It seems that some who have been elected delegates to the 7th District Republican Convention are now being called into a private inquiry hearing by the Chesterfield Credentialing Committee to defend why they should be allowed to attend and vote as a delegate in the upcoming Republican Convention. The Call for Chesterfield County stated that the Chesterfield Canvass would be cancelled if the number of candidates filing to be delegates did not exceed the number of positions that could be filled – and the canvass was subsequently cancelled as a result of this clause. The Call also stated that:
All legal and qualified voters of Chesterfield County under the laws of the Commonwealth of Virginia, regardless of race, religion, national origin or sex, who are in accord with the principles of the Republican Party, and who, if requested, express in public meeting either orally or in writing as may be required, their intent to support all of its nominees for public office in the ensuing election, may participate as members of the Republican Party of Virginia in its mass meetings, party canvasses, conventions or primaries encompassing their respective election districts.
The Chesterfield delegate prefile form has this very statement on its form and asks the delegates to sign the form certifying that they agree to the above statement. Despite this fact, some delegates have received the following email:
Dear XXX, As the Chair of the Credentials Committee (Committee) of the Chesterfield County Republican Committee (CCRC), I am writing in regards to your pre-filing for election as a Delegate to the 2014 Seventh District Convention in Henrico, VA on May 10th. The Committee has requested that I invite you to attend our next meeting to discuss your interest in being a Delegate. The meeting will be held on Monday, April 7, 2014 at Winslow & McCurry, 1324 Sycamore Square 202C, Midlothian, VA 23113. The Committee requests you arrive at 7:20 PM. Prior to considering your eligibility as a Delegate, the Committee would like to discuss published statements made by you recently stating that you would support a candidate other than the Republican Nominee in the 2014 election. The Committee wishes to discuss these statements in light of your signed statement of intent to support the Republican nominees for U. S. Senate and House of Representatives in the 2014 General Election. We look forward to meeting with you on April 7th at 7:20 PM. Best Regards,
Mr. David Ross, in his capacity as the Chairman of the Spotsylvania Republican Committee that is also located in the 7th district, has requested General Counsel ruling and instructions from RPV Chairman regarding the CCRC Credentials Committee Inquiry Meeting. The letter submitted states:
Dear Mr. Putbrese, Mr. Marsden and Chairman Mullins,
As chairman of the Spotsylvania County Republican Committee within the 7th district, I am writing to request a General Counsel ruling on questions relating to the Party Plan and associated activities of the Chesterfield Republican Committee (CCRC) Credentials Committee that may bear directly on the 7th District Convention.
The chairman of the CCRC Credentials Committee sent the email below to certain individuals who were recently elected as Delegates to the upcoming 7th District Convention and/or the RPV State Convention. The email “invites” these individuals to a meeting to discuss their “interest in being a Delegate,” suggesting that they are not, in fact, already duly elected Delegates. As I understand it, the Delegates in question each signed the statement of intent to support all GOP nominees in the ensuing election (in the pre-file form), and otherwise satisfied the requirements for participation set forth in the official call and Article 1 of the State Party Plan. Each of the Delegates with whom I have spoken deny having said or published any intention not to support our nominees in 2014, though honestly I think the truth of this statement is irrelevant from a procedural standpoint.
I note that these Delegates all appear to be supporters of a certain candidate not favored by the CCRC leadership. In this context, the effort to “discuss” any issues with these Delegates seems more akin to an attempt to interrogate or intimidate opponents. Thus, I request a General Counsel ruling on each of the following questions:
1. Does a unit’s credentials committee or unit chairman have any authority after-the-fact to overturn the election of duly-elected delegates to a district or statewide convention? I suspect if any issue is to be had with these Delegates’ qualifications that it is now a question for the Convention’s credentials committee. This is because, among other reasons, these people have already been elected as per the attached Call, and, furthermore, a unit Committee has absolutely no authority over questions that are the exclusive purview of a mass meeting or canvass.
2. If, in the process of certifying the Delegates already elected by a mass meeting, or canvass or convention, it is discovered that a Delegate(s) is/are not qualified under Article I of the party plan (whether by simple lack of appropriate voter registration at the time of election or under more involved tests of Article I), should such Delegate(s) be certified to the Convention ? If not, should such disqualifications and refusal to certify a duly elected Delegate and the associated basis for disqualification be provided to the effected Delegate(s) and the Convention Credentials committee?
3. Does a meeting of a unit’s credentials committee constitute an “open meeting” as that term is used in Article I? I understand that that the full CCRC was not invited to this meeting, and that the meeting is not “open” to the general public (so that witnesses and other members of an official committee may observe and participate in the open meeting, etc). I also understand that Delegates did not receive notice of the meeting (much less an official call) at least 7 days in advance.
4. Can the automatic removal provision of Article VII, Section C (which is triggered by “opposition to a Republican nominee”) be applied when we do not yet have nominees for the upcoming election ? A related and perhaps more pressing question is whether this automatic removal provision—which explicitly only applies to members of an “Official Committee”—can be applied to Delegates elected by a canvass or mass meeting?
5. Can the automatic removal provisions of Article VII, Section C be applied to someone without serving some advanced disclosure of the specific charges and evidence? Should a credentials committee, whether it be of a Unit Committee, Mass Meeting, Canvass or Convention, provide some advanced disclosure of the specific charges and evidence so that the accused may prepare to defend himself (such as explain any misunderstanding or dispel any rumored or hearsay statement)?
I believe the CCRC Credentials Committee is entitled to invite whomever they wish to their meetings, but I do believe the activities in question suggest an intention to do more than just have a friendly conversation, so I want to make sure any actions by the CCRC are well-informed given their potential to affect my district’s convention. I note the date of the meeting is April 7th, so an urgent response is sought.
Separately, I would like to ask Chairman Mullins about the propriety of sharing Delegate lists with only the campaigns favored by the leadership of the CCRC. From what I understand, those lists are being shared with certain candidates and not with others, which strikes me as fundamentally unfair. So, Chairman Mullins, I request that you address the leadership of the CCRC and request that they share with all the candidates everything they have shared with just one or two, and that they release the list of Delegates immediately to all affected campaigns.
Chairman, Spotsylvania County Republican Committee
This letter raises all sorts of issues. We will watch to see how this develops…
UPDATE: The CCRC Credentialing Meeting met last night and questioned intensely at least one elected delegate, but ultimately this delegate was “reconfirmed” as a delegate during the inquiry hearing last night.