Byron Bailey and Herb De Groft recall, Isle of Wight County, Virginia (2013)

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Connected efforts to recall Byron Bailey and Herb De Groft from their respective positions as Vice-Chairman of the County Board of Supervisors and County School Board member in Isle of Wight County, Virginia was launched in May 2013. Both recall efforts were judicially invalidated.


In May 2013, private emails sent by Byron Bailey and Herb De Groft containing racially offensive jokes, including some about President Barack Obama and First-Lady Michelle Obama, were exposed by the county's NAACP chapter, which helped lead the recall efforts.[1]

Bailey was most recently elected in 2011 for a term lasting from 2012 to 2015. De Groft was most recently elected in 2009 for a term lasting from 2010 to 2013.[2][3]

Both men apologized for the offensive emails, but neither said they did anything illegal. Both refused to resign, though De Groft indicated he would not run for re-election in November 2013.[4][1]

Path to the ballot

See also: Laws governing recall in Virginia

On August 12, 2013, Phil Ferguson, the Commonwealth attorney handling the recall cases against Bailey and De Groft, determined there was a lack of grounds to continue the recall process against Bailey because the offensive emails were sent on private computers with private emails outside of public duties. Ferguson stated, "The facts were not sufficient to remove a supervisor under those facts. He was sending out inappropriate things, but that is not abusing your office and it didn't meet the criteria." Prior to that determination, recall supporters had gathered more than the required 238 signatures needed for Bailey's recall petition.[5][6][7]

In July Ferguson stopped the recall effort against De Groft because De Groft's petition was five valid signatures short of the 206 required under law for his petition. Virginia state code does not provide any procedures for cases when signature counts fall short of requirements. A court hearing was scheduled for September to rule on the matter, but case was dropped due to a lack of evidence similar to that in Bailey's recall case.[8][9][5]

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