May 21, 2019
VIENNA, VA – Democrat Tim Chapman, candidate for Chair of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, filed a formal conflict of interest and gift complaint against current Fairfax County Supervisor Jeff McKay based upon last week’s news reports in The Washington Post and NPR’s WAMU-FM.
“There is sufficient evidence that Supervisor McKay received a sweetheart deal on his home, from a developer who routinely has dealings before the Fairfax County Board,” Chapman wrote in the complaint. “This favorable deal was not disclosed in any of McKay’s required disclosure statements, and is a breach of trust his constituents have placed in him.”
The complaint alleges that McKay has violated Virginia’s State and Local Government Conflict of Interests Act. On May 16, 2019, The Washington Post wrote: “If McKay had a business relationship with Halle during the time the rezoning was being considered, under state law he would have to disclose it as a conflict of interest.” Additionally, McKay and his lawyers wrote that the transaction was handled to make the home “affordable” for McKay and avoiding a public listing of the property that saved McKay over $50,000. Virginia law defines that as a gift.
“We call for a full, immediate and independent investigation,” Chapman added. “Given that Supervisor McKay is a leading candidate for Chair of the Board of Supervisors for the June 11 primary and in the name of transparency, we call for officials to move quickly so Fairfax County residents have the full information prior to the primary vote.”
Here are the four key takeaways from the complaint filed by the Chapman campaign (full complaint attached):
- It is a violation of Virginia’s State and Local Government Conflict of Interests Act for a public official to, amongst other things:
- Accept any money, loan, gift, favor, service, or business or professional opportunity that reasonably tends to influence him in the performance of his official duties [or]
- Accept a gift from a person who has interests that may be substantially affected by the performance of the officer’s or employee’s official duties under circumstances where the timing and nature of the gift would cause a reasonable person to question the officer’s or employee’s impartiality in the matter affecting the donor.
2. These lead to the core issue in the complaint – that Supervisor McKay purchased a home directly from McGhan, who has regular business before the County for permits, zoning applications, and other required approvals in the ordinary course of his business as a residential developer, for a price that appears to be far below similar homes in the area.
a. McKay’s home – built brand new – is 5 bedrooms, 4.5 bathrooms in 4,364 square feet, https://www.zillow.com/homes/for_sale/168087285_zpid/38.766874,-77.131529,38.763206,-77.137296_rect/17_zm/1_fr/.
b. A similarly-sized and (estimated) priced home in the area, 7000 Highland Meadows Ct Alexandria, VA 22315, only has 4 bedrooms and 4 bathrooms in 3,700 square feet, https://www.zillow.com/homes/for_sale/59789397_zpid/38.766703,-77.129839,38.763035,-77.135606_rect/17_zm/1_fr/.
c. A significantly smaller home in the area than the Roxanne Road Property, 7012 Highland Meadows Ct Alexandria, VA 22315, with 4 bedrooms and 3.5 bathrooms in 3,155 square feet, last sold in 2004 for $750,000, https://www.zillow.com/homes/for_sale/59789391_zpid/38.766241,-77.129761,38.762573,-77.135527_rect/17_zm/1_fr/.
These comparisons make the price in and of itself suspect – a home that large in one of the most expensive areas in the country sold for that price does not pass any possible smell-test.
3. McKay and McGhan appear to have taken steps to make the transaction as favorable to McKay as possible – without regard for what the market around McKay’s new home would have the cost be.
The failure to post in MLS is one example of this – in McKay’s attorney’s words, “The property was not listed in MLS to save the expense of this directly negotiated sale. The property then could be purchased at a price Supervisor McKay and his wife could afford after selling their family’s home.” An ordinary citizen would certainly not have such easy access to a directly negotiated sale like this.
4. From this, it stands to reason that these actions would “reasonably tend to influence [McKay] in the performance of his official duties”, and a reasonable person would certainly question McKay’s impartiality towards any matter involving McGhan.