After a similar request for documents on Mayor Sessoms’ status on conflict of interest opinions were released, he had a similar problem as Wilson. He operated legally, but the deals to the lay person smacked of conflict of interest - use of his political and professional position to foster private gain from public actions.
As a banker, he didn’t specifically benefit from certain questionable deals as mayor, but his income, benefits, and bonuses were directly affected by the ultimate outcome of the deals he public was involved with. Nevertheless he was cleared to be involved.
The ordinary citizen, however, would ask him or herself, “Could I have obtained the same income and result as Wilson and Sessoms, if I had asked the same favors or actions?”
Most would conclude they would not or could not have had to access to the similar income without holding the position of Wilson or Sessoms.
In those cases, ordinary citizens would conclude the pair are in conflict despite the ‘finer’ points of the law - the perceptions - made by the city attorney.
Wilson requested 4 opinions from the city attorney that were considered ‘public’ and on the record. There were 13 other opinions issued, that were requested of the city attorney. His office said they could be withheld under attorney-client privilege - a questionable ruling that Virginia News Source had prepared to challenge in court for adjudication.
Wilson, however, told the city attorney to release all opinions to VNS and the public under VNS’ request.
You can read all the opinions, sought by Wilson, details and why and, the attorneys’ conclusions here:
All of the opinions were requested while Wilson worked as a Realtor with Prudential Decker Real Estate between 2000 and 2005.
Since then she has associated with Prudential Towne Bank Real Estate a subsidiary of Towne Bank. Mayor Sessoms is president of Towne Bank, although he changes his title occasionally to avoid certain legal problems.
Wilson hasn’t requested any opinions or apparently felt she might be in conflict in any of her dealings since September 2005.
Most of the cases in which she sought legal guidance involved development deals, Edmund Ruffin and Bruce Thompson projects along the oceanfront, Town Center, and F. Wayne McLeskey’s Pleasure House Point land.
Of most of the 17 rulings sought, she was found to have a personal interest in many of the deals, but required to not participate in only 3 cases.
Most of the cases involved her husband, a principle in Goodman and Company a major Tidewater accounting company, which got some contracts for accounting services in Norfolk and Virginia Beach after Wilson was elected to council. He was employed by them and received compensation in each case in excess of $10,000 a year - the conflict of interest threshold.
Her position provided good access and good clients for her husband’s company, but she was able to technically avoid conflict of interest.
She was first elected to council in 2000 and has been considered a compliant cohort of the mayor and the ruling establishment on development issues, budget, tax, and fee issues.
She has effectively voted for every tax and fee and every tax and fee increase since 2000. Seeking re-election to her at-large seat, she is opposed by Conservative Coalition and former chairman of the Virginia Beach GOP city chairman, Kenny Golden.
Golden is a retired Navy aviator with 5,000 flight hours under his belt and numerous awards and educational achievements.
He has been highly critical of reckless spending on special interest projects by the City Council, resulting in increasing taxes and municipal mismanagement.
Most recently he has criticized exposure that the Virignia Economic Development Authority has fraudulently spent $700,000 in tax dollars secretly to fund courting of a sport arena operator and NBA team.
Golden has called for an investigation into whether any criminal acts were committed in the unapproved, unaccounted for, unmanaged expenditures.
Kempsville District council candidate, former Councilman Don Weeks earlier had called for an investigation by the Commonwealth’s Attorney and the FBI’s government corruption division.
The secret deal and expenditure was closely held by a few councilmen for more than a year before being publicly disclosed. Remainder of the council was treated like mushrooms and left in the dark.
Mayor Sessoms blatantly lied about his knowledge until the full disclosure of the facts was made public.
Now he and vice mayor Louis Jones and the city attorney are pooh-poohing the lack of disclosure as an ‘OVERSIGHT,’ and nothing serious to be concerned with despite the large amount and fact there was no oversight on the spending of the funds.
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