Do you know the difference between an adult and a child? A child will not take responsibility for his/her actions. An adult, on the other hand, admits mistakes and takes the consequences of his/her actions. I began this piece with this distinction because it is necessary for you to understand where I am coming from.
Allow me to introduce myself, my name is Hud McWilliams, and I was the elected Treasurer of the Virginia Sixth Congressional District from May 2017 until June 2018. In that time, I have met some amazing people and been a part of some amazing things, all of which have been geared to elect Republicans to office, not only our Congressperson and Senator, but our local and district candidates as well.
I have been involved with the Lynchburg Committee for several years now, (I am currently taking a break from principal active involvement) and with the 6th district for a few years. In that time, I have noticed that there is a definite difference of thought about how Republicans should go about electing their representatives. Have we forgotten that the people we send to Washington, D.C., or Richmond are our Representatives? They are there to do what the citizens in their stated area ask them to do. This does not include doing things for the highest bidder, although that seems to be, in quite a few cases, the order of the day. A duly elected representative should stand by the statements they made to get elected, they should also listen to the citizens in their districts.
I digress. Since the beginning of this year, I have been hearing things that did not make sense to me. The biggest thing I read (in a Facebook post) was that somehow, Scott Sayre, in his capacity as Chair, had been funneling funds to Cynthia Dunbar. This confused me because the only checks that were written between Cynthia Dunbar (or her agents) and the Sixth District Committee, were checks written FROM Ms. Dunbar TO the Sixth District. During the examination of the books when I left the Treasurer position, this was found to be the case by the examination committee (Dan Cullers, Nancy Dye, Jonathan Comer, and Donald Helms).
So why wasn’t I asked about it? I have no idea. I am the only one who at the time could answer that question, and yet no one asked me. As I look back, it SEEMS (to me) that no one asked me because the supposition raised is what somebody wanted people to see, not whether there was any validity attached to said supposition.
Fast forward a bit to just before the Convention. I heard that there were some FEC complaints that had been leveled against the Sixth District. While everyone seemed to know about the complaints and what was in them BEFORE the convention, the actual complaints were filed on May 23 and 25. In case you wondered, this is four and six days AFTER the convention. How is something that is supposed to be confidential seemingly known to all before it has even been submitted to the FEC let alone been received by the respondent? There sure was much back and forth about it on Facebook.
Because the FEC has only one name when it comes to political committees, that of the treasurer, and complaints must be sent to a person, the complaints against the Va. Sixth District Committee were sent to me. When I received the complaints from the FEC (more properly termed MUR’s, or matter under review) I made some inquiries (and asked a couple of people I trust for help). I was told that I needed a law firm that specializes in FEC matters and that the best law firm for such things was the Bopp Law Firm. I then asked for help in contacting this law firm and was relieved to find that they were willing to help me. I asked for help on a personal level, not realizing that, as Treasurer, I was also asking from a Committee level. This was a time sensitive matter in that a response was required within 15 days of receipt of the MUR’s. The Bopp Law Firm was able to get an extension so that we had a bit of breathing room. There was no time (according to SIXTH DISTRICT Bylaws) to convene the committee to make this decision. One quick note, the motion made on June 23rd covers any expenses the committee incurs from that point, the work done by the Bopp Law firm before June 23rd is NOT covered by the committee, and that expense has been dealt with already.
Now, I must back up a step. Almost immediately after winning the race for Chair of the Sixth District, Ms. Jennifer Brown sent me three emails. It took me a while to respond for two reasons: first, I was teaching at Forest Middle School as a long-term sub and school was still in session. A long-term sub does much more than a regular daily sub. Secondly, the nature of Ms. Brown’s request was, in its nature not something that as a Treasurer I could legally do. She asked me to cease all financial activity, because she wanted to go over everything and decide herself whether to pay invoices that came in. While she does have some authority in this area, in this instance the committee had already voted to have the convention, and approved a budget, and, as such, until the committee reconvened, the previous motion was still valid. This means that I, as Treasurer, had a legal obligation to pay any invoice related to the convention, and at that point, the only invoices I received were Convention related. She also, at that time, asked that I turn over the books to her. This was not something that I could legally do. There needs to be an unbroken chain of custody for any financial records, which means that a Treasurer must only hand the books over to the incoming treasurer, not any other party. This does not mean that no one can examine the books, but rather that the examination MUST take place under the scrutiny of the Treasurer. As far as I know, in the Sixth District the Treasurers have never let the ACTUAL books out of their hands.
Ms. Brown and I were finally able to come up with a day where we were able to meet for her to examine the books and to put her name on the checking accounts and take the previous chair’s name off as a signatory. We met at the bank along with Craig Storrs and Steven “Doc’ Troxel to effect the change. For this meeting, I brought with me all the Sixth District Financial records, making it clear to Ms. Brown that she could peruse and take notes but could not take the actual records. Ms. Brown was amenable to this. Ms. Brown made a cursory examination of the books and I explained how I had recorded information. She asked for a total of each account which I provided, at this point the bank was closing, and I asked if she needed anything else, to which she replied, ‘No, I just wanted the total, so I could prepare a budget.’ Also, during this conversation, she asked about representation for the complaints, to which I told her that I had retained counsel personally, but because of my standing it meant I also retained counsel for the committee. Ms. Brown was grateful that counsel had been retained without any inquiry into what law firm I had retained.
Now, back to the complaints. When I read the complaints, the first thought through my head was, ‘Why did no one ask me?’ If I am on a team with someone, it is not my expectation that one of my team members will go to the referee and point out all the things that they believe their team members are doing wrong. This ends up getting a penalty called on yourself. How does one win a game when your own team is throwing penalty flags on you for perceived guilt? In both complaints, the complainants, as fellow team members (i.e., Republicans) SHOULD have come to their team mates and pulled them aside to point out their perception of what was happening. That can result in two things: first, the perception itself is corrected, or the teammate who has made a mistake can correct the mistake.
I was completely prepared to be at the previously called meeting 6th District GOP Committee in June. However, Ms. Brown changed the date and set it in the middle weekend of my vacation. Anyone who knows me knows that my wife takes precedent over everything else. Here is another ‘Why didn’t you just ask’ moment. More than half the people at that meeting knew why I wasn’t there and the reasoning. Instead of asking, a few people took to Facebook and, basically, called for my head. It wasn’t long after the meeting that I started seeing comments on Facebook about whether I was afraid to turn over the book, and was I ducking my responsibilities. I did answer a few of these complaints but always in the same vein, ‘You do not have all of the information to be making these statements, please stop.’ It was rather humorous to me when I was told that I had committed a ‘dereliction of duty’ or ‘just hand over the d*mn books, Hud. It’s that simple.’ I also had one person intimate that it was not going to be good for me when the books were examined and that was the reason I was stalling. If they had bothered to ask, (no one actually did) I could have told them that I was in Florida at that moment. Or they could have asked several of the committee members as my whereabouts was not a secret. Let me be clear, there were NEVER any stall tactics on my part, I simply was not in the State at that time. Also, during this time, Ms. Brown castigated me on Facebook with regards to the length of time she had to examine the books (during the changeover of signatures at the bank and after). I replied on Facebook that I was fully prepared to be there all evening. She then made a statement to the effect that she was not going to go to McDonald’s with sensitive information and that I should have given her the option of going somewhere else at the outset of her examination. I did not respond to this at the time, but I will here. Ms. Brown brought up McDonald’s, I did not, I could have named a few places we could have done further examinations in private, however, when we parted ways in the bank parking lot, I specifically asked her if she had everything she needed, and she responded in the positive. If she wanted further time, why did she not just ask?
Here is something else to consider: In all my time in and around the Sixth District Committee, I have noticed something. There is a group of people who are doing their best to be on the playing field that is the political arena. This group has very clearly stated that every Republican should be involved, have a voice in decisions, and that Republicans should work together for the common goal of putting Republicans in office. To that end, they have organized a Gala to raise money, attached their names to the nullification of the Incumbent Protection Act (not because they don’t believe in an incumbent, but rather, they believe in the PEOPLE to make collective wise choices) and left the committee with almost three times more money than when the former Chair took office. I know that we asked our teammates to join us on the field, but in both cases, they chose to stay on the sidelines. This group also believes that, in the course of our duties, should there be a complaint or action leveled against the elected and/or volunteer leadership, that we have the duty to defend our fellow teammates. A defense is always immediate because if a team decides not to defend until the fourth quarter, the game is already over.
We continue to ask our teammates to be teammates: not to control but rather collaborate, not to point out mistakes for the other team and /or ref to see, but rather to point out opportunities.
No matter what anyone says, our part of the team is not ‘resisters’, nor do we have it in for Ms. Brown or Craig Storrs or any other detractor from our side. Which begs the question, ‘If we are all on the same team, why are we not working together?’ I believe we have a common goal, electing Republicans, I believe that if we were asked, we would come to the table and discuss the variety of ways that can be used to Get Out The Vote. But it seems the only ones asking are the people accused of being ‘resisters’, the only ones asking are the ones who have been deemed the ‘establishment’. I always thought the establishment was the group who wanted to keep ‘their’ people in power, like a ruling elite. I was always under the impression that a Republic was designed to keep “THE” people in power. If that is the case, we have strayed from our mandate, which should be to keep the people in power by sending the people’s chosen representative to our halls of government. How about we stop pointing fingers and worrying about who controls what and get down to business. It has always been my perception that those who yell the loudest in a discussion are those who have the least to say, and they think that, by way of distraction, they can get people believing they are correct. The loudest is not always correct in their assertion, and, more often than not, loud conversation includes misdirection.
Nobody likes to be dictated to… Why don’t you just ask?