Majority Leader Valerie Longhurst

Valerie Longhurst was elected to the House in 2004 and became Majority Leader in 2012.  In January 2018, she accepted the position of Executive Director of the Delaware Police Athletic League (PAL) of Delaware. She served on the PAL Board for several years before that. The PAL Board which selected her included four former or current colleagues in the General Assembly.

Longhurst’s PAL salary is $84,000.  Those earnings are in addition to her salary as a State Representative.  She has not recused herself from voting on Grant in Aid or on the budgets of state agencies which provide increasingly generous funding for PAL Delaware.

The appropriateness of legislative leaders accepting nonprofit executive jobs has been challenged by advocates and journalists as representing obvious and significant conflicts of interest, but no official action has been taken.

Fertile Ground for Corruption

In 2013, the Center for Public Integrity published an article titled “State Legislators Ties to Nonprofits Prove Fertile Ground for Corruption”The article stated:

“Over the past few decades, state governments have increasingly outsourced many functions to community-based nonprofits in an attempt to provide more effective, flexible social services. But the result, some say, has been the creation of what is essentially another arm of government.

…in state after state, open records laws are laced with exemptions and part-time legislators and agency officials engage in glaring conflicts of interests and cozy relationships with lobbyists. Meanwhile, feckless, understaffed watchdogs struggle to enforce laws as porous as honeycombs.”

The phrase “laws as porous as honeycombs” certainly resonates in Delaware.  Click here for a review of Delaware’s ethics laws and how they fail to provide oversight for the Delaware General Assembly. 

The “Honor System” in Action

In response to a 2018 article in the Delaware State News which raised the conflict of interest issue for both Longhurst and Poore, Longhurst is quoted, “I don’t know if it’s a conflict of interest compared to anybody else that gets money through grant-in-aid and votes on bills.”  

Majority Leader Longhurst said she would not use her new position to advocate for PAL. When asked if she would abstain from voting on grant-in-aid, she said she would have to see and noted she has voted for grant-in-aid while serving on the nonprofit’s board for several years.”  Her justification is that her past practice justifies her failure to recuse in spite of statutes and rules to the contrary.

The article continued, “Rep. Longhurst said she was hired because of her volunteer work with PAL and her human resources background. Nobody handed me this job,” she said. “The job was publicly posted, and three or four other people expressed interest”. 

Nevertheless, Longhurst may have been on the inside track for this job.  The PAL Board which selected her included four former or current colleagues in the General Assembly including Bill Oberle, Roger Roy, Terry Spence and John ‘Larry’ Mitchell. 

Valerie Longhurst and the Police Athletic League (PAL)

The chart below presents PAL Delaware’s expenditure of state funds from FY 2018 through 1/30/2022.  Under Longhurst’s leadership, the agency more than doubled state expenditures during this period. 

Police Athletic League of Delaware–Total State Online Checkbook

FY 2018FY 2019FY 2020FY 2021FY 2022*
*Expenditures through 1/30/2022