* Another of George Soros’ far-left Attorney Generals
* Pledges to discard “Tough on Crime” policies
* Favors illegal immigration
* He decided to not prosecute 22 felonies and misdemeanors
* Crime rose dramatically after he won the election
* There were two recall efforts undertaken in 2021 to remove him from office
Born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and raised in Delaware, Steve Descano graduated in 1998 from the prestigious Salesianum School in the city of Wilmington. He credits then-Delaware Senator Joe Biden for having provided his required congressional nomination for admission to the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, New York, from which Descano graduated with a B.S. degree in 2002. Descano then served in the U.S. Army as a helicopter pilot from 2002-2004, and later earned a J.D. degree from the Temple University School of Law in 2010.
From 2010-2016, Descano resided in Fairfax County, Virginia and served as a Special Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Department of Justice under President Barack Obama. His work as a federal prosecutor focused heavily on financial crimes as well as offenses targeting “vulnerable populations” such as “immigrants and the elderly.”
After moving to Virginia in 2010, Descano became heavily involved with leftwing activist groups. Fairfax County, like much of Northern Virginia, was becoming increasingly committed to leftist politics after decades of Republican dominance. Descano joined the Fairfax County Democratic Committee in 2015; was a Board of Directors member with NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia from 2016-2018; served on the Fairfax County Police Review Panel from 2017-2018; and sat on the Fairfax County NAACP‘s Criminal Justice Committee from 2016-2018.
Descano left the public sector in 2016 to become the Chief Operating Officer and General Counsel for Paragon Autism Services in the Northern Virginia city of Fredericksburg.
On November 30, 2018, Descano announced his candidacy for the position of Commonwealth’s Attorney (C.A.) in Fairfax County – the equivalent of what is called a District Attorney in most other U.S. states. His campaign received endorsements from such notable individuals as Eric Holder, Terry McAuliffe, Tim Kaine, Don Beyer, and Mark Herring, as well as organizations like New Virginia Majority, People for the American Way, Real Justice, Our Revolution (Northern Virginia chapter), and CASA in Action (the political arm of CASA de Mayland).
Vowing to “discard the tough-on-crime approach that has failed to address the root causes of crime, in favor of a holistic approach that builds up our communities and makes them safe,” Descano described the scheduled C.A. election of 2019 as “a choice between submitting to the politics of fear or fighting for justice.” He ran on what he termed a “progressive” agenda of “reform,” which his campaign website outlined as follows:
Descano won the Democratic primary by a slim margin (51% to 49%) in June 2019. Fully $459,212 of the $647,000 in total contributions to his campaign came from one organization: the Justice and Public Safety PAC (JPSPAC), which in turn received most of its funding from two sources: (a) the leftist multibillionaire George Soros, and (b) a group called Democracy PAC, which derived most of its funding from the same George Soros. Another $75,000 in contributions to Descano’s campaign came from the candidate’s own parents.
On the strength of the massive infusion of JPSPAC money into his campaign just before the Democratic primary, Descano defeated the more moderate candidate and longtime incumbent, Ray Morrogh, who had raised just $254,324 with no donations exceeding $10,000. Calling Descano “completely unqualified for the office of Commonwealth Attorney,” Morrogh said: “The only case he tried, he disgraced himself when the judge reversed the conviction because [he] lied in closing argument. This man is not fit to hold office in Fairfax County. I’ve dedicated 36 years of my life to keeping you safe in Fairfax County, and I’ve never asked for anything. But I love my country, I love this county, and I believe in public safety. I’m asking you, vote for [Republican] Jonathan Fahey for all the victims in this county.” Warning that a Descano victory in the November general election could have catastrophic consequences vis-a-vis public safety, Morrogh, disgusted by Descano’s radicalism, went so far as to quit the Democratic Party.
Descano easily defeated Fahey in the general election, securing 61% of the vote. Of the roughly $800,000 in contributions Descano had received for the primary and general election campaigns combined, no less than $601,369 came directly from Soros’ JPSPAC.
Descano was officially sworn in as Commonwealth’s Attorney for Fairfax County and Fairfax City, Virginia in January 2020.
Within days of assuming office, Descano authored a Washington Post opinion piece declaring that he would no longer prosecute “simple possession” of marijuana—defying both federal and state law at the time. Asserting that “prosecuting adults for simple possession of marijuana is not in line with the priorities of our community,” he claimed that such laws “disproportionately affect people of color” and result in “individuals having a criminal record that can never be expunged.”
Another early barometer of Descano’s approach to criminal justice was the case of a man named Mark Lawlor, who, one day a dozen years earlier, had broken into the Falls Church, Virginia apartment of a 29-year-old woman named Genevieve Orange. Brutalizing her with unrestrained savagery, Lawlor struck his victim 47 times with either a claw hammer or a frying pan, fractured her skull in multiple places, and raped her while she lay on the floor, choking to death on her own blood. At Lawlor’s original trial, his defense attorney did not contest the man’s guilt, but merely asked for a sentence of life-in-prison-without-parole rather than capital punishment. The Fairfax County prosecutor at that time sought a death sentence, and the jury that convicted Lawlor sentenced him to die. But when a federal court sent the case back for resentencing in March 2020, Descano, the new Commonwealth’s Attorney, refused to seek the death penalty — even as the victim’s surviving family members begged him to pursue capital punishment for the killer.
In July 2020, Descano, a member and co-founder of the leftist organization Virginia Progressive Prosecutors for Justice, collaborated with other Soros-backed prosecutors to co-author a letter urging the state legislature to pursue “meaningful systemic change within criminal justice and policing.” Some key excerpts:
In August 2020, Descano’s office released a list of specific crimes that it would no longer seek to prosecute, citing a lack of funding and a massive backlog of cases due to COVID-related issues. These crimes included, among others:
In December 2020, a Heritage Foundation report produced a much longer list crimes that Descano’s office had decided to stop prosecuting. That list, as laid out by Heritage, read as follows:
In 2021, two separate recall efforts to remove Descano from office were initiated. The first, which began in April 2021, was led by the organization Stand Up Virginia, whose president stated: “After failed attempts for almost a year imploring our local legislators to rein in his power through budget reductions, we now know that victims and their parents are being dismissed, silenced, and denigrated by Mr. Descano…. We are placing his removal in the hands of our citizens by launching a recall petition to ensure everyone is aware of the egregious nature of his actions.”
The second recall initiative was launched in August 2021 by Virginians for Safe Communities. One member of that organization, Sean Kennedy, said: “We are launching this campaign to hold accountable the prosecutors who have taken office under a writ of reform but have gone too far…. They are continuing to flout the rule of law, failing to enforce the law and are endangering our families and communities.”
In response to the initial recall attempt, Descano stated dismissively: “When I took office I promised our community I would hold police accountable and reform our criminal justice system…. While this work is far from done, we have made considerable progress—and transformative change often elicits fringe backlash.”
With regard to the second recall effort, Descano said: “It’s no surprise that far-right ideologues seek to obstruct the reforms my team is implementing by engaging in a Trump-style effort to undermine the will of Fairfax County voters.”
In September 2021, Descano stirred further controversy when he selected Jim Hingeley — a Soros-backed attorney and co-founder (with Descano) of Virginia Progressive Prosecutors for Justice (VPPJ) — to handle a high-profile case in which Fairfax County parents had secured enough petition signatures to remove a Democrat named Elaine Tholen from the local school board on allegations of “neglect-of-duty.” Because the parents had been able to compile the requisite number of signatures (5,100) to initiate the recall process, they were legally entitled to have the Commonwealth’s Attorney argue on their behalf. But Descano, who had close personal and professional ties to Tholen, recused himself from the case, citing conflicts of interest which included the fact that he himself was the target of an active recall effort. But contrary to standard recusal practice, Descano named his own hand-picked replacement, Hingeley, who likewise had close personal and professional ties to Tholen (and to Descano). Soon thereafter, Hingeley, after assuring Fairfax parents that he would painstakingly review their complaints against Tholen and would take the matter seriously, abruptly announced that he was dropping the case altogether – precisely the outcome that Descano himself would have wanted.
In 2021, Descano, who has described abortion bans as an “Orwellian infringement” on women’s rights, signed a petition to keep Roe v. Wade instated and to help block Texas’ so-called “heartbeat bill,” a state law that banned abortion procedures after the detection of embryonic or fetal cardiac activity, which normally occurs after approximately six weeks of pregnancy.
In September 2021, Descano negotiated a deal with Oscar Zaldivar, a convicted child molester who had sexually abused a young girl on perhaps hundreds of separate occasions when she was between 5 and 10 years old. As a result of this agreement, the offender, who originally had been sentenced to life-in-prison, received a maximum of just 17 years behind bars — with the potential for an even shorter sentence, in light of the fact that Virginia had recently expanded the time credit that many inmates were able to get for good behavior and participation in counseling and education programs. After Descano had finished cutting his deal with Zaldivar, the judge presiding over the case reportedly said to the sobbing victim, “Make no mistake…. Your government has failed you.” Descano shrugged off the judge’s remarks as nothing more than “inappropriate … political statements from the bench.”
In December 2021, Descano objected to an opinion piece in which Virginia’s newly-elected Republican Attorney General, Jason Miyares, asserted that prosecutors should (a) place the welfare of crime victims and law-abiding citizens ahead of the welfare of criminals, and (b) never reduce criminal charges against a child rapist — an obvious reference to the Zaldivar case. Asserting that Miyares, in his op-ed, had given “a master class on how to show your ass,” Descano said: “He again proves he doesn’t understand the drivers of crime or the effects of the discredited policies he wants to implement. And as always, he’s willing to use victims as political props in the most disgusting way.”
“Almost two and a half years ago, I took my oath of office as prosecutor and swore to protect my community from those who broke the law. The real threat, I now realize, may stem from those who write the law.
“If the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade, the rights of thousands of Virginia women will be thrown into question. While the commonwealth does not have an abortion ban on the books, our governor has said that he is ‘staunchly, unabashedly’ against abortion and fully committed to ‘going on the offense’ against abortion rights in our legislature. Should Roe fall, he could well strip women of their reproductive rights — and go after thousands more who flock to the state whenever neighboring jurisdictions clamp down on abortion access. […]
“So when the court’s draft decision overturning Roe v. Wade was leaked earlier this month, I committed to never prosecute a woman for making her own health care decisions. That means that no matter what the law in Virginia says, I will not prosecute a woman for having an abortion or for being suspected of inducing one.”
A proponent of strict gun-control measures, Descano has ridiculed gun-rights advocates as “dopes” who “cower” to the National Rifle Association. “We need to get rid of assault rifles,” he stated in late May 2022. “We need expanded background checks. If we are going to take things seriously, we have to go where the problem is. The problem is the guns.”
Descano supports “gender-affirming care” — i.e., voluntary castration and/or mutilation — for minors identifying as transgender. He says he is “sickened” by attorneys general who consider such procedures to be “child abuse.”
When President Biden nominated Ketanji Brown Jackson in February 2022 to replace the retiring Stephen Breyer on the U.S. Supreme Court, Descano tweeted: “A wonderful choice. Besides Judge Jackson’s stellar qualifications, she is a former public defender. Having that experience on the Court is important because the public increasingly recognizes the need for #criminaljustice reform and bad-faith actors try to undermine that reform.”
Meet Steve Descano, the Rogue Prosecutor Whose Policies Are Wreaking Havoc in Fairfax County, Virginia
By Zack Smith and Charles “Cully” Stimson
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