Va. Sher­iffs’ As­so­ci­a­tion chief claims re­tal­i­a­tion by gover­nor

He says McAuliffe can­celed meet­ing over po­lit­i­cal feud

Richmond Times-Dispatch Weekend - - Metro - BY GRA­HAM MOOMAW Rich­mond Times-Dis­patch

The di­rec­tor of the Vir­ginia Sher­iffs’ As­so­ci­a­tion has ac­cused Gov. Terry McAuliffe of can­cel­ing a bud­get meet­ing in re­tal­i­a­tion against sher­iffs who have en­dorsed Repub­li­can Ed Gille­spie for gover­nor.

John W. Jones, the VSA’s ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor, sent an email to his mem­bers Fri­day warn­ing of a “sig­nif­i­cant de­vel­op­ment” in the or­ga­ni­za­tion’s ef­forts to ad­vo­cate on pay is­sues for deputy sher­iffs. Jones said the an­nual meet­ing with McAuliffe, a Demo­crat, was sup­posed to take place Thurs­day.

“The gover­nor can­celed the meet­ing be­cause a ma­jor­ity of sher­iffs have en­dorsed Ed Gil­lispie (sic) for gover­nor,” Jones wrote. “The VSA does not en­dorse any can­di­dates for elected of­fice.”

With polls show­ing a close race be­tween Gille­spie and Demo­cratic Lt. Gov. Ralph S. Northam, who is run­ning largely on McAuliffe’s legacy, the dust-up with the VSA is a sign McAuliffe may be frus­trated by per­ceived al­lies throw­ing their sup­port to Gille­spie.

On Thurs­day morn­ing, the Gille­spie cam­paign A mem­ber of the Air Elite Dunkers (above) warmed up be­fore the Wash­ing­ton Wizards’ open prac­tice at Vir­ginia Com­mon­wealth Univer­sity’s Siegel Cen­ter.

Wizards star John Wall (left) signed au­to­graphs for fans on Fri­day af­ter the prac­tice, part of the NBA team’s train­ing camp.

an­nounced that Mid­dle­sex County Sher­iff David Bushey had switched his en­dorse­ment from Northam to Gille­spie.

McAuliffe’s of­fice did not dis­pute Jones’ claim that the meet­ing was can­celed due to po­lit­i­cal feud­ing, but said the gover­nor has worked to give pay raises to sher­iffs and state po­lice and has in­vited the VSA to sub­mit bud­get pro­pos­als with­out a face-to­face meet­ing.

“The gover­nor is a huge sup­porter of Vir­ginia law en­force­ment,” spokesman Brian Coy said. “His record re­flects that.”

The Gille­spie cam­paign said it has en­dorse­ments from 64 of the roughly 120 sher­iffs in Vir­ginia. Many sher­iffs are elected as in­de­pen­dents, but the group tends to lean Repub­li­can over­all.

In his email, Jones said the scrapped meet­ing will put sher­iffs at “a tremen­dous dis­ad­van­tage” in the 2018 Gen­eral As­sem­bly ses­sion.

“As a re­sult of this un­for­tu­nate de­vel­op­ment, it is now more im­por­tant than ever that sher­iffs and deputy sher­iffs con­tact their leg­is­la­tors for sup­port to in­crease salaries of our deputy sher­iffs,” Jones wrote.

The Gille­spie cam­paign re­sponded to the VSA let­ter with a news re­lease in which sev­eral Gille­spie-sup­port­ing sher­iffs crit­i­cized the gover­nor.

“With an in­crease in gang vi­o­lence and an opi­oid epi­demic sweep­ing the com­mon­wealth, this is no time for pet­ti­ness,” Gille­spie said in a state­ment.

JAMES H. WAL­LACE/TIMES-DIS­PATCH

Play­ers, per­form­ers put on a show dur­ing only open prac­tice.

McAuliffe

DANIEL SANGJIB MIN/TIMES-DIS­PATCH

A North­ern Vir­ginia busi­ness group is back­ing Ed Gille­spie.

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