Wyant Accepts $10,000 from Appointee

It was one year ago that real estate attorney Duane Zobrist was appointed to the planning commission by White Hall Supervisor David Wyant. Now Zobrist has given Wyant a jaw-dropping $10,000 campaign contribution, doubling the size of Wyant’s campaign coffers. The Daily Progress is reporting that story today (though Chris Graham at the Augusta Free Press broke the story several weeks ago), raising the question of whether there’s a relationship between the nomination and the contribution. Wyant, a Republican, is facing stiff competition in the form of Democrat Ann Huckle Mallek, and $10,000 is the sort of money that will make or break a candidate for BoS.

The central issue in the race is development — Wyant favors increased development in Crozet, while Mallek wants to limit growth. Though Zobrist’s line of work has presumably spurred his generosity, the appearance of impropriety is hard to ignore.

27 thoughts on “Wyant Accepts $10,000 from Appointee”

  1. I leave it up to others to decide if there is any impropriety, but you’re correct that Wyant faces stiff competition. Wyant came to office after sending out a campaign mailer telling folks in Crozet that the Master Plan, you know the one based on 12,000 population, was too large and would increase taxes and cause sprawl. He no sooner got into office when Old Trail came up and he voted for the rezoning despite the fact the room was full of Crozetians telling him he was making a mistake. About the only due diligence he did was to turn to the planning staff and ask if they were correct in their calculation of the rezoning number. He now says the staff made a mistake. NO, a mistake is when you cut a piece of wall paneling and when you put it on the wall your off by an 1/8 of an inch and you say thank god for molding. Old Trail was off by a factor of over 100 percent from the data in the Master Plan. Wyant then ignored a petition from the community with over 1,000 signatures asking him to conform to the Master Plan. He voted to accept the Planning Staff’s position paper telling us the Master Plan now allowed for over 24,000 people in Crozet, or better then 1/2 the size of the city of Cville. He was right about the Master Plan, at least his plan, being too big and causing taxes to go up. We’ve seen double digit increases in 05 and now 07. I don’t think even the good old boys believe him any more and I don’t think recent Daily Progress did him much help. The fact we have the Crozet Gazette means Wyant’s actions have gotten a good amount of press and the community is well aware of his record.I believe if Mallek takes Earlysville and Crozet, Wyant’s gone.

  2. Money doesn’t mean victory, especially in local politics. Carter Myers had a lot more money than Sally Thomas. She beat him easily and she wasn’t even on the ballot and had to run as a write-in candidate.

  3. In the grand scheme of things, this is the most unimportant story I’ve seen lately. I would like to see a lively conversation on here about Warner stepping down, the abusive driver fees, the inept republican general assmbly, the dems chance-or not-of picking up the VA senate and/or house, the upcoming city council race, the CA race. Lots of interesting subjects happening around us rather than some minor politics in Crozet Virginia.

  4. Jan, I respectfully disagree. What happens in this election is crucial to those who live in Crozet, the County and the region as the implications on how we grow are huge (to those who live in any of these places). All politics are local, as they say.

    Regarding Warner, fees, general assembly, there is lots of discussion about those issues here, here and here, for starters.

  5. I like this blog and I find it interesting that it is this blog that shows up first on Google. I go to the other blogs as well as this one like RK and Lloyd’s blog.
    But this is truly a local blog with my friends and neighbors and colleagues.

    So I can just choose not to participate in issues that don’t interest me. It’s all about choice of course.

  6. “Minor politics in Crozet Virginia”??!! That’s just plain insulting.

    In the first place, the Mallek-Wyant race is of direct importance to the Crozet area, the second most populous area in Cville-Albemarle. In the second place, any shift in the political makeup of the Albemarle Board of Supervisors affects the entire county. In the third place, as Albemarle grows the impact of BofS decisions have more and more impact on Charlottesville proper.

    FWIW, I drove home from C’ville to White Hall yesterday by way of 240 and through Crozet. For the moment, at least, Wyant’s stiff competition in Crozet is not evident in the signage along that route, which is almost entirely for Wyant. Lots of Claytor signs everywhere, one or two lone Harding signs. A great huge front yard sign for Sime (Libertarian state senate) on Browns Gap Turnpike, no signs for Hanger or Democratic challenger David Cox yet. As Labor Day weekend is the traditional start of put-up-your-sign season, this all may change.

    Waldo, here’s hoping you’ll cover the 24th District senate race from time to time, here or on your personal blog. It’s definitely going to be a 3-way race. I think it’s fair to say that all three candidates are good folks (I’ve met all three). If I could appoint the next senator I’d have to go with Cox based on the issues, but his campaign is next to invisible this side of the mountains. (His major website focus is on the I-81 corridor.) Sime is the anointed anti-tax candidate, of course, but it will be interesting to see where he comes down on social issues, where a libertarian stance may not be so palatable to traditional Republican conservatives.

  7. Claytor sure does have a lot of signs everywhere. My goodness, I love to see that!

    Also, re: Malleck vs. Wyant, Kevin Cox is right, money aint everything.

    If that were so Allen would have beat Webb, he out spent him 2 to 1, and Kaine would have lost to Kilgore, almost out spent 2 to 1.

    Even more than national and state elections, its the ground game, and the county Ds have been kicking ass and taking names. Last fall we won the county by pretty much the total vote margin that Webb one the whole election.

    And we have been out canvassing in full force this year. I am expecting good things. Any Ds reading this, get in touch with the party and get out there and knock on some doors.

  8. Broke the story? That’s kind of funny/partisan Waldo since the Wyant campaign sent out a press release about it. The story clearly says “Wyant touts”. It came out before the disclosure on VPAP.org. But by all means make it seem as other than it was.

    I hope your jaw will continue to drop when the large democrat contributions come in.

    To CrozetResident, you were against Wyant last time around and might have even been touting a close election last time- it isn’t how it work out.

    But was most amusing is how you blame the master plan for property taxes going up. This tortured logic is not back by fact. Without Old Trail, assessments would have gone up. Assessments are NOT controlled by government, they are controlled by the market place. Albemarle controls the TAX RATE. Wyant was one of the only supervisors to try and lower the rate to .65 cents. It was Sally Thomas et al that insisted on a higher rate. If you want to talk about higher taxes you blaming the wrong supervisor.

  9. Perlogik,
    Your correct I did not support Wyant last time around, mostly because his campaign’s target was the Master Plan, which was an honest effort on the part of the community to deal with growth. He made a blatant effort to convince older residents that he was going to be their savior and save Crozet from the Master Plan and an increase in the population from 3,000 to 12,000. The question is now that they know he flat out lied to them will they vote for him? Add to this the fact that most have seen their taxes go up by 20 percent and more and if they ask themselves am I better off now then 4 years ago, the answer is “I think not”.

  10. I’m not sure this passes the smell test. Shouldn’t public officials go out of their way to prevent such conflicts? I was always taught that a conflict of interest exists when the perception is there. I found conflict of interest for an elected official defined as: “A conflict between an individual’s personal interest and his or her public duty. This can exist whether or not money is involved, and whether the conflict is actual or only perceived.” The US Forest Service defines it as “Any action taken by a Forest Service employee on behalf of a partner that could be construed by another partner or the public as an entitlement to obtain special consideration or advantage in current or future transactions with the agency.”

    So it seems that whether or not the intent of the donation or the acceptance of same is related to political leverage or favors is irrelevant. The appearance of impropriety is what makes this donation inappropriate.

  11. Broke the story? That’s kind of funny/partisan Waldo since the Wyant campaign sent out a press release about it.

    Uh…I was just trying to give credit to the media outlet that had the story first. I’m not sure what’s unreasonable (or partisan) about that.

    On the topic of state politics, I’ve never discussed that here too often, mostly because I’m not really sure what the line is — that is, when I would write about a state political matter and when it doesn’t make sense. Obviously, I can write about state politics ’til the cows come home, but I don’t know how do to that here while maintaining the existing focus of the site.

  12. Waldo I gotta agree with Perlogik here. Your use of “broke the story” when Wyant’s campaign had already announced the contribution previously is misleading at best.

    Apart from that, this election boils down to a contest between an experienced member of the BOS with an incredibly impressive resume as a civil engineer and local business owner. In addition, Wyant’s a referee in the NFL which, OK, doesn’t really burnish his credentials to be on the BOS, but is just really, really cool I think.

    On the other hand, the Daily Progress describes Ms. Mallek as a “community activist from Earlysville.” Well. Al Sharpton’s a community activist too, but I don’t think the White Hall District is looking for that sort of leadership.

  13. Oh and Waldo how is the ” the appearance of impropriety” for the $2,500 donation that another planning commissioner Bill Edgerton gave to Marcia Joseph (and democratic supervisor nominee) that boards chairwoman. Are you 25% as concerned?

  14. Waldo I gotta agree with Perlogik here. Your use of “broke the story” when Wyant’s campaign had already announced the contribution previously is misleading at best.

    I’m still not understanding why it’s “misleading” to credit the media outlet who had the sense to run the story weeks before anybody else.

    Oh and Waldo how is the “the appearance of impropriety” for the $2,500 donation that another planning commissioner Bill Edgerton gave to Marcia Joseph (and democratic supervisor nominee) that boards chairwoman. Are you 25% as concerned?

    I might be, if you could explain to me what the potential conflict of interest is, since I don’t see it.

  15. “I might be, if you could explain to me what the potential conflict of interest is, since I don’t see it.”
    She is getting a large donation from someone she might have to reappoint as a supervisor, or might even help become the next chairman of the planning commission. I’m am not saying it is what is happening but would be open the same logic. The only difference is one now has the the power to appoint; the other has the potental to do exactly the same thing.

    When one “breaks” a story it suggests that harding working reporters dug deep and found out the truth for the public good. “Breaking” news is not printing part of a press release (unless the reporter is the only source for that press release) that is just news.

  16. Give me a break, you guys are puffing your chests about nuting . . .

    Broke the story, first of all where in the news story does it say Wyant press released this thing. Only folks involved in Wyants campaign would know that which I am assuming Perlogik is in fact involved in Wyant’s campaign.

    And yes Perlogik, “she is getting a large donation from someone she MIGHT have to reappoint”.

    Something entirely different than getting a giant, huge, enormous, unprecedented donation from someone you DID appoint.

    Also . . . hehehe, I love this, from Zorbist, the man who just moved here in 2001, “he really understands how to get things done in the Albemarle County way.”

    Yeahhhh, I guess if he means the “Albemarle County way” is only taking phone calls from real rich constituents. Which sorry to say, though my family has been here for 10 generations, too, David has a reputation for just that sort of thing.

  17. “Only folks involved in Wyants campaign would know” Sorry that’s not true, all you had to do is read the article and look at the facts.

    First the article clearly says “tout”. Add to that the fact the contribution wasn’t listed on the vpap.org. This means it hasn’t been reported, which means that the campagin has to be the source. When you look at the text quotes in the article it sure reads like a press release. I will admit that I have read alot of press releases, just not this one. Sorry, I used the informtaion available and made an educated guess. I could certainly be wrong.

    Wait, does this mean I “broke” the story of the press release?

    “Something entirely different than getting a giant, huge, enormous, unprecedented donation from someone you DID appoint”
    Really why? Because it’s $10,000 not $2,500. Because they both seem like they could be a conflict(I’m not make that claim-you are). Are you saying that you can’t be influence as a challenger but only as an incumbent? Because that would be a interesting line to draw.

    Is $10,000 the reason it’s a big deal because dems have gotten $5,000 in the past?

  18. he, he, he.

    Perlogik you sure are twisting to ‘splain this one away.

    Yeahhh, I am sure, “yeah thats right its because this and that and the other thing that I knew it was press released.”

    he, he, he.

    you’all on Wyant’s team (if your not, you are talking to folks who are)
    made a bad political calculation.

    Nobody thinks this “passes the smell test”–as said above– not even my Republican friends and family members.

    You know because 5,000 is TWICE as much as 10,000 and is unprecedented and there is a direct line correlation between the one appointed and the one receiving the money. There is nothing hypothetical in this scenario at all.

    I mean, duh!

  19. Rural Dem- well, where is my team jersey? I didn’t even know they were having try outs. You make an accusation, I offer an explanation, and the best retort you got is he, he, he. No, “your logic is faulty because of x, y or z”?

    If it doesn’t pass the smell test than it will hurt the campaign, though I don’t think you can use the term nobody till after the election. But I’m thrilled to hear that you know republicans and even have them is friends. Give all my teammates I great big “howdy” from their pal, perlogik.

    Now that we have established that $5,000 =good and $10,000 = bad, where exactly is $7500? Since the $5000 dem donation came 4 years ago is there any adjustment for inflation?

    And did you ever answer the question about giving large donations to incumbents different from giving them from to challengers when it involves planning commission appointments? Should Joseph have turned down Edgerton’s money because how it might look later if she re-appoints him?

  20. While I can certainly understand why the $10,000 campaign contribution to David Wyant from the guy he appointed to the planning commission raises some eyebrows…….

    I’m not sure why anyone would question the $2500 contribution to Marcia Joseph’s campaign from Bill Edgerton. Bill is in the Jack Jouett magisterial district and gets appointed by Dennie Rooker, as does each member of the planning commission get appointed ONLY by their BOS member. Marcia Joseph, who hold the “at-large” position on the planning commission is the ONLY member appointed by all the BOS members. She does not or will not have any control over whether Bill continues to serve on the Planning Commission or not.

    The question we should all be asking ourselves is what are the BOS members today getting from the development community. Just 2 days ago, Ken Boyd and David Slutsky were trying to help Wendall Wood AGAIN by changing land use so Wendall can put in a super Walmart across the street from Forest Lakes. All because he’s promised that the “big-box” will pay for part of the Berkmar extension road. Isn’t this the same Wendall who used the need to vitalize the Hollymead shopping center with more 2200 more housing units behind the shopping center because the stores weren’t doing well. And because Wendall has put in so much development on northern 29 that traffic is horrendous and the county’s done nothing about it, we should now let him tear up more rural land for a frigging Walmart???

  21. Yeah, the eagerness with which the BOS has jumped through hoops for the likes of Wendell Wood is disgusting. After all, what has he done to conform to the neighborhood model or use more sustainable design? All the stuff built by that guy is only so much garbage strewn over the countryside. Even the Hollymeade “Town Center” which was supposed to model new urbanism ended up to be nothing more than a big box shopping center full of parking lots. I keep waiting for anything remotely hinting at the neighborhood model to emerge from that development. Despite all the attention given to discussions of critical slope, runoff and such, that development was allowed to cause a mudslide that covered 29. Even after flagrantly violating wetland laws, we apparently choose reward that kind of behavior down the road.

    Don’t get me wrong though, I even think he is capable of doing the right thing in terms of development. If he decided to change his methodology then I’d could change my attitude towards him fairly quickly. The thing is though that he hasn’t done a single thing to demonstrate that he’s trying to develop more responsibly. Instead he’s just proffering more. It kind of reminds me of when the Catholic Church used to allow people to buy indulgences for the sins they might commit in the future. Plus, when he’s played a big role in creating the traffic and infrastructure problems, is he really “Giving” the county anything by offering money for a new road that’ll be used by his developments?

  22. The Charlottesville/Albemarle region is absolutely thriving, largely due to the efforts of men like Wendell Wood. How do you suppose we came to be ranked the #1 place to live in America? Sure, it was a mixed blessing, but without people like Wood willing to take risks there’d be no one moving here, and consequently, no job growth and burgeoning home/property values.

  23. Hmmm… “Thriving” is not how I’d have put it. Perhaps if one means it in the sense of “Rabbits are thriving in Australia!” Yeah, I agree that people like Wendell Wood may very well have been influential in the #1 rating, or at least reponsible for the exponential growth we’ve seen, but I fail to see anything really positive that came of any of that for existing residents unless one is a developer or real estate agent. I suppose some locals benefited who aimed to sell out and move elsewhere, but all the rest of us got were crowded roads, crowded schools, less water, higher taxes, less open space, less biodiversity and less rural areas.

    Name a single development that Wood’s name is attached to that doesn’t look like “anywhere America”. I’m reminded of the “song by Malvina Reynolds, Little Boxes” that might as well have been written just for Mr. Wood. I can’t see for the life of me how that constitutes a positive contribution to our town. To quote another song by Joni Mitchell… Wendell Wood was literally the guy that “Paved Paradise and put up a parking lot”.

    As I suggested, none of those developments had to be that way, but my impression is that he just likes to make a quick buck and move on to something else. At any point, Wood could choose to to business differently, but so far he has seemed completely unwilling to do so. That’s way we need better representation in the County that can’t be easily bought and sold (as Wyant apparently is). If we leave everything to the free market then we’ll lose everything that really does make this town great (And that doesn’t include a Super WalMart…)

  24. I have to agree with Lonnie. I’d also point out that Charlottesville dropped from the #1 position because of all the development and inflated housing market. I don’t think Wendall had anything to do with getting to #1 and since the paper today announced that housing values went down almost 14% in the last year, I’ll be curious to see what he does next.

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