Stand Up Virginia (SUV), an organization that is trying to recall Fairfax County Commonwealth’s Attorney Steve Descano, announced a recall effort aimed at Loudoun County Commonwealth’s Attorney Buta Biberaj, alleging that her progressive prosecutor policies are harming victims.
“Miss Buta Biberaj, you do not do your job, nor have you done your job since the year ago when you were elected,” SUV President Brenda Tillett said at a Thursday press conference.
Several of the reasons Tillett listed for recalling Biberaj are based on comments Loudoun County Board of Supervisors Chair Phyllis Randall made earlier this year in board meetings about Biberaj’s office. In March, Randall criticized Biberaj for failing to protect domestic violence victims.
“The things that I am hearing, the letters I have, the emails I have, the text message screenshots I have would curl somebody’s toes to look at them. They are frightening in many, many ways,” Randall said in March.
Biberaj told the board that physically violent cases are rare. In May, she told The Virginia Star that first offense cases often don’t end in neat convictions. As for the rest, Biberaj said her goal was to allow people to remain in the community, at work, and with their families as much as possible.
“The people of Loudoun County voted a different administration into office so that we could do things differently. The old way of doing cookie-cutter things where were just processing people is no longer valid because ethics values show that that does not show value for our community,” she told the board in March.
On Friday, Randall updated her statements in a press release by the Loudoun County Democratic Committee (LCDC). Randall and Biberaj are both Democrats.
“Over the past six months, the Commonwealth’s Attorney for Loudoun County, Buta Biberaj, has made impressive improvements to her office,” Randall said. “Ms. Biberaj has not only signed the County Cooperative Agreement, but she has also invited senior county staff to assist in personnel and organizational matters. In addition, Ms. Biberaj is holding regular meetings with victim groups. Finally, she continues to add valuable staff to her team. Ms. Biberaj has turned suggestions from the Board of Supervisors into action items. She has my full support as she continues to make changes that will benefit all citizens of Loudoun County.”
Another reason for the recall listed on the petition is Biberaj’s participation in the Facebook group “Anti–Racist Parents of Loudoun County.”
Both Biberaj and Descano are part of a movement of progressive prosecutors who use prosecutorial discretion to compensate for criminal justice laws that are potentially too harsh. But conservatives argue that wholesale rejection of criminal laws is power that belongs to legislators, not prosecutors. Republicans are running for election in Virginia in part on a law-and-order platform, arguing that progressive policies across elected offices are putting victims at risk. Tillet said this isn’t a partisan issue — she’s heard from people with various political backgrounds who are supporting the recall efforts.
She said about 11,500 signatures are needed on the recall petition. SUV’s petition to recall Descano, launched in April, needs 30,000 signatures; Tillett said they currently have thousands. But SUV isn’t stopping at Descano and Biberaj. Tillett said that, given enough resources, SUV will launch petitions against all the members of the Virginia Progressive Prosecutors for Justice.
LCDC Chair Lissa Savaglio said in the press release, “We’ve seen a number of conservative groups that have targeted the offices they failed to win at the ballot box with divisive and partisan recall efforts. This attempt to invalidate the votes of over 57,000 Loudoun residents is disgraceful.”
Tillett told The Star there’s too much at stake to wait until Biberaj and Descano are up for re-election.
“They both have about two-and-a-half to three years left in office. And when you look at what they’ve already done thus far, if you give them that amount of time to continue to cause destruction in Loudoun County, we don’t know what it’s going to look like at that time,” Tillett said. “Every day that we continue allowing these elected officials to maintain office deciding they do not prosecute cases, which they don’t do, is another day that we have more potential victims in Fairfax and Loudoun County.”
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