer dollars he had wasted with those same FOIA requests. But really, Constant Contact and MDA Technologies – basically non-partisan, commercial, off-the-shelf email and web hosting services?

Eventually, contacts in the county government gave us their take on this. What was apparently motivating Candland’s pettiness was the Muckraker’s earlier post on his attempt to use the Strategic Campaign Group at taxpayer expense, and the BOCS’s objection early in Candland’s tenure to Candland retaining an active partisan political consultant as a part-time member of his taxpayer-compensated office staff.

For those of our readers who may not recall, back on May 7 and May 8, we reported that Supervisor Candland had tried to hire a hyper-partisan political organization, the Strategic Campaign Group, with county funds. It was a quintessential Candland move. After years of using the non-partisan Tele-Town Hall, LLC, Candland tried to retain the Strategic Campaign Group for the services previously provided by Tele-Town Hall, LLC, even going so far as to submit a bid sheet that did not include a quote from the Strategic Campaign Group, and then later approving an invoice directly from the Strategic Campaign Group for the same dollar amount as the Tele-Town Hall, LLC price.

As Candland himself later admitted, the Strategic Campaign Group was an authorized re-seller of Tele-Town Hall, LLC’s services, and although he had tried to contract with the Strategic Campaign Group, county staff blocked him, and the check was actually cut directly to Tele-Town Hall, LLC. Candland, in short, had attempted to make sure that the hyper-partisan Strategic Campaign Group got a cut of taxpayer funds that would normally have all gone to the actual service provider, the non-partisan Tele-Town Hall, LLC. Thankfully, county staff stopped the charade, once again earning them Candland’s enmity.

It’s worth noting that we don’t call the Strategic Campaign Group hyper-partisan without evidence. They boast about it on their web page. According to the Virginia Public Access Project, they have been paid more than ½ million dollars from Virginia Republican elected officials and candidates. Even more interesting is that they were sued by Republican Ken Cuccinelli for their unethical practices. According to Cuccinelli’s suit, Strategic Campaign Group was one of three groups and four people (including a Strategic Campaign Group executive) that Cuccinelli alleged raised approximately $2.2 million using his name, picture and likeness as “cover” to “prey on unsuspecting small donors across the country.” Cuccinelli’s suit says the defendants “admitted they did not use the money raised invoking Ken Cuccinelli to actually aid the Cuccinelli campaign, either through direct contributions to the campaign or through independent expenditures in support of the campaign, other than a single $10,000 contribution . . . .” They allegedly kept and did not spend much of the money on other candidates either, and the little bit they spent was for a Republican who faced another Republican. Cuccinelli’s suit calls the whole scenario a “malicious scam PAC” that was not “a means to the legitimate end of supporting the Cuccinelli campaign, but rather was an illegitimate end in itself . . . .”

This is the group toward whom Gainesville Supervisor Pete Candland was trying to direct county taxpayer funds. Still smarting from being exposed, he thus attacked Woodbridge Supervisor Frank Principi for using . . . Constant Contact and MDA technologies. Below are screenshots of the home pages of each of these three organizations. You be the judge of where the unethical behavior lies.




Candland’s petty vindictiveness on this issue was not a surprise.  In fact, we noted that when criticized regarding his attempt to pay the Strategic Campaign Group, Candland posted a lengthy response whose executive summary not only obfuscated the issue, but lied outright by claiming that activists had criticized him for not using the same groups as Frank Principi.  Problem was — no one anywhere had even mentioned Frank Principi. Candland, it turns out, simply made it up to justify his soon-to-come FOIA requests.

But Candland’s childish vindictiveness on this issue actually pre-dates the Muckraker’s existence and extends back to Candland’s first year in office, specifically to June of 2012. It was then that the BOCS adopted a policy that prohibited the use of county taxpayer funds to pay as office staffers people who were also political campaign consultants. In this instance, the policy directly affected Reece Collins, who was then Candland’s part-time communication’s director. You may remember him from this internal Candland office document.


Collins is a member of the Haddow-Candland cabal and widely believed to work hand-in-glove with Mac Haddow to run the cabal’s house organ smear blog, the Sheriff of Nottingham. Despised by mainstream Republicans, Collins has a reputation for specializing in unethical, false smear campaigns. He’s not only been active as a political consultant for Candland, but for Supervisors Jeanine Lawson and Ruth Anderson as well. Collins has also been the campaign manager for Delegate Rich Anderson. Anderson, as some will recall, narrowly got elected for the first time by running a series of TV ads and mailings that falsely implied that then Delegate Paul Nichols had been arrested for drunk driving. Nichols, in fact, was not only not driving, but wasn’t even in the car that police had pulled over in the incident cited in the ads and mailings.  It may have been the most unethical campaign in Prince William County in the past 20 years.

Like the Strategic Campaign Group, this was the type of person that Candland wanted to compensate with county taxpayer funds. As with his recent abuse of the FOIA process, however, his fellow supervisors, including his Republican colleagues, voted 7-1 against Candland on the issue.

Candland is still smarting. His revenge: four years later call out Frank Principi’s for his use of . . . Constant Contact and MDA Technologies.

Just the kind of maturity you want to see on the BOCS.


3 comments on “Candland, Corruption and Constant Contact

  1. -

    The expression “don’t confuse me with the facts because my mind is made up” describes these people perfectly.

  2. -

    You are seeing similar childish behavior out of Haddow/Candland lapdog Willie Deutsch on the School Board side.

    Willie regularly attacks fellow board members which just leads to more hostility on the board. Willie tells everyone that he wants to be the next Coles Supervisor by running to the right of Nohe. That explains why he keeps taking jabs at Sawyers on the dais. The weird thing is that Sawyers seems to like it.

    • -

      Willie plays to the Republican base and at the same time reaches across the partisan divide to collaborate with Justin Wilk and teachers and staff. You can disagree with him on this or that but you have to admit that he is better than the scorched earth faction of his party.

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