On Saturday, January 3, over 200 Campbell County Republicans crowded into the Timberlake Christian School gym. The enthusiastic New Year’s weekend crowd elected stalwart conservative county supervisor Eric Zehr as GOP chairman, and a record county GOP committee of 106. Zehr’s election closes the book on ten months of bitterness sparked by John “Slater” Ferguson’s illegal slating of over a hundred Campbell Republicans on March 20, 2014 – with the aid of scores of Democrats and other non-Republicans.[read_more]
The election comes less than a month after Fifth District GOP Chairman Jon Berkley defied the Republican Party of Virginia’s State Central Committee August ruling on the appeal from the March 20 “slating” mass meeting, as well as multiple binding rulings from RPV’s General Counsel, Patrick McSweeney. The Berkley committee illegally purported to declare the Campbell committee defunct, remove chairman Les Williams, and replace him with Berkley pal Carl Weiser and Berkley’s handpicked “committee” of 18. The district instructed Weiser to eventually call a new mass meeting – ignoring the fact that Williams had already issued a call to do so, pursuant to SCC’s instructions from August.
Turns out, the action was more illegal even than the General Counsel knew. Weiser is ineligible not only to chair a committee and call a mass meeting, but even to participate in GOP functions for four years. Weiser signed the Statement of Intent to support Republican candidates in February 2013, in order to be a state convention delegate. By October, Rev. Weiser was repeatedly on Facebook, advocating the defeat of the three Republican candidates for supervisor – including Zehr, a former member of his church!
The Ferguson/Weiser forces then boycotted the January 3 mass meeting, taking to social media to denounce the meeting as “invalid,” (while Berkley referred the the State Central Committee as “power hungry idiots”) and urging people not to attend. Weiser went so far as to post that he was in contact with “legal counsel” for RPV and would update folks in his church with the result.
General Counsel McSweeney replied with a letter reminding Weiser of his rulings just prior to the December 7 Fifth District circus, rulings which declared the Campbell GOP to be composed of the leadership and membership that existed prior to the “slating” mass meeting last spring:
Those rulings declared Mr. Les Williams to be the legitimate Chairman of the Campbell County Republican Committee and those members of the Committee in office before the Mass Meeting in the spring to be the legitimate Unit Committee. The State Central Committee has also ruled on the matter in August 2014, and the Circuit Court for Campbell County dismissed a challenge to the decision of the SCC. Efforts by Mr. Berkley and Mr. Ferguson taken before the District Committee actions you reference to frustrate the ability of that Committee and Mr. Williams to function cannot be relied upon, as my previous ruling declared, as a basis for claiming that the Committee and the Chairman were non-functioning.
To date, Weiser’s promise appears worthless: he has not updated his Facebook page at all to reflect McSweeney’s reply.
He did respond to a Channel 13 television interview on Monday, stating that “it’s in the state’s hands now, and we will abide by their decision.” If he actually does, it would represent something of a change in strategy. Mr. Weiser was present at the hearing of the party’s State Central Committee on August 16, where the party overturned the March mass meeting and reinstated Les Williams as chairman.
He was likewise present at the December 7 Fifth District meeting that purported to remove Mr. Williams and install Weiser. He heard clearly the news that the General Counsel had declared the proposed action illegal and in violation of the August SCC ruling. He watched Berkley’s Fifth District committee openly defy the Party Plan’s requirement of 30 days notice to a chairman whose position is challenged (Williams’ first notice of Berkley’s attack on his committee came when the meeting opened). But Weiser again ignored the Party Plan and the General Counsel, and accepted the illegal appointment.
The lawlessness in Jon Berkley’s “Wild, Wild West” continues. Mr. Weiser is just the latest rogue gunman. The only result of his willful defiance of SCC and General Counsel rulings, and his false claims that the mass meeting was invalid, was that members of his church – whom Zehr actively tried to recruit to the Republican mass meeting – were denied opportunity to participate.
Zehr’s campaign speech called for a return to America’s founding principles, and the principles of the Republican Creed. “Please don’t give into this idea that we need to become more like them to get our people into office,” he said. “The truth wins nothing by compromise. I really hope that the Republican Party will stay true to its grounding, founding principles, and if people from the outside are in agreement and in accord with the principles of the Republican Party, please come on in. Let’s work together.”
Besides electing Zehr, Campbell Republicans unanimously passed two resolutions. One recommended that the Campbell committee award outgoing chairman Les Williams the “Defender of Liberty award” for his stand against slating and the blatant solicitation of Democrats to corrupt the GOP mass meeting process.
The other emphatically called upon State Central Committee to end the lawlessness in the Fifth – and the repeated attacks on the Campbell committee – by removing Jon Berkley as chairman of the 5th District Republican Committee immediately.
State Central will meet on January 24 to consider the appeal of the rogue Fifth District action, and to confirm the clear result of Campbell Republicans’ Saturday mass meeting. It is high time SCC validated the clear intent of Campbell Republicans and put a decisive end to 10 months of broken rules and bitterness. It is also high time SCC removed Jon Berkley, the defiant ringleader of the outlaw band in the Fifth.