Court Finds That Prince William County Board Chair Ann Wheeler and Four Others “Willfully Violated the Virginia Freedom of Information Act”
May 19, 2023
On May 18, 2023, the Virginia Supreme Court found that Prince William County Board Chair Ann Wheeler, and four fellow Democrat supervisors, Andrea O. Bailey, Kenny Boddye, Victor S. Angry, and Margaret Angela Franklin, “knowingly and willfully violated the Virginia Freedom of Information Act (VFOIA) by attending a meeting…without complying with statutory requirements.” Prince William Residents Carol Fox, Tammy Spinks, and Alan Gloss brought the case against the five supervisors.
The plaintiffs initiated the case due to the deliberate actions of the Democrat members of the Board to not inform Republican Board members about a Citizens Advisory Board meeting between police, citizens and the Board on the day following the May 30, 2020, George Floyd protest riot on Sudley Road. The court decided that the five Democrat members of the Board vigorously engaged the police and citizens attending the meeting and acted as members of the Board, thereby falling under the VFOIA statute. Following the decision, Plaintiff Alan Gloss said, “In this illegal meeting they also chose not to allow my voice to be heard because they did not announce this meeting and they also even shut out the voices of the representatives of Gainesville, Coles and Brentsville by not even telling those elected officials that they were having a meeting. The riot happened in Gainesville district on the west end of the county, but only the eastern board members were invited to the meeting.” He went on to note that they did not even tell Supervisor Yesli Vega, of the meeting.
By taking these illegal actions, the Democrat supervisors shut out their Republican colleagues and other citizens of Prince William County from the chance to participate in making critical decisions. Chairman of the Prince William County Republican Committee, Denny Daugherty, stated that, “Open meetings laws exist to ensure that government conducts its business transparently. The Supreme Court has issued a stunning rebuke to the Democratic majority of the Board of Supervisors for improperly holding a meeting closed to the public and a significant number of other supervisors. Their lawlessness and partisanship is outrageous. The legal bills incurred to defend their indefensible action are also scandalous. Thank goodness three courageous citizens took the County to court to enforce the law. It’s time for the voters to reject the Backroom Meeting majority and elect supervisors who have nothing to hide.”
Those wishing to donate to help pay the citizen-plaintiffs’ legal team can do so at https://www.gofundme.com/f/prince-william-county-transparency-in-government