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Virginia Beach sheriff confirms deputy attended U.S. Capitol rally, doubles down on denying delegate's husband's firing was retribution for raising issue

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Del. Kelly Convirs-Fowler, left, and Virginia Beach Sheriff Ken Stolle

Del. Kelly Convirs-Fowler, left, and Virginia Beach Sheriff Ken Stolle

Virginia Beach Sheriff Ken Stolle confirmed on Wednesday that a deputy who works in his office attended the Jan. 6 rally at the U.S. Capitol. But the sheriff denies that his reason for parting ways with another deputy — the husband of a Virginia Beach delegate — stemmed from the legislator raising concerns about the issue.

The confirmation comes after Democratic Del. Kelly Convirs-Fowler publicly alleged Tuesday that Stolle fired her husband in retaliation for her raising concerns with the sheriff’s office about a deputy seen in attendance at the rally.

Convirs-Fowler wrote on Twitter that she let Stolle know about a video a citizen shared with her showing a Virginia Beach sheriff’s deputy outside the U.S. Capitol that day. A copy of the minutelong video showing demonstrators outside of the Capitol was provided to The Pilot. The newspaper was not able to independently verify the identity of the deputy Convirs-Fowler said was in attendance that day.

“Did Stolle do anything?” Convirs-Fowler’s tweet said. “Yes! He fired my husband this morning. #detoxVB”

Convirs-Fowler and Stolle sparred on social media Tuesday evening about how the allegation was handled, with the delegate going as far as to post screenshots of messages exchanged between herself and Stolle, alleging that he hadn’t met with her to discuss the video despite her requests.

Stolle sought to clear the air on the deputy’s actions at the Capitol with an additional statement Wednesday morning. However, the sheriff declined to grant an interview or provide additional information, according to a sheriff’s office spokeswoman.

“I am aware of only one Virginia Beach Sheriff’s Office deputy who attended the rally,” Stolle posted on Twitter and Facebook. “He did not enter the Capitol.”

Stolle added that his office and the deputy cooperated with an FBI investigation “which cleared [the deputy] of any wrongdoing.”

Stolle said Convirs-Fowler contacted him saying she had information about a deputy at the Capitol, but didn’t provide it.

“Instead she decided to withhold the information and make a political issue out of it,” he wrote.

In an interview Wednesday, Convirs-Fowler said she wanted to show Stolle the video in person rather than sending it to avoid betraying the trust of the citizen, who asked her not to share the video with the public yet.

The sheriff said the delegate’s report was not the reason why he decided not to reappoint Sgt. W.D. Fowler, Convirs-Fowler’s husband, to a new four-year term. Fowler has been placed on administrative leave until the end of his current appointment, which is set to expire at the end of this year. All deputies’ terms are set to expire at the end of this year. They are subject to the sheriff’s renewal to determine whether they continue.

Stolle and Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Kathy Hieatt declined to explain why Fowler was put on administrative leave, calling it a personnel matter.

Hieatt also said the office doesn’t have an administrative leave policy.

“The Sheriff has the discretion to place appointees on paid or unpaid leave as he deems appropriate,” she wrote in an email.

Hieatt also would not provide information about the appointment procedures and if any other contracts were not renewed at the same time as Fowler’s. She directed The Pilot to Stolle’s Wednesday social media post on the matter.

“We aren’t going to have any further comment beyond that,” wrote Hieatt in a text message. “We’ve clearly addressed these allegations but the issue has gotten completely twisted and we’re not going to participate in the argument any further.”

Convirs-Fowler has challenged the Sheriff’s Office’s explanation. She said her husband was told “We don’t need you anymore,” after nearly 15 years of service with the office — during which time he was promoted twice under Stolle.

“I don’t know of anyone who’s ever not been re-sworn in,” Convirs-Fowler said. “Every four years when the sheriff wins their re-election, everybody just seems to have to sign a piece of paper and swear back in.”

The Pilot asked Sgt. Fowler for comment through his wife. The delegate said her husband will not provide comment until he receives further guidance from an attorney.

While acknowledging the sheriff may be legally able to release her husband, Convirs-Fowler said her biggest concern remains whether the video of the deputy present at the Capitol on Jan. 6 will be adequately addressed.

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