By Mark Berg
This Friday, the State Central Committee (SCC) will consider an “appeal” by former Frederick County Republican Committee (FCRC) Chairman Andy Robbins (hereinafter “Robbins”) concerning the Frederick County Mass Meeting held on March 8, 2016.
In that Mass Meeting, the FCRC was reconstituted and, much to the consternation of the Old Guard establishment, I was duly elected Chairman. Many Frederick County Republican voters despised the local establishment Republicans and felt that several were corrupt, so it is not surprising that the voters elected new leaders over the establishment’s hand-picked choices.
I am not going to go into the issues of dishonesty, deceit, and disenfranchisement within the previous FCRC administration at this point, except for the most recent one. That is the “appeal” that you are to consider on Friday. The word appeal is in quotes because I use that specific terminology only to be consistent with other information you may have heard or read about this issue.
Robbins sent this appeal initially to the 10th District Committee, and he begins his appeal with this paragraph:
Thank you for considering this appeal. Your first question will no doubt be, “why is this being presented to us? Should it have been heard first by the Frederick County Republican Committee (FCRC)?” Normally, yes. However, in this case, the issues arose at the biennial reorganizational meeting of the FCRC. It is the contention of those of us who are presenting this appeal that, as you read this document, there is no FCRC to which we can appeal. [bold emphasis added]
The first question that the State Central Committee must answer is this:
“Is this appeal validly before the State Central Committee?”
The clear and unequivocal answer is “No.”
There are two points here that are apropos. First and foremost is the fact that the appeal should have been heard initially in the Frederick County Republican Committee. Since it was not, the appeal was not properly before the 10th District Committee and therefore is not properly before the SCC now.
The second point need not be belabored, in light of the overriding strength and importance of the first point just made, but I will point it out briefly. That is, a District Committee Chairwoman does not have the authority1 to intentionally withhold an appeal from her committee and then to unilaterally decide to send the appeal to the SCC, as the 10th District Chairwoman has done.2
1 ARTICLE X Rulings and Appeals, SECTION B. Contests
Each District Committee shall . . . hear and decide all timely appeals taken from units . . . within the District
Appeals . . . shall be heard and a decision rendered by the committee to which the appeal was made within fourteen (14) days of receipt of the appeal. If no decision has been rendered in writing at the end of thirty days, the appeal . . . may be made directly to the next level of appeal as if an adverse decision had been rendered.
2 See “April 4th_ 10th CD Meeting Call.doc”
As to the first point mentioned above, Robbins himself states that such an appeal would normally go to the FCRC. However, he then goes on to say that there is no FCRC to which he could appeal. That is blatantly false. The results of the Mass Meeting—that is, the election of the FCRC Chairman and membership, and the credentialing of Delegates to the 10th District and State Conventions—stand until and unless a valid appeal is heard and those results are overturned. That Robbins himself, in his appeal, deems the results of the Mass Meeting invalid is preposterous.3
The Republican Party Of Virginia Plan Of Organization (Party Plan) is clear that appeals of actions that occur at Mass Meetings are to be heard in the Unit Committee having jurisdiction.4 There are no exceptions given, and neither Robbins nor any other member of an Official Republican Committee has authority to decide that an exception exists.
Two different General Counsels for the RPV (including current General Counsel Chris Marston), as well as two different appeals recently heard by the SCC, have involved the issue of appeals of actions occurring at Mass Meetings. All have consistently upheld the plain meaning of the Party Plan that the Unit Committee shall hear appeals related to Mass Meetings.
In addition, just last year, Winchester Republican Chairman Beau Correll, 10th District Chairwoman Jo Thoburn, RPV Chairman John Whitbeck, and RPV General Counsel (GC) Chris Marston provided written correspondence clearly and strongly stating that appeals go first to the Unit Committee.
Finally, precedents show that similar appeals of Mass Meeting actions have been taken to the Unit Committees. Precedents and GC rulings also confirm that, unless and until the actions of the Mass Meeting are ruled invalid or out of order (after valid and timely appeal), they stand. These GC rulings, SCC appeals, and correspondence, as well as reference to Robert’s Rules of Order, are found in the document “Mass Meeting Appeals Go to Unit Committees.doc.”
There can be no doubt that this appeal by Robbins should have been taken first5 to the FCRC, and it should have been done within thirty (30) days of the date of the Mass Meeting. As such, since the appeal did not go to the FCRC within thirty days, the SCC must refuse to hear this invalid appeal. The SCC must also make it clear to all parties that there can not now, nor in the future, be any valid appeal to the FCRC or any other Official Committee concerning any actions taken at this Frederick County Republican Mass Meeting, including the election of the FCRC Chairman and the FCRC membership, and the credentialing of Delegates to the 10th District and State Conventions.
3Robbins uses the classic circular argument (a fallacious argument containing an assumption of that which is to be proved) to make his case. He starts with the premise that the Mass Meeting assembly did not properly elect the FCRC membership, then asserts that the Mass Meeting was invalid because it did not perform its “primary purpose . . . to reconstitute the committee,” then draws the conclusion that, since the Mass Meeting was invalid, it did not properly elect the FCRC membership!
4 ARTICLE X Rulings and Appeals, SECTION B. Contests
- Each Unit Committee shall decide all controversies and contests arising within its jurisdiction, but those persons deemed adversely affected by any such decision shall have the right of appeal to the appropriate District Committee.
5 Robbins would have had the ability to appeal any adverse decision of the FCRC had he taken the appeal to the FCRC first, as required by the Party Plan and GC rulings. We need not question Robbins’ or anyone else’s motives for wanting to bypass the Unit committee and take this appeal straight to the 10th District Committee, nor should we consider such motives if offered. We must simply judge Robbins’ actions and uphold the “Rule of Law” as clearly detailed in the RPV rules.
Though the SCC assembly has final authority in its decisions on issues properly before it, it must not rule to uphold the validity of this appeal. To do so would be contrary to the Party Plan and various GC rulings, and would expose the RPV to further liability and potential action. The SCC must take a strong stand for the Rule of Law, lest it become complicit in the breakdown of the Republican Party and the further elimination of liberty.
Thank you for your attention to this matter.
Mark J. Berg, Chairman
Frederick County Republican Committee