A Virginia attorney backed by left-wing billionaire George Soros on Friday killed off an effort to recall a Democratic school board member who opposed reopening schools last year, according to a report in the Washington Free Beacon.
The Open Fair County Public Schools Coalition, a parents group, earlier this year met the signature requirements to recall Fairfax County school board member Elaine Tholen, saying she neglected her duties as an elected official by refusing to reopen schools due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
James Hingeley, a lawyer in Virginia with ties to the Soros-funded Justice and Safety PAC and to Tholen (the target of the action he was brought on to defend), dismissed the action in a court filing Friday.
Hingeley, who serves as Albemarle County commonwealth's attorney, was assigned to argue the case by Fairfax County Commonwealth's Attorney Steve Descano, who recused himself from the proceedings. Fox News reported that Descano had received $600,000 from the Soros organization. Descano was also paid thousands of dollars by Tholen, the target of the recall effort, according to the Virginia Public Access Project.
While Descano recused himself from defending the recall, Hingeley did not. The Beacon reported that Hingeley had actually campaigned alongside Tholen in 2019. Hingeley also received $5,000 from the same Soros-funded PAC as Descano, according to Fox News.
Descano is battling a recall effort of his own.
Tholen filed a motion to dismiss last week the action with Fairfax County Circuit Judge Richard Gardiner. He denied the motion, ruling that a trial would determine the veracity of the coalition's allegations.
Rather than argue the coalition's case, Hingeley sought to have it dismissed. He said he had completed his own investigation into the parents' petition and called their accusations "improper." Gardiner said in last week's hearing that his hands were tied in the matter and that he had to approve Hingeley's request, which he did Friday.
''It felt like the fix was in," said Dee O'Neal, a leader with the coalition. O'Neal, who was in the meeting with Gardiner and Hingeley, said the outcome was obvious from the start.
"It was clear he wasn't going to represent us. He told us he didn't represent us, but the people of the county," O'Neal said. "The first thought that came to my head was, if this guy is going to be defending Elaine Tholen and the county, who's defending the petition?
"It was definitely political. I mean, I don't care what party you vote for. It felt planned," O'Neal said. "We weren't given a fair shake because of the person who was there to defend us."
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