Seaton Turns to DOJ: The Explosive Tapes That Might Rock Augusta County's Leadership
Written by: Sam Orlando
Augusta County - Last night's Augusta County Board of Supervisors meeting, held on Wednesday, August 9, saw Supervisor Scott Seaton presenting his contentious recordings of executive sessions to the County FOIA Officer. Alongside the recordings were associated FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) requests and, intriguingly, communications which Seaton described as being "with the Department of Justice."
In a comprehensive statement, Seaton fervently expressed the necessity for transparency across all levels of government, underlining the value of body and dash cameras for deputies to fortify public confidence. He praised local deputies for their unwavering dedication and professionalism, and criticized his fellow supervisors, a majority of whom voted to kill body cameras from the County budget.
Taking a firm stance, Seaton chastised other board members for their lack of transparency and specifically alleged the remainder of the Board of engaging in whistleblower retaliation, potentially a federal offense. Seaton further alluded to other "illegal activities" that the recordings of the closed board meetings would unveil.
However, the most surprising revelation in his comments was his disclosure about having communicated with the Department of Justice regarding these recordings. These tapes, chronicling closed meetings, have been a hotbed of debate. Seaton's decision to submit them to the County was framed both as a statutory obligation and as a morally upright act. Seaton's disclosure that he has communicated about them with the Department of Justice saw a significant increase in surprise and stress levels from the other Board members.
Officer Jenifer Wetzel was handed the recordings and the accompanying FOIA requests during the meeting. The county is to determine if any of these tapes, such as those from the meetings on March 20th and June 2nd, 2023, will be made public. Seaton opined that elected representatives shouldn't be privy to the same privacy considerations as county staff. He stressed that any release decision for the recordings would eventually be adjudicated by a judge, especially if challenges arise. Seaton's comments on the differential treatment between employees and elected representatives seem to hinge on the sexual harassment allegations that culminated in the resignation of former Board member Steve Morelli, which happened to occur on March 20th.
Asserting his stance, Seaton proclaimed, "The public deserves to hear some of these meetings." He affirmed his restraint from releasing any recordings independently and expressed his faith in the system's appropriate management of the issue.
While the recordings' content remains under wraps, Seaton's references to "illegal activities" and calls for change in county leadership speak to the need for a thorough investigation of just what is happening in the Augusta County Board of Supervisors. In closing, the Supervisor voiced the need for local government re-education on citizen rights, underscoring the public's yearning for a more responsive and transparent governance model.
A defining moment of the meeting was the Chair's endeavor to cut off Seaton as he delved into the county's purported unlawful animal fees. This intervention only intensified the discourse, accentuating the overarching narrative of transparency and accountability. Seaton was permitted to finish his statement.
The ramifications of this volatile meeting are yet to unfold. The community's reactions, along with the responses from the board and the county, remain to be seen. Supervisor Scott Seaton's unyielding dedication to transparency and accountability is plainly obvious, and he beckons the community to hold both himself and the board accountable.
Breaking Through News reached out to the United States Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI), seeking confirmation on the receipt of the recordings and possible federal investigations targeting county leadership. As of this publication, our queries remain unanswered. We pledge to keep our readers updated on this pivotal story as more information comes to light.