Lobbyist confirmed for Loudoun health post
Despite an aggressive campaign to get her kicked off Loudoun's chief advisory health board, a lobbyist who worked against autism legislation last year in Richmond was confirmed Tuesday to a third term.
Her lobbying work against autism legislation during last year's General Assembly session caused Supervisor Stevens Miller (D-Dulles) to call for her ouster. The Loudoun County delegation to the Virginia General Assembly supported bills that, if enacted, would have required insurers to pay for therapy for children under the age of 6 who have been diagnosed with autism-spectrum disorders.
"Parent after parent of autistic children have come to me, asking for us and the Chamber to some gesture of compassion and send someone else to Richmond," Miller said Tuesday before the vote. "In my view, this person had a conflict of interest...It's an egregious insult and, if this person is confirmed, I will seek to have this seat removed from the Health Council."
Miller said he met with Williams as a supervisor last year to discuss autism legislation without her telling him she was a paid lobbyist against the bills.
"Had I known that, I would have chosen my words very differently," he said.
Miller has also used autism legislation as a chief component of his campaign for House delegate.
Supervisor Kelly Burk (D-Leesburg) said Williams's re-appointment to the volunteer position was "being used to raise an issue that's not there." She bluntly said Miller was using the debate as a political tool.
"This item uses the autistic community in a cruel and selfish manner," she said.
Supervisors Miller, Jim Burton (I-Blue Ridge), Andrea McGimsey (D-Potomac) and chairman Scott K. York (I-At Large) voted against Williams's re-appointment.
The legislation Williams lobbied against would have helped parents pay for often expensive therapy for their children, including applied behavior analysis. The Loudoun County Board of Supervisors, the Loudoun County School Board and the Leesburg Town Council supported it. Williams was lobbying on behalf of the Loudoun County Chamber of Commerce. Opponents, including the Chamber of Commerce, said such a mandate would bankrupt small businesses.
Several parents of autistic children have spoken out against Williams, calling her appointment to the board a "slap in the face" and a "hindrance" to their cause.
Her supporters, including Tony Howard, executive director of the Loudoun County Chamber of Commerce, said Williams is well regarded among her colleagues and is a leader in crafting the county's disease outbreak policy. He likened her lobbying work to that of a lawyer, saying that her critics were unfairly trying to connect her professional work with her personal views. Her other lobbying clients include the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, the Dulles Chamber of Commerce and the Virginia Business Council.
The council has six permanent members from county government agencies and at least 12 members representing health-care groups, businesses, churches and nonprofit organizations.
October 20, 2009; 5:10 PM ET
Categories: Loudoun County
Save & Share: Previous: Clinton: 'Governor Deeds' is 'the best choice'
Next: Supervisors: Loudoun County budget picture 'bad'
Posted by: barbara_munsey | October 21, 2009 8:01 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: NoraBett | October 22, 2009 12:07 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: barbara_munsey | October 22, 2009 12:18 PM | Report abuse
The comments to this entry are closed.