On Wednesday morning Mark Obenshain’s campaign will file for a recount in the recent election for Attorney General of Virginia. Obenshain is currently down 165 votes. The recount is likely to center around Fairfax county where provisional ballots were given more time for consideration than all other jurisdictions. From NBCWashington:
In the recount, Obenshain’s best hope would likely involve challenges of ballots cast as absentees or provisional — those contested when they were cast because a voter lacked proper identification or because of questions involving proper polling place.
A possible target for the recount would be provisional ballots counted in Fairfax County, despite Republican protests that the local election board extended too much time for voters who had cast those disputed ballots to argue their case. The tally widened Herring’s lead.
In addition to the concerns already voiced about provisional ballots in Fairfax, the head of their electoral board, Brian Schoeneman, has admitted that he accepted provisional ballots without the proper signatures. The following exchange appeared on Brian’s twitter page on Monday, prior to his third appearance on the Rachel Maddow show.
Question to Brian,
I remember seeing a tweet that the FFX Board had accepted provisional ballots that did not have a signature? Is that right?
Brian Schoeneman’s response,
Yes, there were about a dozen. We followed SBE’s guidance from October 23 regarding missing info on prov. ballot envelopes
How many other provisional ballots in Fairfax were accepted without the proper information? With an extra four days to pour over those ballots, four days that voters in other areas did not get, how many more questionable votes in Fairfax were counted that were not counted in other areas of the state? I suggest that the state recount begin in Fairfax county. Voters in that county had an advantage over voters in all other areas of the state. How could that be fair, or legal?
If problems are found in Fairfax, if the counting of their votes is proven to have been faulty in a manner that could have effected the outcome of this election,
Virginia law also provides for an unsuccessful candidate to “contest” the election, based on “specific allegations which, if proven true, would have a probable impact on the outcome of the election.”
That sends the disputed election to the majority Republican General Assembly, which would meet in joint session.
We know that provisional ballot voters in Fairfax were treated differently than all other voters in the state. That could be a basis for a challenge to the election. In the end, we may all be thanking Brian Schoeneman for his mishandling of the provisional ballots in Fairfax county!
Having read through this long thread of comments, made longer by Brian’s bloviating and verbosity, it seems more and more clear that if the recount goes as expected the General Assembly will decide the outcome of the Attorney General race because of Faifax county. At that point we will all owe Brian a huge debt of gratitude.
Folks, there is no issue here. Brian resigned as GC immediately after being appointed to the electoral board. As Vice Chairman of FCRC, I identified the new GC. The information on FCRC’s website regarding this position is inaccurate and it will be corrected.
Actually, I am glad we are having this conversation. Maybe Brian can clear up two points. Brian, on November 9, 2013 you tweeted: “The fact that SBE’s guidance contradicted our past practice prompted us to extend our timeline for provisionals.” You appear to be saying the reason for extending the deadline was in response to the SBE memo on Friday November 8, 2013 stating that provisional voters could not be represented by party officials and not in direct response to droves of people showing up. Can you clarify that tweet?
More to that, on your Facebook page you made a statement regarding the SBE memo in which outlined why you disagreed with the SBE and then said “we had workarounds that let us comply with SBE and still get the information we needed.” Was the workaround the extension or something else?
Yes. As I explained in more detail at the press conferences and since then, voters had been told by the Democratic Party (among others) that if they signed a card designating FCDC to represent them, FCDC would have an attorney represent them at our provisional ballot meeting and they did not need to appear in person. Dozens of voters on Election Day were told this information by FCDC and relied on it, choosing not to come in on Wednesday, Thursday or Friday morning while we were in the canvass/provisional ballot meeting.
I had been told, both by Chairman Stark – who was on the Board last year while I was not – and others that the past practice in Fairfax was to allow an attorney to represent a client in the meeting without the voter present if the attorney could produce a signed consent form from the voter. Neither FCRC nor FCDC contradicted this when it was discussed with them.
SBE’s memo from 11:30 on Friday made it clear that this past practice (which I had nothing to do with, as it was a past practice prior to my appointment) was incorrect (under their view of the law) and informed us that we could not continue that practice – that obeying their guidance was not discretionary. I discussed the issue with other two Board members and both the Republican and Democratic Party representatives and they all agreed to abide by SBE’s guidance. At the same time, we recognized that a significant number of voters were told different information, and they should be notified and allowed to come in and present to us if they chose, since they believed someone was doing that for them on their behalf.
That’s why we announced hours that we would be specifically available for voters to come in, and both parties were asked to contact their voters and urge them to come in during the hours we advertised.
The SBE guidance was specifically regarding who could be in the closed provisional ballot meeting to provide information – voters AND their attorneys (not attorneys without a voter). Our workaround was simple – if the attorney had information he wanted to convey, he was free to do that to outside the closed meeting. He couldn’t be in the room while we were in closed session, but outside of closed session, the information could be provided to the staff or individual board members and we asked that it be provided in writing. That’s what happened. That was the “workaround.” Our goal was to have the best information. Some folks provided emails, some folks provided copies of information or hand written requests, others went so far as to provide notorized affidavits. We took all the information that was made available to us, but we did not allow any attorneys to present information in the closed meeting if the voter they represented was not present.
I have been thinking about this issue. Did every provisional voter sign the card indicating they wished someone to represent them in their absence? Then in that case it would be a little unfair to say “Sorry, you have to come in person now” when they were under the impression they didn’t have to appear.
Not every one. I think there were a couple of dozen, however, who did. We were given copies of every card that was signed and provided to us. It was a significant number.
So let me recap and tell me if I got anything wrong.
1.) On election day Fairfax County Democratic Committee volunteers (among others) asked provisional voters if they wanted to sign a card permitting a party representative to argue their case for them if they didn’t show up in person at the Board of Elections.
2.) A couple of dozen voters actually signed the cards. Although you also said dozens of voters were told about this option. So I am not clear as to how many actually signed the cards authorizing representation in their absence.
3.) Prior to provisional voter meetings both parties were given spread sheets containing voter information. Although most jurisdictions limited party access to voter information during the meeting with the voter, Fairfax County was not alone in giving out provisional log information prior to the meeting with the voter.
4.) In response to the SBE memo issued on Friday, the Fairfax County Board of Elections took two courses of action.
a.) It extended the time provisional voters could appear in person in situations where lack of a proper ID was not at issue.
b.) It allowed party representatives to counsel voters outside of the hearing room which complied with the letter of SBE’s memo because the advice was not given during the actual meeting.
2.) I know FCDC signed up a large number of voters – large being at least 30. We were given a pile of representation forms, but I don’t have the exact number here. I also know that FCDC policy is to approach every voter in a precinct where they have pollwatchers to offer them representation. So I can’t say how many voters were approached, but I would say it likely that a majority were.
3.) This is how I understand it. To be clear, in every jurisdiction in Virginia, the authorized reps could take notes and then provide those notes to folks outside the meeting to start making calls. Our size made that impracticable, so we provided a list of all the non-confidential information, rather than force the party observers to scribble madly for hours.
4.) Let’s be clear here. A.) People are getting hung up on the word “extension” and that’s probably my fault, since I used it first. We didn’t specifically extend the provisional ballot meeting time to allow voters to present. We called it an extension, but the reality was that we knew on Saturday afternoon that we wouldn’t be done reviewing all the provisionals until Tuesday. We didn’t have access to DMV and SBE records on the weekend and holiday. Since we would be in the provisional ballot meeting anyway, voters were entitled to present to us, so we let them, and we announced the hours that we wanted voters to come in so we would have free time before and after to actually evaluate and vote on provisionals. We called it an extension, but it was simply the same provisional ballot meeting we’d be in since Wednesday, adjourned from day to day as we kept working through provisionals.
B.) We don’t have any authority to limit what party representatives say to voters at any time outside of a polling location. What we did was allow voters to provide information to legal counsel, who could provide us that information outside of the meeting. We did not accept information from anybody who wasn’t either the voter or the voter’s legal counsel either inside or outside the closed meeting.
Thanks. With regard to number 3, I was more interested in the issue of giving party representatives the provisional log information significantly in advance of the meetings. i.e. I presume the party representatives weren’t given the speadsheets at the Fairfax County Government Center. Did any other jurisdictions distribute provisional log information in advance of the actual meetings?
Your response to 4(a) seems a little inconsistent. On the one hand you said in your tweet that due to SBE forbidding the past practice of allowing provisional voters to be represented in their absence, the board was going to allow provisional voters additional time to come in. (I don’t particularly care if it is called an extension or additional time or that you announced the schedule in advance.) Here you say that due to lack of access to SBE records and DMV records because of the weekend and Veterans Day holiday you decided to allow provisional voters to appear in person until Tuesday. Surely, the lack of access problems would have been apparent prior to your Saturday announcement.
With regard to 4(b), no one would argue that a voter has a right to seek counsel of their own choosing. However, allowing that voter’s counsel to present information to the Board members outside of the meeting would seem to violate the spirit of the SBE memo. It would seem the Board should not accept any presentation from a voter’s counsel whether it’s actually in the meeting room or not, especially if the information imparted was used to make a decision on the validity of the provisional ballot.
The meetings all started on Wednesday, as required by law. We didn’t release our lists until Thursday afternoon. So nobody, not even in Fairfax, got a copy of the list before the meeting started.
4a isn’t inconsistent, it’s just there are multiple reasons for us doing what we did. The immediate reason was the difference in what people had been told (because of our past practice from 2012) and what SBE was saying was the law. At the same time, we recognized that we weren’t going to be done until Tuesday anyway, so we couldn’t exactly tell people they couldn’t show up. If we were still meeting because we couldn’t resolve all the provisionals because of needing DMV and other records, we would be available for voters to meet with. So providing times – extending the hours – was our way of bring some order to the potential chaos. This is why I have been saying, from the beginning, that there is no equal protection issue and that there is problem with our announcement – regardless of us announcing hours for voters to get, I can say with 100% certainty that we would not have been able to resolve all of our provisionals before Tuesday. And nobody is arguing that we had to.
4b is not a violation of the spirit, because there is no statutory or other policy reason for the state board to bar us from getting information from attorneys or voters outside the meeting. Their only concern, which rises from the the statue, is what happens in the closed meeting. I can see no rational basis for not accepting information that can help the board make its decision, regardless of the format, unless there’s a statutory bar (which is what SBE says there is, although I disagree).
What possible reason could there be out there for keeping important information that could impact a voter’s qualification from the Board?
Just one minor clarification on releasing the provisional log information. Do other jurisdictions distribute the information outside of the Electoral Board headquarters via email, etc.?
Good point on 4(b). If the voter is there, the law allows for a representative to act on the voter’s behalf. For some reason I thought you meant the Board allowed party representatives, outside of the meeting, to give the Board information and/or a reason why a provisional vote was valid for a voter who hadn’t appeared.
I don’t know. All I know is that we were told that other jurisdictions allowed a similar list to ours to be released.
I am not clear what your second paragraph means. Outside of the provisional voter meetings did the Board members, either individually or as a group, consider any arguments offered by a party representative, i.e. not a privately retained attorney, on behalf of a voter who did not appear in person?
Arguments? Not that I recall or am aware of. We did accept copies of emails and affidavits from the voters that were given to lawyers to give to us.
I don’t recall any lawyers, even the party observers, advocating for individual voters ballots outside the meeting. All they did was provide us with information on the voter’s behalf.
I know the Democratic Party observer gave our clerk a stack of photocopies of representation cards, and attached were any emails or affidavits with info from the voter attached. That took place outside the meeting, as I recall. That was the extent to which there was any representation.
Honestly, if there is any county to watch in the recount, it is probably Chesterfield and the large number of undervotes which happened there. Pretty sure undervotes all need to be handcounted which will make things interesting.
You know better than me Willie. I have no idea what the undervote situation is going to be.
We can guess how the undervotes will turn out in Chesterfield.
Sweet mother of mercy, would someone get the author her Xanax and a couple of martinis?
Funny! Last week, according to Brian, I was angry and bitter and out to get him. This week I’m just having fun and out to destroy the democratic process in Fairfax county!
While I’m not much for martinis and never had a Xanax, how about you buy me a Kir Royale at the Advance?
No, you’re still bitter and angry and out to get me, but you are too blind to realize that what you’re really doing is damaging the democratic process in your misguided attempts to smear me.
And yes, this website and the rest is your hobby. And I’d be happy to buy you a drink at the Advance as long as you promise not to throw it at me, which is about par for the course given your erratic behavior lately.
Brian, I’ve never committed any act of violence in my life so why you would say such thing is beyond reason. Just who is attacking whom here? There’s nothing erratic about MY behavior, it is your behavior that has been questioned for weeks by many people. That’s why you are enjoying this this 15 minutes of fame!
No one would ever believe that I am powerful enough to have a part in ‘damaging the democratic process’ but I thank you for the bizarre compliment. It will make for a good laugh at our Thanksgiving table!
If blogging and politics aren’t your hobby, what might they be? Surely they aren’t your life.
They’re what I do for a living, Jeanine. I am not enjoying this 15 minutes of fame. As I have repeatedly said, I didn’t want this job but I am locked into it until 2016. But I’m the Secretary, which means I’m the chief media spokesman for the Board, so I get stuck doing the TV.
I wasn’t complimenting you. There are a lot of people out there who read anything on the internet and assume it’s true. Folks who should know better have ready your tripe and then called me and I’ve had to set them straight. It gets old after a while, especially since you have some kind of allergic reaction to facts.
You’re on the electoral board, and their spokesman, for a living? Oh my. I had no idea that position paid a living wage.
It is not me who won’t face facts. Look around Brian, many people (some are even lawyers!) think you made just a few, tiny, mistakes in Fairfax, a few little things that will reverse the AG race. When the race is found to be a Contest, because of how you chose to handle things in Fairfax, you will still be arguing that everything you did was right. What fun that will be to watch! But we’ll understand because we have learned over these past few weeks that you can never be wrong and you must always have the last word. We get it.
I hope you and your family had a wonderful Thanksgiving!
I have three jobs. I’m a lobbyist, which is a political job. I’m a public official, which is a political job. And I co-own a small business, Virginia Line Media LLC, that publishes a political blog and a political radio show. So, yes, this is what I do for a living.
And, no, Jeanine, nobody thinks – not even many people nor many lawyers – that we made a few, tiny, mistakes that could reverse the AG’s race. Not Charlie Judd, not any of the Obenshain attorneys, not anybody I’ve talked to. You are the only one floating this cooky theory, because you simply have no idea what you are talking about. This is what I find most frustrating about you – you repeat rumor after rumor, you don’t think, and you have no idea what you talk about so you just repeat what others say and generally mistranslate what they say in the process.
If there is a contest, it won’t be because of Fairfax County. Nothing we did that anybody has criticized has had any impact on the AG’s race.
You don’t care about facts, and you don’t care about the truth. You just want to advance your agenda no matter what damage you do to anybody. It’s amazing how much like a Democrat you can be sometimes.
You know very well that I am not the only person in the state who has concerns about how you handled things in Fairfax. Good grief. Look around! The Electoral Board Chairman, Charles E. Judd, questioned what happened in Fairfax. “As he voted for certification Monday, board chairman Charles E. Judd said he had questions about how Fairfax County had conducted its canvass. Judd, former chairman of the Republican Party of Virginia, said he was concerned that poll numbers shifted repeatedly, and that some voters who cast provisional ballots in the heavily Democratic county were given more time than voters in other parts of the state to prove that their ballots should be counted.” http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/talking-down-the-result-in-vas-attorney-general-race/2013/11/26/a0bb79c8-56c6-11e3-835d-e7173847c7cc_story.html Your blog has also questioned what happened in Fairfax, here.
Google yourself and Fairfax and you will find many articles about what happened in Fairfax and the likelyhood that it will result in a ‘Contest’, depending on the outcome of the recount. Surely you’ve heard about it! If not, please read the post I’m writing about it.
BTW, no one cares about all your little jobs, but thanks for sharing.
I really need to start charging to correct your misinformation – and AP, too. At the very least, you should run these stories by Steve so he can tell you you’re wrong before you put them up and make a fool of yourself.
1.) The recount won’t “center” anywhere. It’s a full recount of the entire Commonwealth. AP’s story is wrong on that count.
2.) There will be no “challenges” to provisional ballots or anything else, because that’s not what the recount is all about. In a recount, all we are doing is recounting – not questioning the validity of any votes or determining whether any provisionals accepted should have been counted or not counted. That only happens in a contest, not in a recount. Nobody is going to be looking at our provisionals and determining if we got them right unless there is a contest. AP’s story is wrong on that count as well.
3.) As per SBE’s guidance of October 23, we did accept 13 provisional (NOT ABSENTEE) ballots (none were ID provisionals, either) that did not have signatures. Don Palmer’s memo specifically stated that ” The electoral board’s sole function in reviewing provisional ballots is to determine “whether each such person having submitted a provisional vote in the precinct in which he offered the vote is entitled to do so as a qualified voter in the precinct in which he offered the provisional vote.” Va. Code § 24.2-653.
Similarly, an officer of election’s failure to complete information on the provisional ballot envelope should not be independent grounds for determining a vote invalid.”
As was stated there, our sole function is to determine whether the person submitting the vote is entitled to do so as a qualified voter. In each of those 13 situations the voters were qualified to vote in precinct. That’s the proper standard for us to use, which is what SBE told us, so that’s what we did.
4.) Provisional voters in Fairfax were not treated differently than voters anywhere else. All voters had the same opportunity to come in and be heard while the Electoral Boards were canvassing the vote and conducting their provisional ballot meeting. Our meeting lasted until Tuesday. Not every jurisdictions did, but they didn’t have as many provisionals as we did either.
As I have said from the beginning, and as you’ve ignored, we followed the law and all SBE guidance as we understood it, even the ones we disagreed with.
And, again, you keep saying “Brian Schoeneman did this” and “Brian Schoeneman did that.” I am one vote on a three person board. Yes, I am the most senior member, but every single vote we took on every single provisional, with the exception of 1 (and in that case it was the two Rs voting against the 1 D) was done unanimously. You can call me a RINO and question my Republican credentials, but if you do that, you’re doing the exact same thing to Steve Hunt, our Vice Chairman, who is a good man, a decorated Navy veteran, and not somebody who is going to be persuaded by me or anybody else if he thinks we were breaking the law or doing anything wrong.
We also had the benefit of Cameron Quinn, our General Registrar and a former Secretary of the State Board of Elections – one who went to court to have two Democratic Fairfax County Electoral Board members removed (but was unsuccessful) when they violated SBE rules and guidelines. If she believed that we were willfully ignoring SBE and SBE guidance, she would have stopped us, too. I did nothing unilaterally.
I know you’ve been telling everybody who will listen to you that I’m going to resign, or I’m going to be removed from office, or I’m just “days away” from losing my job, and I want to tell you categorically that that – like nearly everything else you’ve written on and about me in the last two weeks – is flat out wrong.
The provisional ballots in Fairfax had zero impact on the overall outcome of the AG’s race. The amount of time voters had to come in and present to us had zero impact on the overall outcome of the AG’s race. Your attempts to blame me – and apparently me alone – for Mark Obenshain’s loss are flat out ridiculous.
Stop printing lies.
Have you considered writing on your own blog rather than making these long posts here? No one is going to read your long diatribes.
Yes, we are very aware that everyone is wrong, except for you. As long as your efforts help make Obenshain Attorney General, it matters not, and we will all be thanking you!
Actually, I’m in the process of drafting a comprehensive report for the Electoral Board to adopt and present to State Board and any outside observers at our next meeting that addresses all of these issues.
But when I see you writing nonsense about things you don’t understand and willfully attacking both my character and my conduct in office, I’m going to respond to it. You can make all the jokes you want about me needing to get the last word, but if I don’t correct the nonsense you put out, folks who listen to you
(why anyone still does I have no idea) are going to get the wrong idea, and then I’ve got to deal with a lot of folks who should know better thinking we did a whole bunch of wrong things in Fairfax when that never happened.
That’s your problem, Jeanine. All of this is a big joke for you, a hobby in your retirement. What you don’t understand is that you are willfully damaging the democratic process by accusing the Fairfax Board of violating the law when we haven’t done that. You are undermining public trust in the process just for the twisted pleasure of attacking me personally for no reason other than personal animus.
It would be nice if, for once in your life, you took a minute and thought about what you were doing and saying, rather than just throwing a bucket of slop against the wall and seeing what sticks.
Sorry Brian, I have a life and am far too busy to read your lengthy posts. I’ll do my best to get back to your comments later tonight. Would be possible for you to make a comment here that did not contain a personal attack? That would be very much appreciated.
If this is all a big joke, it’s because you have made it so. You undermine the Republican Party with every choice you make, and you undermined the integrity of the vote by departing from established practice. If there’s one thing that is a HUGE no-no in counting votes, it’s changing the rules after the votes have been cast.
What’s that old phrase, again? “It’s not the people who vote that count. It’s the people who count the votes.”
I have undermined nothing. We have done everything our power to ensure this election was held properly, every vote that should be counted was counted, and that we got things done accurately.
We have not departed from any established practices, every decision the Board made was based on the law and our understanding of SBE guidelines. Period.
The people who vote count, and the folks who count the votes need to be people of integrity and honesty. You may think I’m not or the Democrat on the board isn’t, but I know Steve Hunt is, I know Cameron Quinn is.
“We have not departed from any established practices”
Is that so? Then why did you make the exact opposite claim directly to me while this was going on?
When did I do that? I have said from the beginning that we have followed SBE guidance even when we disagreed with it.
You can’t even keep your story straight, can you? Go ahead and comb your own tweets for the ones you’re going to need to delete to pretend in the latest version of the story that you’ve convinced yourself is true. I’m certainly not going to make covering this one up any easier on you by showing you exactly what you’re going to have to talk yourself out of this time.
I’ve kept my story straight. That you can’t pull this up immediately demonstrates to me that you are pulling nonsense out of thin air. This would be the first time in history you think you’ve caught me in a contradiction and don’t lay the goods on me immediately.
So either prove it or admit you’re wrong.
It is so much more fun to watch you stew for awhile! You know I know you haven’t been straight, but you’ve probably not been straight with so many people that you can’t put your finger on which deception specifically we’re talking about here.
Oh, do you deserve this like nobody’s business. I’ll tell you tomorrow, because it will give me immense pleasure to know you were up all night wondering what precisely I’ve got you caught in. Keep digging that hole, mate.
If you honestly think I’m spending more than ten seconds wondering what possible contradiction you think you’ve caught me in, you’re delusional. But we already know that.
If you think you’ve caught me in a contradiction, the likelihood is you didn’t understand what I said or the context in which I said it.
If you’re talking about the “past practice” tweet, I just explained that to David above here.
It’s not hard to keep your story straight when you’re simply telling what happened. That’s what I’ve been doing.
As for deserves, the only thing I deserve right now is to not have people like you accusing me of things I haven’t done.
Yeah, sorry, that doesn’t cut it. You have a serious conflict of interest being the FCRC General Counsel and sitting on the county electoral board making highly controversial decisions that a FCRC General Counsel properly ought to be screaming to the high heavens about. As a lawyer, of course, you should have been trained to recognize this as a conflict of interest in your sleep. And you had an obligation to the FCRC to resign as counsel the moment you became the object of dispute.
This issue is going to have serious ramifications for the FCRC itself if they back this version of what you currently believe to be true.
Also, that was only one of the deceptions – plural – I have in mind. What you deserve, Brian, is a trial – as defendant.
I haven’t been FCRC’s General Counsel since I was appointed to the Board. I resigned last March.
Here’s my LinkedIn profile: http://www.linkedin.com/in/brianschoeneman/
The FCRC appears to believe otherwise: http://fairfaxgop.org/executive-committee/
That hasn’t been updated to reflect a number of changes. Ralph Hubbard, for instance, hasn’t been Sully District chair in over six months.
I resigned when I got appointed and was sworn in. You can confirm that with Jay McConville. I haven’t been to an Executive Committee meeting since I was appointed, and I haven’t acted on FCRC’s behalf in anything since March.
At the time I was appointed, I was counsel of record for FCRC on the FCDC v. Quinn lawsuit. I made a motion to withdraw, which was granted by the court and Joe Underwood replaced me as FCRC’s counsel. He’s been serving as the de facto General Counsel since I resigned.
As usual, you have no idea what you’re talking about. Better stop while you’re ahead before you embarrass yourself any more.
How exactly was anyone else to know that you were no longer FCRC General Counsel and that Underwood is? That contradicts the official FCRC website, there was no public notice, no notice to membership, and others I know at the FCRC weren’t aware of it. No press release, no nothing.
If you are in fact no longer FCRC General Counsel, this may be the first anybody but you Joe and Jay know about it, which is a scandal in and of itself. I see no evidence anywhere in the public domain of this information.
I don’t know what else to tell you. It was pretty obvious that I wasn’t GC anymore, and anybody in leadership could have told you that, including the Executive Director, or Jay. It wasn’t my responsibility to put out a press release when I resigned. I served at the pleasure of the Chairman, and we both agreed I should step down when the appointment came through. That’s what happened. I don’t control the website. I’m just an FCRC member, like anybody else now.
There’s no scandal. Honestly, if you guys worked half as hard at getting Republicans elected as you do trying to smear me, we’d have won all three statewide races.
You don’t think it’s a scandal that the FCRC doesn’t have a general counsel at this time when it needs a lawyer representing it in this case?
You don’t think it’s a scandal that this move was made without informing anybody at all?
Do you realize that your post above is the first anyone outside the handful of people in the leadership clique ever heard of this?
You didn’t think it important at all to ever mention it to anyone before?
You didn’t think it a problem that for 8 months now the FCRC has been publicly representing that you are still the GC?
This may be old news to you, Brian, but to Republicans in Fairfax – outside of what, 3-5 people in your inner circle – this is breaking news. I’ve spoken to other FCRC members since you made that relevation and they didn’t know a damn thing about it.
Also there is no public record of Underwood being involved in the Quinn case either, unless that is buried in PACER – so that is also breaking news.
These are serious issues, Brian. FCRC has no counsel representing it in this matter? FCRC has abandoned the field???
BREAKING NEWS!!! You heard it here first folks, on The Bull Elephant!
As I understand it, Joe Underwood has been serving as the de facto general counsel as needed. No, I don’t think there is any scandal here. Jay wasn’t hiding anything from anybody, and I’m pretty sure it was clear when he was introducing me at meeting as the electoral board member, and I wasn’t sitting with the executive committee that I wasn’t GC anymore.
And, no, my post above isn’t the first anybody has heard about this. Anybody who cared could easily have asked Jay, me or anybody else about it. It’s a non-issue.
As for the Quinn litigation, FCRC withdrew as a defendant with leave after I withdrew as counsel. Joe took care of that. I had nothing to do with that.
You are trying to create something out of nothing.
Get a new hobby.
You make public statements on a daily basis, you have previously used your FCRC General Counsel position to burnish your GOP credentials, yet you never saw fit to ever make a statement letting anyone know about your resignation?
You don’t think that at a minimum the members of the FCRC had a right to know this? You don’t think it’s a material problem when there are legal issues with an election here in Fairfax? What, if anything, has Underwood done with regards to this election? Is the FCRC effectively without legal representation with respect to the issues under dispute?
Don’t you think at the very least, Mark Obenshain had the right to know about this?
Were any of your fellow authors at BD aware of this?
This is dumb.
My Linkedin profile has been the same since I resigned. My website says I served (past tense) as GC. So does my resume. And my Facebook political page. I haven’t held myself out as FCRC’s general counsel since March. I’ve made plenty of statements indicating I am not in that job, and have been for months.
Anybody who cared to know could have easily found out. All they had to do was ask. But until tonight, not a single person has asked me. And while you love to criticize me for being a media hound, now you’re complaining that I didn’t call a press conference to announce my resignation from the GC job? Really?
FCRC has been well represented by Keith Damon in the canvass process, as he has been representing FCRC for years. Matt Ames is an attorney, Jay has access to a host of other attorneys if necessary, and the Obenshain campaign and RPV have has lawyers all over the place. There was no lack of lawyers throughout the process.
All of my fellow BD authors were aware of this. Honestly, everybody who cared knew. This is the first I’m hearing that anybody honestly thought I was still general counsel. The whole idea is ludicrous on its face. There is no way I could do both jobs at the same time, and I would never have tried to.
A stealth edit on your personal pages is not exactly a public release. You didn’t need a press conference, a simple statement that the change was made and informing the members of the FCRC would have been plenty sufficient. Doing it completely silent so that the rest of the party is caught completely by surprise when a legal issue arises is not sufficient.
“Anybody who cared to know could have easily found out.” is no excuse. This is not the kind of thing that people are supposed to find out about only after it becomes a problem. Everyone I’ve communicated with so far on FCRC had no idea of this change, and none of them think it’s a nothingburger. Who would have thought to ask this before it became a problem? And who would have suspected a change at all, given that at this very moment FCRC’s website still claims you hold the position? Where’s the record to back up that you have actually resigned? There is literally no evidence of this anywhere other than your say-so from this evening.
There’s no mention of Damon in the news, either. Is the FCRC being represented in this matter specifically or not, and if so, who is the counsel?
This wasn’t a stealth edit. It was simply a change designed to recognize what was truth – I resigned and wasn’t GC anymore. As soon as I told Jay “as soon as I’m sworn in I’ll resign and withdraw as counsel of record in the lawsuit” and he said “okay” it was done. Didn’t need anything more than that.
Jay didn’t publicize it, which is his prerogative. Once I’d resigned, it wasn’t my concern anymore. There doesn’t need to be any evidence – it happened, and everybody who was in the chain of command knows it happened. Jay McConville, Joe Underwood, David Skiles and I met in late February to handle the transition.
If you want evidence, here’s a copy of the motion I made to withdraw that was accepted by the court, here it is: http://bit.ly/1956orT
I’m sure I have a copy of the signed Order granting the withdrawal somewhere, but not easily accessible. It’s in my files and they have all been packed away. Regardless, feel free to call Judge Smith’s clerk to confirm if you are that desperate.
That the website wasn’t updated was a screw up, and that’s to be expected since we changed over Executive Directors a few months ago. I’ve already asked that they fix it. The website doesn’t matter. I wasn’t GC, I took no affirmative actions to induce anybody to think I was still GC, I didn’t engage in any representations, period.
Anybody who thinks this is a big deal should talk to Jay, Matt Ames or David Skiles about it. They’ll learn pretty quickly that it’s not a big deal.
Keith Damon is the Election Committee Chairman for FCRC. He’s also one of the 11th District State Central Committee members, and if you don’t know who he is, you are clearly paying zero attention to FCRC and internal Republican Party politics. He’s been a fixture for a decade.
This is all patently ridiculous. Seriously.
I know who Keith Damon is, have met him face to face, and have talked with him at some length. That’s not the question. The big reveal here is apparently that the FCRC has no lawyer handling this matter, while the FCDC does.
So I ask again, does the FCRC actually have a lawyer representing it in the instant case (election dispute), and if so, who is it?
There is no “instant case.” There is no “election dispute” arising out of the 2013 General Election.
FCRC is no longer involved in the FCDC v. Quinn lawsuit, either.
As I have said multiple times now, Joe Underwood – to the best of my knowledge – is acting as general counsel as necessary. Joe is a former FCRC Chair and a well known litigator in Fairfax County.
So in other words, the FCRC doesn’t feel it necessary to send a lawyer to look out for the party’s interests here, while the FCDC did send one.
No, there were multiple lawyers sent. There was just no one designated “general counsel.” FCRC was well represented.
In terms of lawyers, Matt Ames, Miller Baker, Chris Ashby, Patsy Drain and at least one other lawyer whose name escapes me at the moment.
Thank you. As we know, the FCDC sent their general counsel who fought – physically as well as metaphorically – for the rights of Democrat voters.
Were any of these lawyers that you named here actually representing the FCRC in any official capacity such as the FCDC had? Or were they acting independently, or for a different GOP organization?
This whole thing gets more and more curious.
Okay, after a thorough review of the facts I am ready to concede certain points.
Point one, no decision that was made by the Fairfax election board, of which you are a member, is likely to have altered the outcome of the election.
Point two, counting every valid vote is a laudable goal and that it should happen to be in a highly populated +20D county is not material to the question.
Point three, independent GOP advocates were present during the process and did show up to the battle.
Here’s where you made your mistake: by distributing the lists of provisionals, you directly defied the SBE’s directive in a most underhanded manner. (Which is even more mystifying as it probably didn’t alter the outcome.) Where you failed to uphold your duty is your responsibility to equal treatment under the law – you knew that the practice you adopted was not only counter to SBE guidance, but it broke the rule of uniformity that equal treatment demands.
You are afflicted with something I’ve dubbed “McCain Syndrome”. You want the Democrats to like you so badly, you’ll jump at any opportunity to throw your own party under the bus. This is the extent of your fault here, rather than having altered the outcome.
You see, the reason you sit on that board as a partisan appointment is to give our party members reasonable assurance that the system isn’t being rigged against us, that we’re represented in the process. By bending over backwards, breaking explicit SBE guidance not to distribute the list of provisionals to the parties, you failed to provide us that assurance in favor of providing the other party that assurance.
So we’re back to you acting like a Democrat and not a Republican again. Every time, you make the decision to favor the other party; whether it is in your policy choices or in your warped and narrow idea of “fairness”, you will always find a way to rationalize whatever it takes to make Democrats like you. You showing up on Maddow’s show is a perfect example of this narcissistic predisposition, and reveals your true intended audience. No Republican watches Maddow, so by going on that show your clear intention was to speak to Democrats only.
I would wager I speak for the majority of the Republican Party in this county when I say you are not a good representative of our party or its valid, lawful interests – in this specific case, the interest of equal treatment under the law, the essence of the Rule of Law itself – and it is time you stepped down in the best interest of the party to which you claim to adhere.
We didn’t violate any SBE directives. We made our decision to provide a list of the information parties were allowed to have before SBE issued their latest guidance. After they did, both myself, Cameron, and one of our acting Deputy General Registrars (all three Republicans) reviewed what we planned to do with what SBE’s guidance said and each determined independently that what we were doing was within the letter and spirit of the guidance and we did not have to change what we said we would do. All of the information we released was information the parties were entitled to per SBE and we did not release any confidential information, or provide any copies of the full provisional ballot log, as SBE told us we could not. That was uniform, as each jurisdiction should have been making the information available to the parties as part of the provisional ballot meeting, per SBE. Whether they had to handwrite notes or got a printed list is pointless hair splitting. And, again, everything we did in that regard was unanimous – the Board voted to provide the list, so this again wasn’t me doing something unilaterally.
Our lists were given to both parties and both parties used them to call voters. That was within their prerogative.
We’ve already been over this ground a few times now. You saying what we did was wrong doesn’t make it wrong. It wasn’t wrong. We were not the only jurisdiction who provided lists.
As for “McCain disease,” again, you’re wrong and you’re thinking two dimensionally. Republicans should be able to rest assured that I am protecting the party’s interests, but at the same time, I have a duty to the citizens of Fairfax that is above and beyond any partisan duty. I could care less if the Democrats or if you like me. I do my job to the best of my ability, and the decisions I make are guided by my principles – and one of those is that the right to vote is fundamental and shouldn’t be taken from someone because of a bureaucrat’s error.
Me going on Maddow had nothing to do with trying to get Democrats to like me. It had everything to do with trying to make sure that whatever spin she and the Democrats put on what was going on in Virginia wasn’t going to harm the party. Did I attack Republicans? No. Did I slam Obenshain? No. Did I attack the General Assembly? No. I was fair and it was a good interview, which was carried on national television and which a large number of voters in Fairfax had a chance to watch. That’s why I did it. And yes, Republicans do watch MSNBC – we all should, if only to hear what the other side is saying.
You don’t speak for the majority of anybody, Alexis. And I hope that you come to the FCRC meeting on December 17 and get to hear me speak directly to the organization about what happened and perhaps you’ll actually have the guts to introduce yourself to me in person. I know that won’t happen, though.
You’d best be careful, many of us have seen the tweets where you DO contradict yourself.
Last week you said that I was angry and bitter and out to get you, now I’m retired and just having fun while undermining democracy! Wow! Who knew I could have so much fun and be so powerful at the same time?! Thanks Bri!
Brian, here’s my take:
2) Mostly correct, I think, but I admit I don’t really know how/when provisionals could be reconsidered. I know that it would have to be pursuant to court order, but just don’t know for sure if that’s beyond the purview of the recount court.
4) “Provisional voters in Fairfax were not treated differently than voters anywhere else.” Laughably wrong.
One other point, I don’t think Jeanine is lying. She relied on AP’s mis-characterization of certain facts. That does not make her deceptive or dishonest, only mistaken.
We can agree to disagree on #4, but again, whatever we did with provisionals had zero impact on the overall race. That we needed more time to complete our process and allowed voters to come in throughout that time wasn’t a uniformity issue.
When she consistently gets things wrong, even after she’s been corrected, when she continues to pretend that I have any power to make decisions alone without the Board acting, when she effectively makes accusations without facts, it’s hard for me to believe that she’s being honest. If she’s not lying, then she could at least correct the story. I’m not even asking for an apology, I just don’t want bad information out there.
You’re the one peddling the story so you’re the one I address. The other board members are not television or commenting all over the internet. If you can’t stand the heat, you might want to shut up. Just a thought……………
I’m the spokesman for the Board. It’s my job to be on television and addressing concerns. It’s also called being a transparent and accountable public official.
You guys are really hilarious – demanding I throw press conferences to announce when I’ve quit a job, then attacked for communicating information that people actually want to know.
Informing people who have a right to know and whose business (decision-making by the FCRC in particular) may be affected by the change doesn’t require a press conference, a simple statement would have sufficed.
Communicating information is good. Having to pull things out of you with a team of horses, not so good. Seeing you bend over backwards to accommodate the other side while being somewhat hostile to members of your own party who aren’t comfortable with what they see, not good either.
When I advanced the hypothesis that your heart truly lies with the Democrats and not the GOP, I was being a bit of a devil’s advocate at first, but that thesis has held up better than I ever expected it to hold up. Perhaps you should be mindful to treat your fellow Republicans as well as you treat Democrats.
I treat everyone the same. When Democrats attack me, I respond. When Republicans attack me, I respond. Again, I didn’t respond harshly to anybody just asking questions. But given your history of attacking me, you’ll have to forgive me if I didn’t treat you like I would a perfect stranger.
I can understand when Democrats attack me – they don’t know any better and too often they act like all Republicans are evil. That’s easy to ignore. But when Republicans attack me, especially those who should know better, I have a lower tolerance for that.
As I have repeatedly said, every guy I voted for on election day lost. I have zero reason to want to skew the results towards the Democrats or accommodate them. I made my decisions based on what I thought was right. That’s it.
I don’t see why any Republican would “know better” when it comes to you. I can’t think of a single instance when you, left entirely up to your own judgement, preferred a Republican position to a Democratic one – not in your actions in any public capacity, and not in your writings on BD.
Combined with your long record of less “tolerance” (by your own admission) for Republicans and that adds up to having every reason to suspect your motives. Applying “trust but verify” to you leaves one without verification. There is nothing but your own claims to say that you adhere to the Republican Party’s goals in any way.
A Republican should know better because I’m clearly a Republican. I was registered as a Republican in Pennsylvania. I’m a dues paying member of FCRC. I donate to the Party. Every donation I have made, which you can review on FEC.gov or VPAP, is to Republicans. I ran for office as a Republican. I’ve worked for a Republican presidential administration. I’m one of two Republican appointees on the Electoral Board. I’m all over the internet as a Republican. I’m on Fox News and MSNBC listed as a Republican. I’ve spent the last three years writing as a Republican on three different Republican blogs. What more verification do you want? Why would I pretend to be a Republican if I’m not one? The whole argument is patently absurd.
You can say that “you can’t think of a single instance” but that’s because you’re not thinking. All of my writings are available on my website. It’s hilarious to me that you’d say that when the left calls me a “right wing nutjob.” It’s not hard, unless you’re desperately trying to pretend I’m not a Republican. And all of my “public actions” have been taken with another Republican at my side agreeing with me, so if you’re saying I’m not acting like a Republican, you’re saying the same thing as Steve Hunt. And anybody who says that with a straight face is certifiable.
I have less tolerance for Republicans trashing me than I do Democrats, because Republicans should know better.
That I am for tolerance and civility in politics doesn’t make me a Democrat. It just means I have different core principles than you do.
You can call yourself a deity or King of the Universe, but that doesn’t make it so. Your actions of late belie your assertions that you are a republican. Don’t worry about it, at this point no one cares.
All that wind and you were not able to come up with a single policy on which you actually agree with the Republican Party. That’s the verification I want, and it’s wholly wanting.
I’ve already done this for you before. I’m pro-life, pro-gun, believe in low taxes, reducing regulation, strong national defense, federalism and reducing the scope of the federal government, fiscal conservatism that addresses the debt and deficit without taking a meat ax to good programs, personal responsibility, religious freedom, and a couple dozen other Republicans issues.
I have written at least a hundred blog posts. Go read some.
You don’t want verification. You want to play games. Because the verification is all out there. Again, you have yet to answer the most fundamental question – why would I claim to be a Republican if I’m not? What possible good does it do me?
You say that stuff in the abstract, but every time in the specific you contradict it. For example, a particular conversation we had about the NSA comes to mind, which blows out of the water any suggestion that you believe in reducing the scope and power of government. You still haven’t acknowledged that they operate way out of the bounds of the law, even though their own secret court and the author of the law itself that they rely on have said so on multiple occasions!
Whatever you have convinced yourself that you THINK you support, what you actually support, by the record, is an all-powerful central government and a people with no rights or protections under law at all.
I can think of reasons for you to claim to be a Republican when you’re not, and none of them are good.
I say that stuff in the abstract, because that’s what I believe in the abstract. When we go from abstract to specific, I have different rationales for what I believe in. I do believe in reducing the scope and power of the federal government, but I view the NSA as a national security issue so I treat that differently. You don’t. That’s your opinion, and I have my own.
I know what I support. What you think I support doesn’t matter. And it’s completely self serving for you to quote my “record” as what I’ve written, and then cherry pick and ignore other things I’ve written when they don’t fit your narrative. I came out early calling Obamacare unconstitutional because of the individual mandate, I’ve argued against the federal government using the tax code to coerce behavior – all positions designed to reduce the size of government.
That I don’t share your paranoia about the NSA doesn’t contradict my overall stance.
You’re right – you can’t think of any good reasons why I’d claim to be a Republican when I’m not because there aren’t any.
” I came out early calling Obamacare unconstitutional because of the
individual mandate, I’ve argued against the federal government using the
tax code to coerce behavior”
Prove it. Google isn’t helping your case, and neither are the parts of your record that CAN be substantiated.
I give you no credit for saying Obamacare is unconstitutional well over a year after a popular uprising based on just that (AKA the Tea Party, I’m sure you heard of it). If you were at the protests in April 2009 I’d give credit for that. Doing it when the entire GOP had capitulated to the Tea Party surge of 2010 is camp following. Also, if I recall your philosophy, once the Supreme Court has spoken, theirs is the Word of God when it comes to the law.
Which leaves the one singular example you have of being Republican a direct response to having been browbeaten for months (notably by yours truly) over your support of the transportation tax. Note the comment I left on your article at the time, expressing total shock that you’d written an article that completely contradicted everything you’d argued to me on policy up to that point. And from the other comments it is clear that I am not the only one who noticed it was a complete change of position.
So you’ve been writing articles for at least 3 years now and you can come up with all of two examples among them of sharing policy with the GOP, the first of which was hopping on a bandwagon that had long left the station and which we need to doubt because of your more recently-expressed view of Supreme Court decisions as definitive, and the second one so remarkably divergent from all your other views that it shocked everyone who read it.
And you wonder why I think you are a Democrat masquerading as a Republican.
You are such a joke, Alexis. The law was signed into law on March 23, 2010 and I had an article the individual mandate out TWO DAYS later – when almost nobody had even read the bill yet – but that’s not good enough. Okay.
My on taxes wasn’t a change of position. It was my response to the people whining about the transportation bill, trying to explain to them that there a taxes for legitimate purposes and taxes for illegitimate purposes, and they were complaint about the wrong things.
I’ve been writing articles for three years, most of which are linked off of my website, and I am not about to comb through all of them to answer your asinine question. You have more free time than I do, I’m sure you can do the research for yourself.
How many more times do I need to blow your nonsense theories about me up before you concede you’re completely wrong?