A far-left prosecutor thwarted parents’ efforts to recall a school board member without disclosing major conflicts of interest, a court filing charges.
Parents in Fairfax County, Virginia, collected 5,100 signatures, meeting the threshold for hauling school board member Elaine Tholen into court for alleged neglect of duty, in part for keeping schools closed for a year. Under Virginia rules, it then falls to a prosecutor to argue before a judge that the elected official should be removed.
Steve Descano, Fairfax County’s elected prosecutor, recused himself citing conflicts of interest, including that he himself is facing a recall. However, unlike a true recusal, he selected his own replacement: Jim Hingeley, the prosecutor in Albemarle County across the state, with whom Descano founded the Virginia Progressive Prosecutors for Justice last year. Both men attained office with help from billionaire George Soros and have coordinated to use prosecutors’ offices to bring far-left policies to Virginia.
Hingeley simply dropped the case, declining to pursue taxpayers’ petition. But the lawyer had conflicts of interest more brazen than Descano’s, and unlike Descano, he hid them from the judge, a group behind the recall alleged.
Tholen ran for school board with the backing of the teachers’ union, and alongside the rest of the all-Democrat board, kept schools closed for nearly an entire year, consistent with teachers’ demands. That led to demands for a recall from parents calling themselves the Open FCPS Coalition.
But Fairfax did let kids go to school — if they paid extra. A program called “Support Returning to School” let kids sit in school buildings if their parents paid up to $1,472 per child per month. Hingeley’s wife, Rachel Flynn, was deputy county executive of Fairfax County and was involved in that program, according to the group’s filing, which asks a judge to allow the petitioners to appoint a private prosecutor to argue their case.
“Ms. Flynn was involved in the creation, operation, and oversight of the SRS Program that allowed able children to enter the school buildings this past year, for a fee, while special education children were left at home behind a screen because the buildings were deemed unsafe for their occupancy by the school board, including Ms. Tholen. If Mr. Hingeley chose to prosecute this case, his wife’s decisions in operating the SRS Program would likely come into question and could affect her employment. This creates a financial incentive for Mr. Hingeley to not prosecute the case,” the motion said.
In addition, Hingeley was also a school board member in the 1980s and faced demands for his removal from that position. He also “campaigned alongside” Tholen during their 2019 elections, even sharing the stage at least one Democratic event, the motion said.
Hingely misled parents into thinking he would try their case, it said.
“On August 11, Mr. Hingeley met with some of the parents who had painstakingly collected all those signatures. He assured them he would take this matter seriously and asked that they collect materials for him to review and use at trial. Those parents went back and scoured their emails, looked for documents, interviewed witnesses, collected multitudes of valuable information to present to Mr. Hingeley, but it was all for naught. He never reviewed the materials. He never wanted them.”
“On August 20, 2021, Mr. Hingeley stood before this Court and moved to dismiss the case. He claimed that he had conducted his own investigation and determined the case did not have merit, but that was a farce. Mr. Hingeley’s role was to kill this litigation before it even started.”
“Before the Court is a textbook case of prosecutorial bias,” the motion said. “The Court lacked critical information needed to decide the motion that was explicitly withheld by Mr. Descano and Mr. Hingeley. It was unethical for Mr. Hingeley to represent the Commonwealth due to numerous, explicit biases, and he should have recused himself.”
Hingeley did not return a request for comment from The Daily Wire.
According to the American Bar Association, the motion says, “In situations where ‘partisan or political or personal considerations’ are such that it can affect a prosecutor’s impartially, the prosecutor is ethically obligated to recuse himself.”
That includes “implicit bias,” which both prosecutors have claimed plays a large role in the criminal justice system.
In 2019, Descano narrowly unseated a Democrat incumbent in the primary after receiving $400,000 in help from George Soros’ political action committee, the Justice & Safety PAC — nearly twice the amount the incumbent, Ray Morrogh, raised in total.
Morrogh quit the party as a result, saying Descano was not a traditional Democrat but a far-left radical. Descano
“is completely unqualified for the office of commonwealth attorney,” he said in a video. “The only case he tried, he disgraced himself when the judge reversed the conviction because [he] lied in closing argument. This man is not fit to hold office in Fairfax County.”
Soros’ PAC also backed Hingeley, who has a similar worldview.
Next month, a similar situation will play out in Loudoun County, which borders Fairfax. Beth Barts, who is facing recall in part for her involvement in a secret Facebook group whose members threatened to “hack” parents and which a sheriff’s investigation found targeted those who wanted schools open, has prosecution fall to commonwealth attorney Buta Biberaj — herself a member of that Facebook group. Biberaj narrowly unseated a Republican incumbent in 2019 after Soros spent an unprecedented $845,000 on her behalf. The incumbent raised $113,000.
It remains to be seen whether parents will get to choose their own prosecutor for that case, or whether Biberaj will take it herself or choose her own replacement.