There’s always something to howl about

Can Loudoun County Assessor Todd Kaufman tell me what to say and not to say?

Can Loudoun County Assessor Todd Kaufman Tell Me What to Say and Not Say? Sure he can. There is no law anywhere in America that says Todd Kaufman’s rules about what Realtors writing Kaufman's Oversized Haloon a blog should not write have to be limited to Loudoun County residents (Realtors). Some people don’t even know who Todd Kaufman is and that is going to change. Fast. Todd
Kaufman (for those who just got off the banana boat) is the County Assessor for Loudoun County Virgina. Todd didn’t like what Realtor Danilo Bogdanovic wrote on his blog and attempted to shut Danilo up by making stupid threats about ethics complaints and possible legal action.

Near the end, Todd included the following in his Threat Letter to Danilo:

The Office of the County Attorney, the management team of your office, the Chairman of the NVAR, and the Chairman and CEO of the Dulles Area Association of Realtors are copied in this correspondence.

I like it. A lot. It puts Danilo on notice that Todd isn’t to be trifled with, not even a little bit. Todd had already fired this salvo:

I will address that issue through the process provided by the NAR if the misleading information is not immediately removed from your site.

Was what Danilo Bogdanovic posted on his blog about the amount of property tax that should be collected correct? I don’t know. I don’t care. If Danilo was in error then the right thing to do is to (with specifics, please)  correct the error with factual information. Pretty simple, really. Not to Todd Kaufman. No, Todd starts off by making threats.

Good news for Todd Kaufman. I believe that if Todd Kaufman has the right (duty?) to keep Danilo in line, he owes that to me and the rest of you reading this, as well. If Todd is going to threaten Danilo and his broker with legal action or complaints to the NAR, I want him to threaten me that way too. In fact, I insist on it. He wants to accuse Danilo and his broker of being “unprofessional” per the NAR Code of Ethics – well how about ME? Just the pictures I am posting in this post ought to qualify me for a Threat From Todd (TFT) ™ too. If the picture above didn’t do it for you, Todd, try this one.Kaufman Horse's Ass 2

Is calling you a horse’s ass unprofessional? Does that violate the Code of Ethics? Will you write to me or my broker with a TFT? If so, here is my contact information. Send your Shut Up Letter to me there.

There actually is something else you might want to consider. An apology to Danilo. A public (and sincere) apology. You owe him one. If you are man enough to admit you were in the wrong and step up and openly admit you were out of line to write the letters / emails that you have written and sent – you have a clean way out of this. Otherwise, I have to conclude that not only were you in the wrong to make snide comments and threats but that to start off that way tells me something. One of three things is true here. 1. You personally have something to hide, which is why you didn’t want any posts blathering about tax rates. 2., you are a self-important moron. Number 3., is you come to your senses and recant. That is what smart and decent people do when they are wrong. They don’t go on trying to “be right”. They just do right.

Related posts:
  • Todd Kaufman: More bad news.
  • Loudoun County Tax Assessor Todd Kaufman has a friend…
  • Attention Loudoun County Tax Assessor Todd Kaufman and friends:


    37 Comments so far

    1. Greg Swann December 31st, 2007 7:07 am

      An addendum from the corner office:

      Mr. Kaufman:

      I knew Russell Shaw was going to do this, not because he told me but because I know Russell. It is only fair that you understand that BloodhoundBlog will back Russell with all the resources, moral certitude and rhetorical dudgeon we can bring to bear.

      I have zero doubt that Russell is right about your having overstepped the legal boundaries of your position. You have no right to demand that a web publisher remove content from his pages — nor does anyone in America have that right. George Mason writhes in shame at your behavior.

      I have zero doubt that Russell is right about the NAR Code of Ethics, which exists to protect specific named parties in real estate transactions, not to cover the evermore exposed backside of a pompous functionary.

      The point of this note — and I was happy to leave this fight to the Virginians, where the spirit of George Mason lives on in many brave souls — is that you will find no comfort in your threats and bluster at BloodhoundBlog. We will, if you like, do everything we can to make you famous — though probably not in the way you might have dreamed of being famous.

      It’s a new world, Mr. Kaufman. No more secrets, no more lies, no more behind-the-scenes maneuvering, no more back-room deals. Everything is out in the open. It were well, I should think, for you to make your peace with the First Amendment and get back to the work the people of Loudon County are paying you to do. But if you’re spoiling for a fight, we won’t back down.

      Greg Swann

    2. Jay Thompson December 31st, 2007 7:41 am

      Russell – you are brilliant. I was considering penning a post about this. May still do it. I was leaning toward “arrogant jerk” and/or “pompous ass” as Mr. Kaufman’s moniker, but I kinda like horse’s ass…

    3. Jim Duncan December 31st, 2007 8:21 am

      It is a Brave New World, indeed.

    4. Bob in San Diego December 31st, 2007 8:22 am

      Well done Russell.

    5. Cathleen Collins December 31st, 2007 9:05 am

      As soon as you asked for the assessor’s name, I knew you were up to this, Russell. Excellent! I especially like your last point. People can always chose to amend their bad behavior.

    6. Robert Kerr December 31st, 2007 10:20 am

      A classic! The more I read you, Russ, the more I like you.

      ps: Greg, BHB’s captchas appear to be disabled.

    7. Jeff Brown December 31st, 2007 10:52 am

      Though I suspect Mr. Kaufman is like most bullies, who find themselves wielding the power of others. I also suspect he’s trying in vain to explain his tough guy behavior to his superiors.

      I KNOW he’s wetting his pants as I write this, as that’s what most bullies do when challenged in public with nowhere to run.

      Everyone in Loudoun County now knows of his petty threats. Possibly the best outcome for Mr. Kaufman is to get through this with his current employment unchanged.

      Greg’s thoughts on the new era are so right. Bullies can no longer survive in the shadows.

      It’s time to man up Mr. Kaufman. Behaving like the head cheerleader fearful of losing her power ain’t workin’ for ya.

    8. Matthew Rathbun December 31st, 2007 1:11 pm

      Can the county be liable for this harrasment? I am surprised that his superiors and the county attorney is letting him run loose like this. Why exactly are the CEO and Presidents of two associations being copied? I think he’s digging his hole deeper and Danilo should be talking to a tort attorney… I am tired of all of us being targets just because it’s easy.

    9. Eric Blackwell December 31st, 2007 2:33 pm

      @Russell–kudos, my friend on taking on a large bully on a very small comparative playground.

      @Todd Kaufman–Sir, with all due respect, Russell has been nice and given you a way out. If you Google your name (Todd Kaufman), you will see that this post is already #7 for your name. It could EASILY be ranked #1 without much effort at all for your name, and for Loudon County Assesor and for many other keywords. (Parenthetical note: All it takes for this to happen is for this post to receive links from other blogs who think that what Russell had to say was important.) This is NOT a threat. I am in the business of doing “Online Reputation Management” consulting in Southern Indiana. (Google that.) I’d simply like to offer you the same advice a client coming in to my office would get.

      This is worth reading twice so pay attention, Mr. Kaufman.

      It is MUCH easier to simply correct the behavior and not get into an online exposure skirmish than it is to fight one. You have made mistake #1: Namely trying to limit free speech with threats presumably because you do not like what was said. Mistake #2 is to continue with Mistake #1.

      Todd, you’d be surprised how many people can avoid further problems simply by making things right one to one with those they have snubbed. In fact oftentimes, you can turn a negative into a positive.

      While I’d like nothing better than for you to hire me to correct the problem by getting 10 other positive web pages to the top of Google, instead of the negative pub that you are generating for yourself, the BEST and BY FAR the cheapest way to do that is simply to mend the fences you have torn down. Sadly too few of my clients take that advice.

      Once again, this is not a threat. In my opinion, it is simply the reality of the web based information age that we live in. Surprising how quick information travels,no? Fame and popularity can turn to infamy quickly.

      The light of truth that open conversation brings is the polar opposite of threats in shadows, IMO.

      By the way, I dugg this post as well.

    10. Jay Thompson December 31st, 2007 2:47 pm

      Google Todd Kaufman Assessor for an even more telling display… 3 blog responses are #1, #2, and #3 – with the county assessor site coming in at #4…

      And there may be another one up there soon…

    11. Greg Swann December 31st, 2007 2:54 pm

      And there we go: An Army of Davids. Nicely done.

    12. Cathleen Collins December 31st, 2007 2:56 pm

      Okay. I bit. I Googled Todd Kaufman and found that this isn’t the first time he’s stepped in it. The first web reference on ZoomInfo reported in March 2006:

      In calls to Leesburg Today, posts on the paper’s Web site and e-mails to the board of supervisors, residents have called for action, some requesting the firing of new County Assessor Todd Kaufman.

    13. Cathleen Collins December 31st, 2007 3:09 pm

      Here’s another Google find. Loudoun County’s local online issue of the Washington Post reported on this today:

      Some feathers have been ruffled at the county assessor’s office over a local real estate blog post.

      How I wish the Arizona Republic was this up to speed on local blogs.

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    16. Eric Blackwell December 31st, 2007 5:31 pm

      Hey Jay…

      Check Todd Kaufman Assessor now…imagine that…grin

      Happy New Year to all.

      @Todd –Greg’s right about reading Glenn Reynolds’ book “An Army of Davids”…you need to put that on your reading list for the new year. (Just my opinion) Glenn didn’t become the “instapundit” by not understanding online reputation management.

    17. Jay Thompson December 31st, 2007 6:06 pm

      Eric – that post went to #2 for Todd Kaufman Assessor 11 minutes after it was posted. Google never ceases to amaze.

      And it never forgets…

    18. Eric Ogunbase December 31st, 2007 7:44 pm

      The County Assessor’s site has dropped to #6 on the front page of Google. If he thought it was bad…just wait until Google re-indexes after Jan 2, when everyone returns to work and their RSS feeds.

      Bullies like Kaufman won’t give up once embarrassed. He’s going to want to continue…which is why bullies are pathetic in the first place.

      Long gone are the days where a local official could intimidate someone with their title. The blogosphere has changed that.

      All the best for a prosperous 2008.

    19. Wayne Long January 2nd, 2008 7:07 am

      You are exactly right – continuing mistake #1 is the way to really end up in the toilet. Sometimes you have to let things go and move on. If you keep digging the hole just gets deeper!

    20. Kevin Folger January 2nd, 2008 8:08 am

      I am appalled at this page on your blog. I agree that Mr. Kaufman’s letters were aggressive, however, he does not threaten Mr. Bogdonovic nor attack him personally. He may not like realtor blogs, but he did not display inappropriate photos of the writer. He did not “demand” a retraction, he requested the removal of misleading information which, according to his letter to Ms. Jalufka, she was provided the specifics during a telephone conversation the previous day.

      You ask if calling Mr. Kaufman a horse’s ass unprofessional? Absolutely. It is also childish. If you believe his actions were inappropriate, why do you do the same?

    21. Greg Swann January 2nd, 2008 8:14 am

      Why lampoon Loudoun County Tax Assessor Todd Kaufman? Because in the United States satire is protected speech.

      As a disclosure, Kevin Folger came to us from a U.S. government domain.

    22. Thomas Johnson January 2nd, 2008 10:42 am

      It’s a shame that Kevin Folger hasn’t the courage to join in this conversation about Todd Kaufman, Tax Assessor, Loudoun County, especially since we the taxpayers are paying for his bandwidth.

      See my comments on Russell’s post here:

    23. Greg Swann January 2nd, 2008 10:51 am

      Good on ya. We’re a dofollow blog. Big things are accumulations of little things.

    24. Malok January 2nd, 2008 2:03 pm

      Its a shame that this thing apparently has gotten so big. I’m sure things could have been more simply handled if Mr. Kaufman had allowed it.

      A cup of coffee and some friendly discussion and in most situations, everyone walks away happy.

      Its most unfortunate that Mr. Kaufman tried to use what essentially amounts to a bazooka to swat at a gnat.

      I guess he should have made sure that he had it pointed in the right direction before firing. :)

    25. David Stejkowski January 3rd, 2008 7:34 am

      There are some things I just don’t say about people or public officials, mainly because I seem to play in a small world where I run across the same people over and over again, and I do not want to have of of my clients’ positions prejudiced by my personal views.

      But like Voltaire, I defend to the death Danilo’s rights, and that is what the First Amendment is all about.

      To be an elected official you have to have a very thick skin. (I admittedly do not.) It seems to me that Mr. Kaufman should consider a career change, whether voluntary or involuntary.

    26. David Stejkowski January 3rd, 2008 7:42 am

      There is one thing I forgot to mention about why I have to keep my mouth shut sometimes: the possibility of ethics violations. Apparently a lawyer in Florida is in trouble for blogging about a judge in a manner that might be disparaging the judiciary. I don’t know what the rules are for real estate professionals in Virginia, but I assume that is what Kaufman is relying on. I nonetheless disagree with this approach.

    27. Anonymous January 3rd, 2008 9:48 am

      Let’s get back to the core of this, the first amendment not only gives us all the right to free speech, but the right to petition the government for a redress of grievances! That means appealing to the tax assessor to have your property re-evaluated. All Bogdanovic did was address those concerns and make a plea for those people to be heard and rightfully so. He took a stand not only for their property rights, but for their first amendment right as well. Good job, Bogdanovic!

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    35. SDREC April 15th, 2008 9:49 am

      To question the right to voice ones opinion when that opinion is a subjective view of what so many others agree with is what makes this country what it is. To even think about taking away our voice will make us just another country instead of the leaders of democracy that we are.

    36. Mack McMillan January 26th, 2009 2:57 am

      I stumbled on this blog and now I am curious. Is Todd Kaufman still in office?

    37. Thomas Johnson January 27th, 2009 9:42 pm

      Mack: Apparently Todd Kaufman is Tax Assessor in Loudoun County.