Leesburg Mayor Decries ‘Politically Motivated’ Allegations

A majority of the Leesburg Town Council on Friday night rejected a request to discuss allegations against Mayor Kelly Burk in a closed-door meeting.

Late last week, council members Ron Campbell and Joshua Thiel called for a special meeting to discuss a “personnel matter,” although no additional information was released. When the meeting began Friday evening, a motion was put forward by Campbell, and seconded by Thiel, to move into closed session to discuss “the performance of a specific public official.”

In her comments before the vote, Burk made it clear that she was the public official in question. She listed off her accomplishments over her professional and political career, including serving on both the Town Council and Loudoun County Board of Supervisors. A handful of her supporters—one even wearing a “Kelly Burk for Mayor” T-shirt—sat in the audience during the meeting.

“I’ve never been the object of such political assassination until now. For two council members with less than three years [combined] experience to attack me based on rumors and innuendo … this is a politically-motivated attack by an opponent running for mayor that thinks that negative campaigning should be based on gossip,” said Burk, who was first elected to a Town Council seat in 2004.

She, along with council members Tom Dunn, Vanessa Maddox and Marty Martinez, voted against the motion to hold a closed session.

In his comments, Dunn said he felt the subject of the meeting was based purely on “hearsay” and did not merit a closed session.

“For me this is a new low in Leesburg politics,” Dunn said. “I don’t know if people have been binge watching House of Cards or CSI Leesburg, but much of this has been based on hearsay and no real proof to the issue. Frankly, I think it is more generated by politics.”

With the motion to move into closed session failing to gain majority support, the meeting adjourned.

After the meeting, Campbell—who along with Burk and Dunn is running for mayor in November’s election—approached reporters to explain why he had called for the special meeting.

He said both he and Thiel had been contacted by members of the public, whom he declined to identify, claiming they saw Burk intoxicated and barely able to walk at Tuscarora Mill Restaurant the evening of Wednesday, May 16. Campbell said, according to the witnesses, Burk left the restaurant, fell in the parking lot, and then drove away.

Campbell said he wanted to bring forward the incident in a closed session because he felt it was a public safety concern, and not for politically motivated reasons. Campbell was the first to announce his intentions to challenge Burk for the mayor’s seat.

“If something happens and this behavior continues then we have our citizens at risk and citizens who notify me, I also have a responsibility to tell somebody,” he said.

Campbell said he did not reach out directly to Burk regarding the allegations because the mayor has not spoken to him since he announced his intentions to challenge her this November.

Burk strongly denied the allegations.

“He was not even there,” she said of Campbell. “He never called me. He never talked to me. He never asked me about it. He went on gossip—and the gossip is wild out there. And it was unfair for him to do that. And it was untrue.”

Burk called it “a malicious political attack.”

“He’s angry because he has no campaign and he doesn’t know how to work with people and he can’t get things accomplished,” she said.

krodriguez@loudounnow.com

16 thoughts on “Leesburg Mayor Decries ‘Politically Motivated’ Allegations

  • 2018-06-02 at 2:18 pm
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    Anonymous witnesses’ are the absolute worst sources to base anything on. If they don’t have the stones to speak up; call the management, or LPD, then they’re the larger issue.

    The Mayor deserves full due process, even if her democrat party is trying to eliminate due process protections for Virginians.

    Councilman Dunn is correct — this is based hearsay from unidentified people. Stinks

  • 2018-06-02 at 2:50 pm
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    What a shame that Ron Campbell who comes across as the unifier and adult in the room at Town Council meetings conducted the ultimate smear campaign on the current Mayor to score political points. What makes it worse is that two members of Council followed suit without any basis of fact. What was this for? Is the hunger of town power for these rookies more important than fact? If that is the case, hold a special session and determine if they are fit to be conducting the business of the town when this baseless accusation was more about smearing a dedicated public servant who has given a good portion of her life to this town and county than presenting fact. Had there been a police report or an arrest I would say a request for special session be advised but this was not the case. How low does Ron Campbell have to go? As citizen I demand an immediate apology to not only Ms. Burk but an apology to the town from him as well for taking it into the political gutter. As for Fox and Thiel, why do you align yourself with such an insecure and hateful individual? Are you so swayed by gossip that the two of you fall for this man’s junk political style? May I go far as to demand the immediate resignation of Ron Campbell and a censure of Theil and Fox? How can we take these three seriously going forward? How can we trust their decision making process? It is disgusting what they have done here.

    As for Kelly, may you win with the grace and dignity that has helped to lead the town these past several years. May our town be saved from the likes of Ron Campbell, Thiel and Fox.

    • 2018-06-04 at 10:49 am
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      I am not sure a council meeting is the best place to discuss this event. But let’s look at some recent public incidents to consider how this should be handled.

      1. Ray Rice – without that video, if a passer-by had seen Rice clock his girlfriend, should they have spoken out? Would the police believe him?

      2. MeToo movement – should these women have spoken up against Weinstein publicly? A few speaking out can save many others from the same fate.

      I do not blame the witnesses for relaying that information at all. Consider that Burk would be “investigated” by the police force she heads (something to think about when everyone is crying for a county police force). Who will they believe? Those complaints are not even subject to FOIA.

      This could be dismissed very easily if Burk denied the charge and simply had her companions at the dinner confirm she wasn’t drinking. But she won’t. I don’t know if she was drunk or not. I am thankful nobody was hurt. Maybe if the fate of Shawn Williams has any predictive value, friends may want to take preemptive action.

      It’s interesting that Umstattd and Burk now take the Trump approach asserting “fake news”, especially when a credible alibi might be so readily available.

  • 2018-06-02 at 3:15 pm
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    I did not, and will not, vote for Kelly Burk, but Councilman Dunn is correct in stating the allegations are hearsay. What a waste of time, and presumably taxpayer money, to call for a special meeting.

  • 2018-06-03 at 8:23 am
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    I’ve lived in this county a long time. I had a business on King Street for over a decade a number of years ago. I thought I knew Leesburg well until reading this article. Apparently, you can now run for Mayor without a platform or party affiliation simply by slandering your opponent without evidence and getting it in the two local papers. An issue of “public safety” we’re told. I think this is more an issue of lack of honesty and integrity on behalf of the accuser. Let’s play nice and bring person-to-person communication skills and honesty back into play in local politics. As former Leesburg Mayor, Frank Raflo used to say: “What goes around, comes around.

  • 2018-06-03 at 10:35 pm
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    Councilman Dunn seems to be the only level headed person in the room. Let’s see if this is what I think it is as claimed by Campbell. A lady is seen to have had to much to drink and stumbles or even falls. Thiel’s and Campbell’s concerned citizens call, text or email them to report Mayors actions. Then Campbell who is a none political politician, for the good of the community to keep it quiet, calls a closed door session of the very political and public Town Council. What was he going to do if not denounce Burk, have an intervention? And then after closed session is defeated he talks to the press!

    Let’s go back to Tuskies. We have concerned citizens and two concerned councilmen. NO ONE offers or suggests: drive her home in her car, drive her home in their car, call cab or uber, wait till sober, call someone she knows to come get her, ask anyone she is with if they can drive her, stop her from driving by any means, or call the police if true safety issue. Nope no concern. We may never know what happened with Burk but we do know the kind of person Campbell is for sure and maybe Thief.

    Dunn showed the only class by calling this as it is. He could have tried to smear Burk like Campbell did. But Dunn showed that not all politics has to be dirty. He should he leading a new Council come this November.

  • 2018-06-04 at 11:06 am
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    Like another commenter, I have differences of opinion with Mayor Burk, but this is dirty politics at its worst. Maybe I’m old fashioned, but I would rather win an election in an honest race based on policies and previous experience and service to the community. Whoever started this rumor obviously did it for no good. Without proof, going public with this now shows only political motivation and a mean spirit. It’s a shame when our local political tactics are influenced by the nastiness that seems to be the norm in national elections.

  • 2018-06-04 at 5:52 pm
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    I cannot believe that someone (actually TWO someone’s) running for office in Leesburg would publically repeat unsubstantiated rumors in an effort to malign a respected public servant. Despicable conduct! They should publically apologize or withdraw from the election immediately!!

  • 2018-06-05 at 12:27 am
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    Frank what two? Campbell and Fox? I get it that Campbell and Thiel got info from politically charged friends. But what is Fox doing aligning with Campbell? She owes her Vice Mayor position to him but really he can’t be helping her on the issues of the day because he knows none of them.

  • 2018-06-05 at 6:18 pm
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    If the mayor is too drunk to walk and gets in a car and becomes a lethal weapon then, yes, it is worthy of discussion.

    I’ll give it some credence since it states there were multiple witnesses. One witness, could be anyone with an ax to grind. “Witnesses” gives me pause to think there could be something here.

  • 2018-06-06 at 8:24 am
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    Surely if anyone cared to look, there would have been video from several security cameras to support or refute this. Probably recorded over or erased by now…

  • 2018-06-06 at 4:03 pm
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    Glad they quickly dispensed with the trashing of Ms Burk so they can get back to figuring out a better way to pick up the trash from our streets,which has been real inadequate

  • 2018-06-07 at 7:08 am
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    Where is the update to show that this was a politically motivated hack-job by a man who thinks he is far superior than a woman? You also have to wonder who the other witnesses were/are? An open public session now needs to take place for full disclosure to the council and the public as to what the heck is going on? Was this driven by hate? Discrimination? Fear? Was it just a desperate play by an immature man bent of leading Leesburg but in the process out to destroy a public servant? It’s not only time for Ron Campbell to drop out of this race, but time for him to either resign our to be given a no-confidence vote and booted off from Council. He is a disgrace to this town and an individual who used terribly poor judgement.

  • 2018-06-07 at 2:38 pm
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    “Hate — Discrimination — Fear?” Just a wee bit off the rails there WhyNow. I bet Mr. Campbell does not “hate” the Mayor. How “discrimination’ fits in, only you can answer. I doubt Mr.Campbell “fears” anything.

    What Mr. Campbell needs is a campaign advisor and a couple of shots of common sense; not to be hounded out of town because he went after a political rival. He’s paid his price and he has to live with it. Let him learn from this and move forward.

    Let us not believe for a moment if the Mayor had some story (with evidence this time please) on Mr. Campbell in an awkward situation, she wouldn’t let that nuke fly? Of course she would, so let’s move along.

  • 2018-06-08 at 12:27 pm
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    Why Now,
    cant boot Campbell off. Need to do grassroots referendum RECALL. Also Burk owes Councilmen Tom Dunn a lot for backing her up. If he had not shown this to be a non partisan issue and spoken up for her where no other member of Council said a word, this could have gone very bad for Burk.

    Chris M
    Agreed. Burk like many others enjoys her drink. Mr Campbell and Theil do also. She might have had to much to drink or maybe not, we will never know. As Dunn said there was no proof. The problem was two rookie Councilmen moved forward in an official manner to take official action based on third party information with no proof. Everyone looks bad when this type of thing comes forward.

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