NOTE: I have read Nancy Russell’s editorial and talked through Facebook with Liza Bradford about their votes in support of the budget that passed. After considering what they had to say, I have decided to revise this article that was originally posted on 6/26/14. My issues were never with the fact that donations were made to Republican candidates across the state. However, the decision to send $300K to outside national GOP groups was misguided and unprecedented, especially when there is no guarantee that money will ever makes it way back to Virginia. However, it is unfair to assume that the all the committee members who voted in support of the budget did so with the same reasoning and facts as Ray Allen and a handful of others. In fact, it is not even clear to me that Ray Allen and Don Williams were forthcoming with other committee members about the fact that no Virginia earmarking exists on this money that has been sent to D.C. The article has been revised to reflect these changes.
Ray Allen, Mike Thomas, and Donald Williams continued their assault on the grassroots last night with a 13-6 vote on the committee to bleed the 7th District GOP bank account. Here is how it happened…
Last night at the Goochland Library the 7th District GOP Committee held their first meeting under the new chairmanship of Fred Gruber. The Treasurer’s Report showed that the 7th CD Committee had approximately $470,000 cash on hand, with almost the entire amount coming from Cantor’s Victory Fund. (As an aside, can the other side please stop bemoaning the loss of Linwood Cobb’s fundraising prowess? The man did nothing to raise money. He simply cashed the Cantor checks.) Ray Allen and Mike Thomas (who are not elected members of the 7th District Committee) were conveniently in attendance, carrying a voting member’s proxy, so that they could vote on the motions. [Ray Allen held a proxy for a voting member Kristi Way - (Cantor's Chief of Staff); Mike Thomas held a voting proxy for Dave Fuller.]
An initial motion was made by conservatives on the Committee to spend approximately $288K of the money to help Gillespie/Brat win in November, while saving the balance for future elections. Specifically, conservatives wanted to spend $288K to build a sophisticated grassroots operation for each of the ten counties in the 7th District to help with general election voter turnout in November. It would have far exceeded any sort of GOP victory efforts in the past, with each county having the necessary resources, talent, and technical support to increase our voter margins in November. This proposal was flatly denied.
Chesterfield GOP Chairman, Donald Williams, made a substitute motion to give $150,000 to to the Republican National Committee (RNC), $150,000 to the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC), $25,000 to Ben Chafin who is running to replace the state senate seat of Phil Puckett down in southwest Virginia, $12,866 to the Republican Party of Virginia so that GOP units in the 7th district could obtain i360 data licenses, and $5,000 to all Virginia congressional campaign – leaving only approximately $86,000 in the 7th district bank account.
Interestingly, this proposal basically gave NOTHING to 7th District election efforts in November, only allocating a total of $12,866 to purchase i360 data licenses. This budget committed no local money (outside of the i360 licenses) to grow the GOP and turn out the vote in their own district. Instead, it was given to Washington D.C. with no guarantees that it would be spent in Virginia or in the 7th district.
This proposed budget even slighted the state party, not giving the Republican Party of Virginia a dime! Why do I say this? Because RPV is simply being used a pass thru to pay for i360 licenses for the 10 GOP units in the 7th District. RPV doesn’t get to keep a dime of the $12,866 they are being sent. Make no mistake, this is retribution for Pat Mullins standing up against the slating tactics of Eric Cantor, Ray Allen and Mike Thomas. Their intentions were exposed when Fred Gruber tried to offer a compromise amendment to the Cantor/Allen/Thomas/Williams budget that the $300K going to the RNC and NRCC be split three ways so that RPV would at least get $100K. This proposal was also flatly denied. No money to the RPV and only $12,866 to 7th District operations.
Only 6 members voted against this proposal. Those were:
Here are the members who voted for the budget proposed by Don Williams:
Donald Williams – Chesterfield Unit Chairman
Chris Obenshain – Richmond City Unit Chairman
Nancy Russell – Hanover County Unit Chairman
Don Boswell – Henrico County Unit Chairman
Graven Craig – Louisa County Unit Chairman
Liza Bradford – VFRW District 7 Rep
Kate Rennolds – Young Republican Rep
Klarke Kilgore (proxy) – College Republican Rep
Jane Ladd – State Central Presidential Rep
David Fuller (Mike Thomas held proxy) – State Central Congressional Rep
Doug Rogers – State Central rep
Marie Quinn – State Central rep
Kristi Way (Ray Allen held proxy) – State Central rep
I’m sure there were a number of individuals on this committee who voted for the substitute budget, because it appeared on face value as sensible and practical. It donated money to Republican candidates like they have historically done (a good thing) and obtained i360 licenses. Clearly some individuals were even told the $300K to D.C. would come back to Virginia to help with victory operations. Indeed, many local unit chairman have given this same reasoning to their inquiring grassroots member since the meeting took place. There are just a few problems with the arguments that were provided to committee members:
- Money is fungible. If RNC and NRCC were already planning on spending money in VA, they will now redirect those funds elsewhere with this new money coming their way.
- RNC has stated they will set up some victory offices in Virginia, but have not committed to spending the entire amount in the 7th or Virginia.
- NRCC has refused to state what they will do with the money.
- Explain to me why we are incapable at the local OR state level of running our own grassroots victory operations? Gruber had proposed $288K on grassroots/victory operations, while the substitute motion was to give $300K to the RNC/NRCC, who may or may not invest that amount on victory operations (with staff, offices, robocalls, etc.) in Virginia. This top-down approach that tries to import a grassroots operations from D.C. is why we keep losing Virginia elections in our statewide races. We would rather pay for a dozen strangers who live all across the country and know nothing about our district and communities to come to Virginia to door knock for us rather than hire local individuals who live in the community, know the area, and already have proven they know how to door knock and make phone calls to their neighbors. And to top it all off, these same individuals want to critique Gruber’s budget for the same thing they claim they want the national groups to do for them.
- Ray Allen had shared with multiple people that he intended to bankrupt RPV. He was intent that not a dime of Cantor money would go to RPV after Chairman Mullins opposed his slating efforts to remove conservative members from local GOP committees. It sure looks like this budget carries through with his threats.
- As stated many times before, RPV did not get $1 for their own use to help with Virginia elections. Remember, Chairman Gruber even suggested that the $300K be divided three ways, $100K to RNC, $100K to NRCC and $100K to RPV. The proposal was quickly killed.
- Former 7th District Chairman, Linwood Cobb, was all too transparent in his disdain for Ken Cuccinelli and the RPV. On 6/28 on Facebook he stated, “please tell me why a District Committee should have to financially support the State Party? It would be like you as Chair of Spotsy being expected to financially keep the 7th District Committee afloat. If the Cuccinelli/Moulton lead State Party can’t raise enough money to keep from going under, that is no fault of any District Committee…” So it seems that Linwood Cobb has no problem keeping RNC or NRCC afloat, just not his own state party.
So while some acted in good faith on the budget based on the information presented, it was clear that this budget proposal accomplished the goals of Ray Allen and a few others – punish the RPV and grassroots after their slating debacle and Cantor defeat.