If you thought that the drama around slating and Democrat voting in Republican elections were over, then you would be dead wrong!
The Republican Party of Virginia has an appeals process for affected individuals who believe a GOP internal election (at a mass meeting or local canvass) violated the Party rules, which in turn disenfranchised voters and impacted the outcome of the election: 1) first appeal to your local Unit committee, 2) then you may appeal to the GOP District Committee, and then 3) final appeals are heard and ruled on by the RPV State Central Committee. This Saturday in Short Pump the RPV State Central Committee will be hearing appeals on multiple issues and making final rulings that will (hopefully) end the feud and resolve any outstanding issues from this past spring’s Party elections, where “slating” became such a divisive issue. Emails are flying fast and furious as individuals try to influence votes on the State Central Committee. Let’s recap the primary disputes.
1st District, Fauquier County – Fauquier County held a Party Canvass to elect their local GOP Chairman and other members to their local GOP Committee. I wrote about how this election was carried out, which was pretty astonishing. Emails and flyers clearly demonstrated that one side was actively encouraging participation from Democrats and other non-Republicans. Fauquier is the home of Martha Boneta, who had been in a long battle with her county government and the liberal, Democrat-dominated Piedmont Environmental Council. Evidence was produced that members of the Piedmont Environmental Council also had participated in this election. As a result, the 1st District GOP Committee ruled:
[T]hat the canvass was improper, and required that new elections be held, with customary safeguards to exclude those voters who are not qualified to participate under the state GOP’s rules
This ruling of the 1st District GOP Committee has been appealed by the losing side to the State Central Committee. SCC will decide whether to sustain or reverse the ruling of the 1st District Committee.
2nd District, Virginia Beach – This was the election that seemed to birth all other controversies throughout Virginia. The local GOP Chairman seat and the 2nd District Chairman seat were both being contested. Democrats and City employees were recruited to participate in the Virginia Beach Mass Meeting. Ken Longo won Virginia Beach Chairman. Senator Frank Wagner (running for 2nd District Chairman) slated off hundreds of delegates to ensure his victory at the 2nd District GOP Committee. The Mass Meeting was appealed to the unit committee, and they chose not to exercise their rights for a full hearing. The appeal went further to the 2nd District Committee, which ruled that the Mass Meeting had violated Robert’s Rules of Order, among other things. The delegates excluded by Wagner’s allies were able to eventually attend the 2nd District Convention, where Wagner’s opponent, Curtis Colgate, won his bid for 2nd District Chairman. More shenanigans have been ensued, with Wagner engineering (an unauthorized special meeting of the 2nd District Committee that purported to overturn the Convention results), but an appeal of that subsequent meeting is now before the State Central Committee. Wagner is seeking for the original 2nd District Committee ruling to be vacated and the original slating tactics of the Mass Meeting to be upheld as legitimately executed.
5th District, Campbell County – The Campbell County GOP had a mass meeting to elect a Campbell GOP chairman and delegates to the state and 5th District GOP Conventions. Evidence was produced that emails were sent to all local government employees to attend and vote in the Campbell County GOP Mass Meeting. Scare tactics were used in those emails, telling employees that if they didn’t show up their budgets would be slashed and their jobs emperiled. Further, well known individuals who had openly opposed Republicans by running candidates against them participated in the meeting. They had a record turnout that gave the election to the candidate who had recruited government employees, Independents and Democrats. They also slated off over 100 loyal Republicans from the Campbell delegation to the 5th District Convention. The 5th District GOP Committee heard the appeal and ruled that the slated delegates should be seated at the 5th District Convention, but the convention (run by Congressman Robert Hurt in reality) ignored the ruling of the 5th District Committee (and an RPV General Counsel opinion) and refused to seat the delegates. The disenfranchised delegates have appealed to the State Central Committee and their hearing is also this Saturday.
The State Central Committee will be confronted with some big questions and big personalities on Saturday. It really comes down to whether or not we are going to protect the election/nomination process in our Party. I thought that Cameron Jones (candidate for Fauquier GOP Chairman who was disenfranchised with Democrat voting in the GOP Canvass) put it best in his latest communication to State Central Committee members (excerpt):
Our Party stands for many great and wonderful things. Among those, and what is most important to the entire community, is that we stand for integrity in our conduct, and the principles of free and fair elections.
Our local committees are vital guarantors of the integrity of our Party principles.
Recognizing that Article One of our Party Plan does not say how this eligibility is to be determined, it leaves no doubt that a committee must do something to determine if participants are in accord with the principles of the Republican Party. The FCRC, by their own admission, did nothing to attempt to verify anything other than voter registration in our March 2014 Canvass.
Not only did the FCRC take no actions to verify eligibility of participants, some supporters of my opponent, and at least one candidate in the election, actively encouraged and recruited Democrats and other non-Republicans to vote in the Canvass, and informed them there would be no requirement to be a Republican to participate.
I have attached emails received during the campaign which prove this claim, and one that shows my conversation with Chairman Thorpe over this issue, 20 days before the election.
In light of these facts, the 1st District Committee heard my appeal of the FCRC ruling, and on 28 June they voted overwhelmingly (16-8) to uphold my appeal, ruling that the FCRC Canvass had not been conducted in accordance with the RPV Plan of Organization.
We are now on the eve of a decision by our State Central Committee which will determine the future of our Party. I respectfully ask that you show your disapproval of the type of tactics that have been used in places like Mississippi; the practice of using Democrats to win Party elections.
I ask that you send a clear message to Fauquier and other committees around Virginia that we are not going to turn decisions about our Party, or the election of our leaders, over to Democrats.
Over 500 good Fauquier Republicans, and many others all across Virginia, are watching and hoping that you make the right decision on August 16th and uphold the ruling of the 1st District Committee.