Twelve hours before Joe Biden was sworn in as the 46th American president, the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors joined the chorus of voices calling on Del. Dave A. LaRock (R-33) to resign after taking part in a rally that turned into a violent riot in the American capitol, and for his part in spreading false rhetoric around the results of the 2020 presidential election.
“Del. LaRock continues to promulgate disinformation about a certified free and fair election; misleads the public by making false assertions of who stormed the U.S Capitol and has not lived up to his oath of office to protect and defend the United States of America and the Commonwealth of Virginia against all enemies foreign and domestic and has demonstrated that he is unfit to represent Loudoun County with honesty and integrity and should resign from office forthwith,” the resolution reads.
Supervisors passed that resolution around midnight at their Jan. 19 meeting on a 6-1-1-1 vote, with every Democrat in favor, Supervisor Caleb A. Kershner (R-Catoctin) opposed, Supervisor Matthew F. Letourneau (R-Dulles) abstaining, and Supervisor Tony R. Buffington (R-Blue Ridge) absent.
Kershner defended LaRock from the dais after a lengthy public comment session that included many Republican supporters urging the board not to pass the resolution.
“Based upon both the turnout that we saw tonight and based upon what I’ve heard that those who wish to hurt Mr. LaRock have done nothing but make him a martyr of this board. And we all know when someone is martyred for what for speaking what they say, they become a hero,” Kershner said.
Kershner has tried to duck questions about alleged massive voter fraud conspiracies—neither supporting those conspiracy theories, nor refuting them. “I’m asking you not to go down that line of questioning,” Kershner said under repeated questioning last week.
Kershner, an attorney, is representing LaRock defending misdemeanor charges stemming from a dispute with a neighbor. One of LaRock’s children, Laura, works alongside Kershner as a paralegal at law firm Simms Showers.
Meanwhile Supervisor Matthew F. Letourneau (R-Dulles), while condemning the lies around the election, argued it was not an appropriate role for the county Board of Supervisors to play.
“Why do we want to bring ourselves and this boardroom into this gutter?” Letourneau said. “There’s no way to argue this isn’t divisive. We spent hours tonight hearing from people talking to us about it.”
He pointed out that when it came to a county official, he has in the past taken action to censure a colleague—in 2013 during Letourneau’s first term, an all-Republican Loudoun Board of Supervisors voted 8-1 to censure Eugene Delgaudio for instructing his office staff to fundraise for his activist group while on county time, also making permanent the earlier decision to remove his committee assignments. They also voted 6-3 to take away his staff aides and office budget.
But calling on a state delegate to resign, Letourneau said, is “not county business.”
“Now more than ever, people need us to be a democratically elected body that does its work, does it, and treats people with respect, has legitimate debates,” Letourneau said.
The board’s Democrats were unanimous in their support for the resolution.
“Mr. LaRock has demonstrated a clear lack of respect for his constituents, his office and our democracy,” said Supervisor Juli E. Briskman (D-Algonkian). “He follows and supports the actions and rhetoric spewed by those who would attack our nation’s most solemn and respected building, and the legislators therein. This is what he heard and did not act to quell as a responsible elected official: ‘We’re coming for you.’ ‘Trial by combat,’ said Rudy Giuliani. ‘Fight like hell,’ said Donald Trump, ‘you can’t take back our country with week weakness.’ And then Mr. LaRock joined the rioters on their march to the Capitol building up Pennsylvania Avenue, where these rioters stormed the capitol seeking to harm our legislators and our own vice president.”
“I have an issue with someone who intentionally promotes lies about the free and fair elections that we just had in November,” said Vice Chairman Koran T. Saines (D-Sterling). “Because of Trump and other elected officials, people have been misled about the election, and we saw the tragic results that can come from it. Words matter.”
“At the point where this crowd, inspired by months of lies promulgated by Donald Trump and others like Delegate LaRock, surged into the capitol, Delegate LaRock by his own account left, and then later he condemned the violence,” said Supervisor Kristen C. Umstattd (D-Leesburg). “By then the lies that Delegate LaRock had told, along with his mentor Donald Trump and others, had threatened democracy and threatened America.”
County Chair Phyllis J. Randall (D-At Large) said it is dangerous to tell people their votes did not matter, especially since people have been willing in history to fight and die for the right to vote.
“At some point, we have to ask ourselves, how long do we let somebody yell fire in a crowded theater, literally hurt other people with his provocative and inciteful words, and wash our hands because we say it’s not in our purview?” Randall said. “At some point, your silence is complicity. I won’t be complicit in what happened on the on the sixth of January.”
After the long public input session, Letourneau had some tough love for his colleagues in the Grand Old Party. He also pointed out that Joe Biden won approximately 61 percent of the vote in Loudoun—and said that those are the voters Republicans will have to convince in the future if they want to win another election.
He pointed to his own elective and legislative record, urging legislators at both the state and county level to focus on their jobs, pointing to his own legislative and elective record—both that he won his latest election by a greater percentage in his mostly blue district than LaRock did in his red district, and that LaRock last year introduced 41 bills in the General Assembly and successfully passed none of those.
“I’m not saying anybody should be silenced on those things, but we have to operate within certain norms, certain fundamental understandings of democracy and transition of power and federalism,” Letourneau said. “So it’s time that the Republican focus in Loudoun County get back to some of those things, instead of trying to alienate the majority of voters, because we will never win another election, whether I’m running or not. We won’t win another election. And I’ve really, really had enough of it, because I’m not the problem, despite what I hear from my party. I’m not the problem. It’s the folks folks who can’t win elections. Those are the problems.
LaRock has remained defiant in the face of mounting calls to resign, and stood by conspiracy theories around the 2020 election. He has been removed from one of his committee assignments, the House of Delegates Transportation Committee, leaving committee vice chairwoman Del. Kathleen Murphy (D-34) and Del. David A. Reid (D-32) Loudoun’s only representatives on that committee.
On Jan. 12, the Leesburg Town Council condemning the violence on Jan. 6 and calling on LaRock to resign. And earlier the same day as the Board of Supervisors meeting, the Loudoun and Winchester NAACP added their voices at an event outside the county government center.