WAMU 88.5 : Morning Edition

Filed Under:

Vying For Influence In Fairfax County

Play associated audio

Why do people give money to candidates for the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors? According to George Mason University communications professor Stephen Farnsworth, it's a simple equation.

"People give money in politics to get what they want, and if they weren't getting what they want, they wouldn't keep giving money," he says.

The county's supervisors disagree, saying that people contribute to campaigns because they agree with their values. Take developer Theodore Georgelas, who frequently has business before the county board. In the last decade, he's contributed more than $95,000 to a variety of political action committees and candidates. One of those is Braddock District Supervisor John Cook, who received $1,000 from Georgelas.

"Ted Georgelas, as well as other people in the business community, want a strong business environment," says Cook. "That's something I ran on."

In the last four years, Mason District Supervisor Penny Gross has received $12,000 from an entity known as 8500 CDC LP, an organization tied to developer Daniel Clemente. Gross says he was buying good government.

"I worked with Mr. Clemente and his organization on some developments of new housing in the Skyline area of Bailey's Crossroads, a wonderful new revitalization," says Gross.

Her Republican challenger, David Feld, took out a loan to fund his campaign. He says Clemente and other developers are buying influence. "I believe it's unethical to take contributions from anybody that you're doing business with," Feld says.

Lee District Supervisor Jeff McKay would like to see public financing for campaigns and limits to donations, he says. But unless there's some reform in how money is raised, he adds, candidates would be foolish not to raise significant amounts of money.

Providence District Supervisor Lynda Smyth admits to a close relationship with one donor. "The biggest contributor to my campaign was my husband," Smyth says. But the only outcome he's expecting, she says, is for her to take him out to dinner.

Incumbent supervisors have raised $2 million thus far this election cycle.


Comic-Con Fans Continue The Epic Battle Between Science And Fiction

Fans of science fiction have long wrestled with the question of just how much science should be in their fiction. Advocates of different approaches met at San Diego's Comic-Con.

Scraped, Splattered — But Silent No More. Finally, The Dinner Plate Gets Its Say

Instagram is the Internet's semi-obsessive, borderline-creepy love letter to food. But behind every great meal is a plate doing a pretty-OK job. So a comedian made an Instagram to celebrate plates.

Leaked Democratic Party Emails Show Members Tried To Undercut Sanders

Just days before the Democratic National Committee convention gets underway, WikiLeaks releases almost 20,000 emails among DNC staff, revealing discussions of topics from Bernie Sanders to the media.

Making The Cloud Green: Tech Firms Push For Renewable Energy Sources

Few people can demand what kind of electricity they get. But Microsoft and Facebook, which operate huge, power-hungry data centers, are trying to green up the electricity grid with their buying power.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.