According to a review by American Ledger, previously unreported campaign finance filings show that Virginia State Sen. Bill DeSteph received $10,000 in campaign contributions from construction magnate, JES Construction, after allegedly leading the charge to remove the regulatory authority disciplining the organization for inadequate business practices.
In January 2019, Virginia Mercury News reported that DeSteph sent more than a dozen emails to administrators at the Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation (DPOR), demanding the organization drop their case against JES Construction for failing to obtain building permits and failing safety inspections. DeSteph even went as far as demanding that the DPOR direct all communications in regards to the investigation of JES Construction to his office.
The DPOR ignored DeSteph’s emails, and levied a $5,000 fine against JES Construction.
Angered by the move, DeSteph allegedly took aim at the DPOR’s leader, Jay DeBoer, who was first appointed to lead the organization by former Gov. Tim Kaine in 2006. And in January 2019, the Virginia Senate Privileges & Elections Committee denied Jay DeBoer’s re-appointment as DPOR Director. DeSteph is a member of that committee. Shortly after DeBoer’s removal from the DPOR, JES coincidentally funnelled an additional $10,000 into DeSteph’s current reelection efforts.
While the committee did not give reason for the decision to remove DeBoer’s name for consideration of re-appointment, several lawmakers privately indicated they believed DeSteph was the reason for DeBoer’s removal. In January 2019, the Richmond-Times Dispatch noted DeSteph’s criticism of DeBoer in an article investigating why DeBoer was conspicuously removed as head of the DPOR.
JES Construction has a long history of supporting DeSteph’s electoral efforts in Virginia. Before DeSteph aggressively targeted DeBoer, JES and other allied organizations had donated $12,000 (here, here, and here) to DeSteph’s various election efforts.
Critics are likely to argue DeSteph’s continued support from JES Construction is the reason he targeted the oversight authority that was attempting to hold the construction business accountable for malpractice.
In November, DeSteph is running for reelection to represent Virginia’s 8th State Senate District.