How Glenn Youngkin Became Governor of Virginia
Everybody has heard the bit about a butterfly flapping its wings in China changing world history, somehow. That is roughly how Glenn Youngkin, a private equity financial operator who sends his kids to school in Maryland, got himself elected governor of Virginia in 2021.
Most of what I know about this comes from the newly-issued report of a Grand Jury staged by the new Republican attorney-general, another beneficiary of the butterfly effect in question here. The report states explicitly that it does not include all the evidence and information gathered but is intended to convey “high level thoughts.” I have to say there are highs and lows therein, but in this note I have to rely on what the report provides.
It started in May of 2021 near the end of the school year when a student at Stone Bridge High School in Loudoun County allegedly had sex with a girlfriend in the school bathroom, where they had arranged to meet. To be sure, under the law this was rape, full stop. The girl herself reported it as rape, which suggests the encounter was not fun. Still and all, she was underage and it’s the law. Rape is rape.
The county superintendent Scott Ziegler and his minions were on top of this immediately, visiting the school the same day. The same goes for the deputies of the county sheriff, Mike Chapman. At that point, the wheels of school administration, law enforcement, and justice began to grind, but very slowly.
The other flap of the wings came when a LCPS bureaucrat labeled the affair an “8040 matter.” 8040 is an anodyne, inoffensive policy enacted by the Loudoun County School Board (SB) affirming the rights of transgender students. The 8040 bit evidently arose because the assault occurred in a girls’ bathroom, and because the assailant was rumored to be “wearing a skirt.” The Grand Jury report has testimony indicating that it was not a skirt, it was a kilt. Now, I could be dressed like Carmen Miranda or Ru Paul, and it would not mean I am transgender.
The offender was subsequently transferred to another local high school, Broad Run, wearing an ankle monitoring bracelet. One would have thought that his arrival would have triggered a heightened level of supervision at BRHS, but somehow between the machinations of the LCPS bureaucrats, the county sheriff, and BRHS leaders, in October the student assaulted a second girl in an empty classroom. There was nothing about skirts or bathrooms. Then the shit hit the fan, just in time for statewide elections in November.
The Grand Jury recounts a chain of muddled responses by both the public school bureaucracy and the county sheriff. Sorting that out is beyond the scope of this note, except to note that the evidence was damning enough to oblige the school board to dismiss its superintendent. Sheriff Mike Chapman is elected. Nobody can fire him; his fate will be up to the voters. (Louisa County Chief of Police Craig Buckley has emerged as a challenger.)
The politicized environment in which this all took place makes firmer conclusions uncertain. The new Republican state attorney-general and his local allies have been hammering this Democratic county’s Democratic office-holders on a variety of fronts, in keeping with the new Republican rule that when they lose an election, a do-over is called for. The report skates over the role of the office of the county sheriff, another Republican.
The role of the majority-Democrat county school board is not clear. The Grand Jury stated it failed to find evidence to charge any of them with a crime, not the most ringing endorsement one might wish for. It also failed to find any evidence of coordinated obstruction between the LCSB and its administration. While the SB did make efforts to find out more about the first assault, information was slow and limited in coming from their own administrative leaders. At the same time, the School Board is responsible for the performance of its subordinates. The failure of the administration to inform the SB is also the failure of the SB to make sure it knows what the hell is going on.
The SB’s cooperation with the Grand Jury may also have been withheld. A Federalist account betrays its Trumpist bias by characterizing the SB’s counsel as “obstructionist,” and then equating it to “witness tampering.” The Grand Jury report itself hints at witness tampering. Well, a few things about that. First, it’s a lawyer’s job to be obstructionist. Second, “obstructionism” is not a crime. If it was, the Grand Jury could have indicted somebody. It indicted nobody.
What is incontrovertible is that the entire transgender panic springing from this alleged crime was utterly unfounded, if not an insult to the intelligence. Yet the spectacle of high school girls assaulted in their bathrooms by teenage pervs reduced Loudoun County’s Democratic margin from 56,284 when Biden won the county in 2020, to a lesser margin of 17,927 in 2021. At the same time, GY and company won the governor race by 63,688 votes. So yes, if in 2021 Youngkin did no better than Trump in 2020, other things exactly equal, he would still have won.
I’ve been saying ad nauseum that this county has meaning in the Grand Scheme of Things. The absence of the transgender/Critical Race Theory panics in Loudoun (and fallout in neighboring Democratic stronghold Fairfax County) would arguably have made the difference, and Terry McAuliffe would be governor of a purple state that national Democrats can ill afford to give up.
Getting back to the 90 page report, there is an expressed desire for school authorities to control what students put on their Chromebooks. This betrays understandable technological naivete. Kids are good at evading supervision, and there will always be apps designed to help them.
Another bit worth mentioning, after the initial assault an understandably outraged father went to his daughter’s school. He was sufficiently distraught for the school authorities to enlist the sheriff’s deputies and have him removed. This was described in the report as disproportionate treatment, compared to the student assailant being at-large in the school for hours.
Allowing a parent in this situation to go vigilante inside a public school really goes against any notion of law and order. The martyrdom implied by the Grand Jury’s report, combined with its gentle treatment of Sheriff Chapman, and its admission of not providing all the information it has gathered, does reduce confidence in the entire enterprise.