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Virginia Democrats Turn on Soros-Funded Prosecutor

George Soros / Getty Images
• June 14, 2022 12:00 pm

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Loudoun County commonwealth's attorney Buta Biberaj was a top prospect for the George Soros-funded Justice and Public Safety PAC when she ran for the post in 2019. Three years in, she's losing allies amid mounting scandals and rising crime.

Top Democrats in the county, including board of supervisors chair Phyllis Randall, are searching for a candidate to take on Biberaj, according to two sources with knowledge of their thinking. The embattled official, who faces an ongoing recall effort, was elevated by nearly a million dollars from Soros in 2019 and is up for reelection next year.

The Democratic turn against Biberaj is further evidence of the weakening political viability of the "progressive prosecutor" movement. Voters in San Francisco last week removed District Attorney Chesa Boudin from office by a double-digit margin, a stunning rebuke to jailbreak policies in the nation's most leftwing city. The national spike in violent crime is registering as a top issue for voters in a political environment thought to favor the GOP.

The turn against Biberaj is also a poor reflection on Soros's Justice and Public Safety PAC, which poured $922,000 into her 2019 campaign. That donation, a staggering sum for a local election, accounted for the overwhelming majority of pro-Biberaj electioneering and reflects Biberaj's status as a Soros prosecutor poster child. The mounting frustration with Biberaj, however, is only partly ideological. The commonwealth's attorney has come under fire for hiring lapses and high turnover in her office, demonstrating a failure to command the confidence of staff.

Biberaj is an isolated figure in Loudoun politics. She shuns the press altogether, seldom engaging in interviews or answering even basic questions. The commonwealth's attorney did not respond to the Washington Free Beacon‘s request for comment for this story. And Biberaj has a chilly relationship with Randall, the county's top elected Democrat. Briefly allies during the 2019 county elections, the break between the pair is increasingly public.

Randall and Rep. Jennifer Wexton (D., Va.)—a seasoned prosecutor before her election to Congress—declined to tell the Free Beacon whether they plan to support Biberaj's reelection bid next year. Local party chief Lissa Savaglio said the Loudoun County Democratic Committee will decide down the road whether to back Biberaj for a second term.

"That will be up to the members of the committee, as it is in all endorsements," Savaglio told the Free Beacon. "Speaking personally, I think Buta is doing a fantastic job as our commonwealth's attorney."

It's unknown how aggressively anti-Biberaj Democrats might campaign against the embattled commonwealth's attorney. The Boudin recall may be instructive for Democrats sharing a ticket with progressive prosecutors like Biberaj. San Francisco mayor London Breed didn't formally endorse Boudin's removal, but she made her displeasure with Boudin clear and did nothing to boost his prospects.

Some criticisms of Biberaj turn on basic questions of managerial competence. Biberaj's office hired a registered sex offender to work as a paralegal in February and dismissed him only after the offender's probation officer raised a red flag. Biberaj tried to pawn the incident off on a county human resources office, which prompted a public rebuke from Randall.

Emails obtained by the Free Beacon also show Biberaj lost the confidence of many career lawyers in the Loudoun commonwealth's attorney office, who have since left for different posts. Democrats and Republicans alike on the county board of supervisors grilled Biberaj about a flood of departures from her office during a budget session in 2021.

"The prosecutors in that office are so scared that if they don't give the defense everything they ask for there is fear that the defense attorney will go to Buta and complain that the [assistant commonwealth's attorney] is being too hard," ex-Loudoun prosecutor Jason Faw wrote to Randall by email.

Recently a Loudoun County judge disqualified Biberaj's office from a criminal case after concluding the prosecutor downplayed and omitted details of a defendant's criminal past to win approval for a plea deal. The defendant, Kevin Enrique Valle, was implicated in a 12-burglary crime spree over four Virginia counties in less than two weeks. Biberaj's team agreed to a six-month jail sentence, but a Loudoun County judge said that sentence was inconsistent with state guidelines and the facts of the case. The judge assigned the matter to a different county prosecutor.

Randall on Monday afternoon took a shot at Biberaj, saying criminal sentences should match the severity of an offense.

"I believe Loudoun's commonwealth attorney should remember her first duty is to ensure, to the greatest degree possible, the safety of the citizens of Loudoun County," Randall said.

Biberaj is separately facing an effort to remove her from office before the 2023 election. If recall organizers gather almost 12,000 signatures—representing 10 percent of the 2019 electorate—a Loudoun County judge will decide whether Biberaj ought to be removed as commonwealth's attorney. Removal is permissible only for neglect of duty or abuse of office. If a judge signs off on her removal, a special election to pick a replacement will follow.