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Moran Feud with Fairfax Police Gets Heated

Tim Craig

A nasty battle has developed between Del. Brian J. Moran's (D-Alexandria) staff and Fairfax County police officers and sheriff's deputies over their role in next year's governors race.

Last month, the Fairfax Coalition of Police and the Fairfax Deputy Sheriff's Coalition -- both affiliated with AFL-CIO and the International Union of Police Associations (I.U.P.A.) - endorsed Sen. R. Creigh Deeds (D-Bath) instead of Moran in the race for the Democratic nomination for governor.

Jesse F. Ferguson, Moran's communications director, responded by writing a terse letter to the two organizations on July 1 questioning the "legitimacy of" their endorsement.

"We believe that endorsements conducted in secret, without transparency, notification or commonly followed procedures should be considered suspect at best," Ferguson wrote on Moran for Governor letterhead. "We strongly question the legitimacy of this decision."

Ferguson accused the two unions of going back on their word to stay out of next year's Democratic primary.

In the letter, a copy of which was obtained by the Washington Post today, Ferguson said Marshall Thielen, of the Fairfax Coalition of Police Union, told him in 2007 the group would not get involved in the primary. Ferguson copied the letter to the Fairfax Coalition of Police Union's attorney, Ed Nuttall.

"We took you at your word and respected that stance, not pursuing or agitating for your endorsement," Ferguson wrote. "The Moran campaign was never notified of a change to that expectation. Furthermore, Delegate Moran and his staff did not receive a questionnaire to solicit information on his issue positions, were not given an opportunity to address the endorsement or any issues you may have taken with any of his votes or statements...prior to the decision."

Thielen and Kevin Pittman, president of the Fairfax Deputy Sheriff's Coalition, fired back a response to Moran today asking for an apology.

"The accusations leveled at the Fairfax Coalition of Police and Deputy Sheriff's Coalition are unwarranted, unwelcome and unbecoming of a candidate for public office," they wrote. "We do not appreciate your staff attempting to meddle in the affairs of our locals' participation in the political process and helping our friends. If you are unable to control your campaign staff we are left wondering how you will be able to manage the agencies and work with the institutions in an and around state government....It is very disappointing and disturbing that your campaign has put us in this very unfortunate position."

They also told Moran there was never any doubt that they would be endorsing Deeds, who was the Democratic nominee for attorney general in 2005.

"As we discussed with your staff, we did not feel a formal interview and endorsement would be fair to you because from the outset it was clear that Senator Deeds is far and away the most qualified and electable candidate in our view," they wrote.

Thielen and Pittman said their organizations "combined 1,200 members deserve no less" than a retraction and apology because they "are on the front lines every day protecting the citizens of Fairfax County."

In an interview today, Ferguson said Moran is trying to organize a meeting with Thielen and Pittman to discuss the matter.

"Delegate Moran feels strongly this should be handled personally and directly," Ferguson said.

By Tim Craig  |  July 14, 2008; 5:05 PM ET
Categories:  2009 Governor's Race , Brian J. Moran , Tim Craig  
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