Commonwealth prosecutor recall effort intensifies
A recall effort targeting Arlington’s top prosecutor is said to be gaining traction.
In August, a political group called Virginians for Safe Communities (VSC) launched a recall operation against Parisa Dehghani-Tafti, Commonwealth prosecutor for Arlington County and the town of Falls Church, as well as her counterparts Buta Biberaj and Steve Descano in Loudoun and Fairfax counties, respectively.
Dehghani-Tafti was elected in 2019 on the promise of reforming the criminal justice system. His tenure has included efforts to reduce racial disparities in prosecutions, investigate wrongful convictions, and decriminalize possession of marijuana. But VSC says its approach made Arlington less secure.
And now the group is expanding its reach with letters – sent home in Arlington this week – as well as a new website dedicated to Dehghani-Tafti and an email recall petition. The website would attract visitors and signers, according to the organizers of the recall.
“VSC has started sending letters to voters informing them of Parisa’s radical and dangerous agenda and the breach of its duty to uphold justice, protect victims and enforce Commonwealth laws,” the chief said. from VSC, Sean Kennedy.
“Our efforts in Arlington County and the Town of Falls Church are intensifying significantly in the near future and will include direct communication with voters on various platforms as well as public forums,” Kennedy continued. “FireParisa.com is already generating a lot of traffic in [this] first week and we’re on track to collect the 5,500 signatures required to protect Arlington by sending it to trial. “
The courier accuses Dehghani-Tafti of lenient treatment of criminals, referring to plea cases with a man allegedly caught with 50 pounds of marijuana at the national airport and a man accused of throwing two dogs off a balcony upon their death.
In a response, Dehghani-Tafti denied VSC’s claims that she was neglecting her duties as a prosecutor and linked the group to other recall efforts in the region.
“These are lies pushed by the same Trump, black money-backed political agents and right-wing groups who have sought to intimidate elected school boards across Northern Virginia just to do their jobs. It’s part of a larger nationwide agenda where they abuse outdated recall laws because they can’t win at the polls, ”she said.
VSC’s activity was covered by The New York Times, which described Kennedy as a Republican political agent and noted that another funder, a former person appointed by the Trump administration Ian Prieur, is “leading a petition to dismiss Loudoun County School Board members over critical race theory.”
The recall effort comes from Descano as he faces backlash from judges for what they call overly lenient plea deals in child sexual abuse cases.
2 / The ruling comes the same week another judge blasted prosecutor’s office Steve Descano for a plea deal in another child sexual abuse case. https://t.co/46CBQFx1Ux
– justin jouvenal (@jjouvenal) September 24, 2021
What is happening between Descano and the judiciary is another example of the judicial standoff between progressive and reformist prosecutors and judges.
VSC must collect enough signatures for a court to reconsider its case against the three prosecutors. A special election would be held if the group obtains both these signatures and a judge ruled in its favor.
In addition to paid and volunteer canvassers, the group has launched e-petitions. Kennedy said it’s a common misconception that signatures for Virginia candidates or official reminders should be pen and paper. During the pandemic, six election candidates successfully sued the Virginia Department of Elections and the State Board of Elections, allowing electronic signature collection.
“Recent Virginia Supreme Court rulings, statutory changes in Richmond and Virginia Electoral Council regulations and rule changes have significantly altered these requirements,” he said. “Our very experienced lawyers have confidently concluded that the digital signatures (which are signed to the point of perjury and using a signature tool, not text only) are valid.”