The Fauquier Times’ recent coverage of Citizens for Fauquier County’s FOIA-related lawsuit (“Citizens for Fauquier County sues Warrenton over FOIA interpretation,” Dec. 28, 2022) provides some important information on our litigation. However, it needlessly distracts your readers from the substance and most critical aspects of the lawsuit and mischaracterizes CFFC and its mission.
If the readers of your article had no prior knowledge of the issues at hand, they would likely think that the lawsuit was over the “interpretation” of an arcane legal statute. It is not.
The purpose and essence of CFFC’s lawsuit is to compel the Town of Warrenton to fulfill its legal obligation for transparency and accountability and address the town’s unwillingness to provide all communications between Mayor Carter Nevill or former Town Manager Brandie Schaeffer (who now works for Amazon) and Amazon, regarding the proposed data center in Warrenton.
I think your readers would have been better served with an explanation about why CFFC needed to file a lawsuit. To date, despite many citizens expressing concerns about the actions of the former town manager and the appearance of impropriety, town officials have failed to live up to their obligations to transparently serve the citizens of Warrenton by withholding over 3,100 emails between Schaeffer, Nevill and Amazon.
Regardless of whether the town’s assertion that it is not required to make the emails available to the public is correct, it is undeniable that it could mitigate the many concerns among its residents about improprieties and demonstrate its dedication to transparent responsive government by releasing all of the emails. But it did not.
Lastly, the article characterizes CFFC as “a local lobbying group” which suggests that CFFC may have a financial interest in the issues it “lobbies” for or against. This is flatly not the truth.
Not only is CFFC the oldest non-profit organization in Fauquier dedicated to preserving our county’s unique character and way of life, it and its all-volunteer board does not financially benefit in any way from any position taken by CFFC.
Nor does CFFC lobby for any “special interests” other than interests expressed by citizens who care about the future of Fauquier.
Citizens for Fauquier County