No one can accuse Judy Shelton of consistency. President Trump’s 387th attempt to get a Federal Reserve Board of Governors nominee past a Senate that is very much controlled by his lackeys has been accused of a “fatal attraction to nutty ideas” by a member of that not-so-august group, but her likely elevation to the central bank can be credited to her willingness to say and believe whatever the Dear Leader wants: She was in favor of higher interest rates until she wasn’t, and backed a return to the gold standard before deciding against it in a politically expedient way. She’s a conservative, which means she believes in following the letter of the law, unless it’s politically convenient to follow the spirit of an expired one, and presumably is a fan of smaller government, deregulation, small business, natural resource extraction and untrammeled property rights. That is, of course, as long as those things happen somewhere other than her quiet Tidewater community.
Over the past several years, Ms. Shelton and her husband have gone to court to block mining projects near their home — a manor on a former plantation outside Fredericksburg, Va., that once served as the Confederate general Stonewall Jackson’s winter camp. While the would-be miners argued that their operations would be good for the local economy, the Sheltons and their neighbors seized on zoning rules to try to block them, arguing they would provide too little benefit to outweigh added truck traffic, lost property value, environmental damage and disruptions to the local peace.
“She espouses this free enterprise notion,” said Emmett C. Snead, who found himself in the Sheltons’ cross hairs when he tried to start a sand mine near their home. “She says one thing in the world, and does a different thing here….” In 2008, Mr. Snead wanted to mine a field he owns for sand and gravel, a hot commodity in this community upriver from the Chesapeake Bay. The land in question sits across from the road that leads to Ms. Shelton’s house, and she and her husband were among a group that filed a lawsuit to prevent him from doing so. The State Supreme Court ultimately decided in Mr. Snead’s favor in late 2013.
Ms. Shelton and her husband have also tried repeatedly to squash other proposed mines that they viewed as a threat to their bucolic community, which borders the Rappahannock River. The Sheltons filed a different complaint against a company owned by another neighbor, Larry Silver, over a project that they argued would detract from their property value and undermine their efforts at historic preservation. The complaint noted that Mr. Silver had also installed a “spiteful” hog farm on his property, which is adjacent to the road that leads to the manor.