Another Group Aims at Northern Virginia Commonwealth’s Attorneys for Recall

 

Another group is targeting Northern Virginia Commonwealth’s attorneys Buta Biberaj, from Loudoun, and Steve Descano, from Fairfax. This week, Virginians for Safe Communities (VSC) announced recall efforts against Biberaj and Descano, already the targets of a separate organization Stand Up Virginia (SUV). VSC is also targeting Commonwealth’s Attorney Parisa Dehghani-Tafti, from Arlington and Falls Church.

“Northern Virginia deserves honest, hard-working, and effective Commonwealth’s Attorneys who seek accountability for criminals, protect our communities, and uphold the law without reservation or ideological blinders,” VSC President Sean Kennedy said in a press release.

Biberaj, Descano, and Dehghani-Tafti are part of a wave of progressive prosecutors who say traditional prosecutorial philosophies are inequitable and prevent real solutions to crime. The Virginia Progressive Prosecutors for Justice have argued for changes in policies to give prosecutors more flexibility.

“To better serve our victims, we needed to and have reallocated resources towards the more significant matters that cause greater harm to our community and away from the non-violent, lower offense cases. We have worked with our community stakeholders and successfully reduced the number of persons incarcerated from 450 on average to 250. We continue to seek and find ways to keep our community safe whilst dedicating our resourcing most efficiently,” Biberaj told The Virginia Star.

Conservatives say that progressive prosecutors are more worried about protecting criminals than victims, and say that by ignoring sections of law, prosecutors are taking the role of legislators.

Our petitions and subsequent legal briefs will make the clear and convincing case that Steve Descano, Buta Biberaj, and Parisa Dehghani-Tafti have each exceeded their delegated powers under the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Virginia. Their radical policies have proven not only unlawful but dangerous including eliminating cash bail by fiat, unilaterally nullifying narcotics laws, and failing to prosecute serious crimes,” a VSC spokesperson said.

In April, SUV announced that it was collecting signatures to begin a recall of Descano. In July, SUV announced that it is also targeting Biberaj. CSV didn’t say why it was announcing separate efforts to collect the thousands of signatures needed as the first step in the recall process.

Several of Virginia’s progressive prosecutors have been extensively funded by progressive PACs with links to donors like George Soros, Cari Tuna, and Dustin Moskovitz.

VSC is a 501(c)4 “social welfare organization,” according to its press release, and it announced its formation this week. Kennedy is a Republican operative who also works for the Law Enforcement Defense Fund, according to The New York Times, which reported that VSC isn’t disclosing its donors, but has already raised more than $250,000. Another VSC member is Ian Prior, a former Trump Department of Justice official, who is separately leading recall efforts against Loudoun County School Board members.

“[VSC] will deploy significant resources to inform Virginians of the dangerous and unconstitutional actions taken by these elected prosecutors, circulate a removal petition with voters demanding that the Commonwealth’s Attorney face a trial, and – upon an affirmative finding of guilt – be removed from office. Once their offices are vacated, a special election will be called to replace them,” the release states.

Recall efforts face a high bar in Virginia. Recall petitions must be signed by registered voters from the region that originally elected the official. Petitions need signatures amounting to at least ten percent of the amount of votes cast in the election. Then, a judge reviews the petition before deciding if the recall can go forward.

Biberaj has faced blistering criticism from the Loudoun Board of Supervisors; in March Chair Phyllis Randall said they were hearing complaints from victims. But when SUV announced its recall against Biberaj, Randall said Biberaj had made improvements.

The people of our community would be shocked that these prosecutors aren’t pursuing crimes like animal cruelty, domestic assault, reckless driving, and indecent exposure. Homicides have doubled under Steve Descano, aggravated assaults have spiked more than 40 percent under Dehghani-Tafti, and rising domestic violence goes unprosecuted in Loudoun under Buta Biberaj,” a VSC spokesperson said.

“Today, our office is more diverse (in practices, experiences and demographics) than ever; we have built a victim centric policy and practice (we have doubled the resources dedicated to our sexual assault and domestic violence unit); we have reallocated the victim witness case manager services directed at victims of sexual assault and domestic violence; and, we have reduced the rate of incarceration for persons who do not present a safety risk to our community – providing millions of dollars in savings to our county,” Biberaj said.

“The residents of Northern Virginia are increasingly worried about crime and want their homes, schools, and communities to be kept safe. These three Commonwealth’s Attorneys prefer to spend their time writing op-eds in national publications, signing legal briefs and public letters on matters outside of their jurisdiction, doing interviews with partisan outlets, hosting podcasts, and tweeting,” the VSC spokesperson said.

Biberaj said the recalls were a surprise, not fact-based, and lacked transparency.

Biberaj said, “This should be a concern for our community because it appears to be another attempt to suppress the voting process by trying to negate the elections in 2019. As for these outside groups, the question is ‘what is your true agenda? Why do you have so many ‘entities’ opened up and located in areas NOT in Loudoun?'”

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Eric Burk is a reporter at The Virginia Star and the Star News Network. Email tips to [email protected]

 

 

 

 

 

 

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