I greatly appreciate Jeanine Martin bringing attention to the important issue concerning Delegate Mark Berg’s resignation from the Republican Party of Virginia State Central Committee (“the SCC”), 10th Congressional District Republican Committee (“the 10th District”) and Frederick County Republican Committee (“FCRC”). I have already commented on this issue in the only media story on the issue in Winchester and have provided notice of this situation to every member of the SCC and every Unit Chairman in the Commonwealth.
However, Ms. Martin has done a disservice to her readers and to Republicans by editorializing without a full statement of the facts surrounding this situation and failing to give the RPV an opportunity to share its side of the story. The following will correct the record and show exactly why the General Counsel Ruling deeming Delegate Berg to have resigned from official Committees was the right decision. Moreover, you will see from the facts that Del. Berg was given every opportunity to correct the situation and chose not to do so.
For the sake of clarity, I should point out that Del. Berg was never removed from the Party, nor did he resign from the Party. There really is no such process because we do not register by Party in Virginia and I certainly do not have that power as Chairman. However, our Party does elect individuals to serve on the Official Committees that govern the Republican Party of Virginia (“RPV”). Up until October 31, 2015, Del. Berg was elected to serve on three Official Committees: the SCC, the 10th District and the FCRC. While individuals who serve on an Official Committees can be removed from their elected office after due process this did not happen to Del. Berg. Rather, he was deemed to have resigned from all Official Committees pursuant to Article 7, Section C, Paragraph 2 of the RPV Party Plan which states:
A member of an Official Committee is held to a higher standard of support for nominees of the Republican Party than an individual who merely participates in a mass meeting, party canvass, convention, or primary. Therefore, a member of an Official Committee is deemed to have resigned his Committee position if he (a) makes a reportable contribution to and/or (b) allows his name to be publicly used by and/or (c) makes a written or other public statement in support of a candidate in opposition to a Republican nominee in a Virginia General or Special Election. Such member may be re-instated by a majority vote of the other members of the Committee. (Emphasis added).
[Editorial Note: The original post has been updated to replace the word “removed” with “deemed to have resigned.”]
This Rule predates my becoming Chairman and is not a Rule that has regularly come into play in my experience as a member of SCC. Read the Rule very closely…it specifically states that members of Official Committees are “held to a higher standard” in terms of supporting the Republican nominees. This statement is powerful in the sense that it reminds us that members of an Official Committee are actually elected to represent the millions of Republicans around the Commonwealth and therefore are held to a higher standard in terms of their support for our nominees.
What the above Rule does not contain is due process. In other words, the resignation of a member of an Official Committee is automatic if they violate the Rule. There is nothing in the Rule that gives a member of an Official Committee a “hearing” or any other type of way to defend oneself. I frankly think that is wrong, but the Rule as currently written must be followed. Despite the lack of due process, when it came to my attention that Delegate Berg allegedly was violating the Rule, we actually gave Del. Berg a mechanism or “due process” to assure he was not deemed automatically resigned. In fact, members of SCC, friends of Del. Berg and myself bent over backwards to keep this from happening. Consider the following timeline of events:
Del. Berg selected a state-run primary as his nominating process for re-election this past cycle. He was defeated in that primary by Chris Collins. At that point, Delegate-Elect Collins became the Republican nominee. As a member of several official committees, Del. Berg had no obligation to endorse or actively support Mr. Collins (though he should have). All he was required to do was not violate the provisions of the above Rule.
For weeks the RPV and 10th District had been getting complaints from voters and FCRC members that a write-in campaign was being waged against Delegate-Elect Collins. A mailer containing Del. Berg’s name was issued, official Mark Berg for Delegate signs were posted around the District and letters to the editor were sent in to the local newspaper.
After several weeks of this, Chairwoman Jo Thoburn called Del. Berg and spent a long time trying to convince Del. Berg to disavow the write-in campaign and/or tell the individuals behind the campaign he did not authorize the use of his name. Del. Berg refused to do so. A prominent conservative leader then called Del. Berg to try to get him to disavow the write-in campaign. Del. Berg refused. Del. Berg could have been deemed resigned from Official Committees after these telephone calls, but we did not take any action at all in this regard at the time.
Instead, Chairwoman Thoburn contacted our General Counsel and requested legal advice on what her obligations were in the face of a groundswell of activists, elected officials and Party leaders demanding action against Del. Berg for the write-in campaign. Both the Chairwoman and I took this matter to be one of grave concern and we wanted to make sure everything possible was done before any resignation became public. RPV Counsel advised that Del. Berg was deemed to have resigned from all Official Committees.
However, even though Del. Berg was considered resigned from Official Committees at that time, I still felt it was imperative that we give him another opportunity to correct the situation. Thus, we did the following:
First, I sent Del. Berg a letter [NB: embedded below] stating “I believe it is only fair you have an opportunity to disavow the write-in effort.” Based on options provided me by our Counsel, I suggested that Del. Berg could remedy the situation by doing one of the following: 1) send a press release disavowing the campaign; 2) write a letter to the editor of a newspaper or blog; 3) post something to social media; 4) email constituents; and finally, and most notably 5) email party officials. In other words, all Del. Berg had to do according to our counsel was email us and let us know he was not supporting the write-in campaign. We gave Del. Berg until the Saturday before the election (approximately four days) to take action. Del. Berg’s wife replied to the letter saying they had seen it and would be responding.
Second, I called a prominent conservative leader who is very close to Del. Berg and asked him to please help me convince Del. Berg to state he did not authorize the use of his name. This individual was kind enough to make the call and try to reason with Del. Berg despite the fact that he wanted Del. Berg to win the election. Del. Berg refused.
Third, I had been invited by Del. Berg’s wife to speak at a fundraiser for a local candidate she was assisting on the Friday before the election (the day before the deadline for him to respond). Del. Berg was going to be attending. I drove out on that Friday night to the event with the intention of speaking with Del. Berg and trying to reason with him. He did not attend the event.
Keep in mind this was all going on when the RPV was in the midst of the 2015 election and all around the state we were fighting against the McAuliffe/Bloomberg onslaught of money in our state and local races.
Despite all of the events unfolding, I found the time to deal with this issue. I wish the Del. Berg had given this issue a similar priority. Unfortunately, Del. Berg never responded to our letter and took no action to disavow the write-in campaign. In fact, he did not respond to us at all.
After not getting a response from Del. Berg, I issued a letter to him informing him that he was deemed resigned from all Official Committees. [NB: also embedded below] Some folks have interpreted this as me removing Del. Berg from the Party and question whether I even have the authority to do so. The fact is, I absolutely do not have the authority to remove Del. Berg from an Official Committee. However, as Chairman, it is my job to follow the Rules and it was also my job to be the one to inform Del. Berg of his automatic resignation.
On a side note, let it be known that in 2012 Del. Berg and I worked together on our election to SCC. I also threw a fundraiser at my own expense for him when he got the nomination in 2013. In short, I have been a supporter of Del. Berg. I am very saddened by the fact that this occurred which is why I worked so hard to avoid it.
On another note, I would point out that last night, seven days after the election and almost two weeks after we brought the resignation problem to his attention, I was copied on an email to the 10th District wherein Del. Berg stated:
“Let me be clear – I did not allow my name to be used, I did not publicly endorse, nor did I affirm, any other campaign against the Republican nominee.”
Pursuant to the letter I sent him on October 28, 2015 this would have absolutely been sufficient for Del. Berg to maintain his position on all three Official Committees as one of the options he was given to correct the situation was an email to Party officials.
Del. Berg, if it is in fact true that you did not allow your name to be used, did not publicly endorse nor affirm the write-in campaign, why did not you send this email to the 10th District by the Saturday deadline or at least before the 2015 election? This all could have been avoided and I would have fought very hard on your behalf to show everyone that you did your duty as a member of three Official Committees. Instead though, you ignored our very reasonable attempt at giving you a way out and forced us to consider you resigned from all three Official Committees.
At this point Del. Berg has two options. First, he can appeal the General Counsel Ruling and attempt to have his resignation overturned. Second, he can be reinstated by a majority vote of the SCC, the 10th District and/or the FCRC. He had the opportunity to have someone make a Motion last night at the 10th District meeting to reinstate him and chose not to do so or no one wished to do so. Instead the entire 10th District committee, made up of Party members holding diverse views on issues and nominating processes, unanimously chose someone else to fill the seat. Del. Berg has instead appealed the General Counsel Ruling and we will be acting on that in accordance with the Party Plan.
As you can see, Ms. Martin’s post for whatever reason ignores almost every fact on the Party’s side of this issue, including misrepresenting the fact that Del. Berg was deemed resigned and not removed from his Party Committee memberships. I hope in the future Ms. Martin will be fair to all sides and ensure that individuals and organizations are given a fair opportunity to comment or at least tell their side of the story. We always get that courtesy from the liberal media and we should at least get the same courtesy from a conservative blogger.