Home The Augusta County 6 censured Scott Seaton last year: Is the censure still in effect?
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The Augusta County 6 censured Scott Seaton last year: Is the censure still in effect?

Chris Graham
Augusta County
(© Rex Wholster – stock.adobe.com)

The July 12, 2023, censure of Wayne District Supervisor Scott Seaton is technically no longer in force, due to a pesky intervening election in November, in which Seaton defeated a candidate backed by the group that censured him with more than two-thirds of the vote in his favor.

Technically no longer in force or not, the key effect of the censure – depriving Seaton, and thus residents of the Wayne District – of representation on a key regional planning body, is still very much active.

“During the 2023 censure of Dr. Seaton, Carolyn Bragg was appointed by the Board to fill Dr. Seaton’s position on the MPO. Ms. Bragg continues to serve on the MPO at the pleasure of the Board,” Augusta County government spokesperson Mia Kivlighan told AFP via email on Wednesday.

We had reached out earlier in the week to address the Seaton censure, and his removal from the MPO – the acronym is for the Staunton-Augusta-Waynesboro Metropolitan Planning Organization, a regional transportation planning organization that, according to its website, “provides support for multimodal transportation projects in our area.”

The board is made up of two representatives from each locality. Augusta County is represented by Bragg, who was appointed last spring to fill out the unexpired term of Steven Morelli, who resigned his South River seat amid allegations of sexual misconduct, on March 20, 2023, and by County Administrator Tim Fitzgerald.

The move to remove Seaton from the MPO board is part of the ongoing tit-for-tat between Seaton and the Augusta County 6, who have been trying to isolate Seaton for his criticism of the 6’s steadfast refusal to outfit county sheriff’s deputies with body cams, and for his push to address fees assessed by the regional animal shelter that were not authorized by state law or county ordinance.

The censure vote in July came after the 6 revealed that Seaton had been secretly recording closed meetings of the Board of Supervisors, including one held on March 20, hours after Morelli’s resignation, in which the resignation and its fallout were discussed behind closed doors.

An Augusta County Circuit Court judge has ordered the county to turn over a copy of the recording in response to lawsuits filed by AFP and Breaking Through Media.

Background: The back and forth between the AFP, Kivlighan on the effects of the censure

From: Chris Graham
Sent: Monday, January 29, 2024 1:16 PM
To: Mia Kivlighan
Subject: Question: Censure of Scott Seaton/committee assignments

A reader wrote me to ask this morning if I know the status of the committee assignments for Scott Seaton that were taken away by the BOS when it voted to censure him last summer.

I don’t know the answer, and I see from looking at the county website that the BOS is still a ways away from approving the minutes for the Jan. 3 meeting that I would assume would have included as an action item the committee assignments for the next two years.

Can you share with me the list of assignments for BOS members for 2024-2025, and if, as I assume, Scott was not given any committee assignments, how the majority of the BOS was able to do that?

It has been my working assumption that the censure passed last summer could only apply to the end of his then-current term, at the end of the calendar year 2023.

It would seem to stand to reason that a new censure vote would be necessary to continue whatever level of sanction it would carry with it with his new term beginning this year.

From: Mia Kivlighan
Sent: Wednesday, January 31, 2024 4:39 PM
To: Chris Graham
Subject: Question: Censure of Scott Seaton/committee assignments

The organizational meeting for the Board of Supervisors is a time for the board to elect the chair and vice-chair, approve rules of order and the meeting schedule, and adopt procedures. You can find the agenda for this year’s organizational meeting on January 3, 2024, on the archived meetings and agenda page, where the minutes, once approved, will also be available..

At the January 10, 2024, meeting, the board, per usual practice for the first regular meeting of the year, appointed supervisors to committees and commissions. You can find the 2024 board appointments attached. As you see from the yearly appointments, the changes predominantly reflect board changes in leadership, specifically in the chair and vice-chair positions.

The meeting bodies listed at the bottom of the page have their own by-laws. You will have to go to the individual websites for those regional boards and commissions to find the associated by-laws. For many of the commissions including CAPSAW and MPO, until the supervisor is no longer an elected official or until the Board of Supervisors chooses to change the appointment, the appointment remains.

The Board may choose to change appointments for a variety of reasons, including but not limited to adherence to state codes or commission by-laws pertaining to terms of office, individual preferences of supervisors, or terms of censure by the majority of the Board.

During the 2023 censure of Dr. Seaton, Carolyn Bragg was appointed by the Board to fill Dr. Seaton’s position on the MPO. Ms. Bragg continues to serve on the MPO at the pleasure of the Board.

Let me know if you have any additional questions.

Chris Graham

Chris Graham

Chris Graham is the founder and editor of Augusta Free Press. A 1994 alum of the University of Virginia, Chris is the author and co-author of seven books, including Poverty of Imagination, a memoir published in 2019, and Team of Destiny: Inside Virginia Basketball’s Run to the 2019 National Championship, and The Worst Wrestling Pay-Per-View Ever, published in 2018. For his commentaries on news, sports and politics, go to his YouTube page, or subscribe to his Street Knowledge podcast. Email Chris at [email protected].