Fired Fairfax Co. elections head sues after drug charges dropped

The Fairfax County Courthouse is seen. (WTOP/Max Smith)

The top Fairfax County elections official abruptly fired just before Virginia’s midterm primaries last year, who was then charged with felony drug offenses, is now suing the county’s electoral board for $750,000.

The drug distribution charges filed against Cameron Sasnett last year were dropped by prosecutors last week, apparently due to his cooperation with a broader investigation.

Sasnett had been accused of possession of methamphetamine, possession of GHB and distribution of methamphetamine.

The electoral board told WTOP last year that Sasnett’s arrest, a few weeks after he was fired, had nothing to do with his termination, and they were not aware of any potential drug-related issues at work. The board instead said Sasnett was fired due to issues with how the Office of Elections was being managed, including clashes with the electoral board and state elections officials.

Now, Sasnett is challenging the board’s authority to fire him at all.

A copy of a lawsuit against the electoral board filed Tuesday in Fairfax County Circuit Court alleges that the board intentionally violated Virginia law by wrongfully firing Sasnett over disagreements about state law and elections policies.

In April 2018, the board sent Sasnett a letter raising a series of serious concerns with Sasnett’s performance. At the end of May, the board sent him a letter firing him due to a “continued failure to address the concerns previously raised on multiple occasions…and for additional reasons.”

Sasnett’s $750,000 lawsuit does not detail those reasons, but he argues the accusations “were inaccurate and, for the most part, untrue. Rather, they were a pretext for removing Sasnett based on a difference of opinion relating to the legality of certain election issues.”

Sasnett had been outspoken about what he believed to be violations of Virginia law tied to state voter registration and other processes. He argues that the electoral board did not provide proper notice or sufficient cause to fire him under Virginia law.

“The board failed to tie Sasnett’s termination to any alleged violation of a statutory duty,” the lawsuit said.

The applicable statute says the board “by a recorded majority vote may remove from office, on notice, any general registrar or officer of election who fails to discharge the duties of his office according to law.”

Had he not been fired, Sasnett’s first four-year term as general registrar would have expired this month.

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