“George Washington slept here” signs appear as historical markers across the eastern United States. Another would-be elected official from Virginia could be leaving a similar trail of signs, including one in Rockville: “Tareq Salahi owed here.”
A company founded by the alleged White House party-crashing reality TV star turned Virginia gubernatorial candidate owes a Rockville transportation company $34,000 for unpaid bills, The Washington Post reported.
The tab would be the latest in a litany of unpaid bills for Salahi and his now-ex-wife Michaele, including tens of thousands of dollars in debt detailed in a 2009 article in The Post.
Except that Salahi no longer runs the latest company in question and the unpaid bills aren’t his concern, the Virginia vintner recently told The Post.
If that’s true, RMA Worldwide Chauffeured Transportation owner Robert Alexander wants to know why Salahi’s home address is the same as the address on the unpaid bills, Alexander told Rockville Patch.
Attempts to reach Salahi were unsuccessful. A listing for Salahi in Hume, VA, where his family owned Oasis Winery, is out of service. The winery was the scene of a bankruptcy auction in September 2011, as reported by The Wall Street Journal’s “Bankruptcy Blog.”
Messages left with a Salahi spokesperson and at a number on the Facebook page that is the website for Salahi’s campaign for governor went unreturned. The number on the campaign Facebook page also appears on a request for proposals sent by Blue Ridge to RMA Worldwide Chauffeured Transportation.
Between August and December, RMA provided minibuses for winery tours by Blue Ridge WineWay, Alexander said. It was “nice work,” he said. “It would’ve been a very good contract had we gotten paid.”
Only after RMA began providing the bus service did Alexander learn Tareq Salahi was involved with Blue Ridge and that some of the tours began at Salahi’s home, Alexander said.
“When I first learned he was involved, I thought ‘We’re screwed. We’re not getting paid. We’re out of luck,’” Alexander said.
RMA also was misled by a "Viriginia is for Wine Lovers" logo that appeared on the RFP and made it appear that Blue Ridge was affiliated with the Commonwealth of Virginia's tourism initiatives, Alexander said. With that in mind, Alexander told The Gazette, he did not request that Blue Ridge provide the credit card information RMA usually requires before providing service.
Alexander said his company has been trying to collect payment for more than a month, only to receive various excuses, he said. First, Blue Ridge WineWay’s computer system was down, he said he was told. Then, the check was in the mail. Finally, he was told Blue Ridge was out of business.
Alexander said he went to The Post with the story after he had exhausted most other options.
He said he hopes no one else has the same experience he had.
“We’re not stupid,” he said. “We’ve been in business 25 years. This doesn’t happen.”
Alexander is not currently pursuing a lawsuit against Salahi or Blue Ridge WineWays, though “It’s certainly by no means been ruled out,” he said.
A woman who answered the telephone at a number on the Blue Ridge WineWays website said the number was for the Warrenton Fauquier County Visitor Center. The center used to send brochures about the region’s wineries to callers on behalf of the company, she said.
“There really is no Blue Ridge WineWays anymore,” she said.