Once again the Fauquier County Republican Committee leadership has been caught circumventing FCRC bylaws, the RPV Party Plan, and Roberts Rules of Order while attempting to suppress dissent within the committee membership.
Rick Buchanan initiated a contest following the September meeting where several new members were voted onto the committee as voting members, in which the Committee leadership did not follow the process outlined in the FCRC bylaws.
This is not the first time this has happened, in fact part of Chairman Hayes defense of the leadership’s action is “we’ve done it this way for 20 years.”
Buchanan brought a similar contest in December of 2014 in the midst of an appeal by Cam Jones over violations of the Party Plan during the 2014 Canvass, which saw FCRC leadership not only allowing Democrats to participate in the FCRC Canvass, but actively recruiting them to defeat Jones in the Chairman’s race.
In both the 2014 and 2017 cases, Buchanan was denigrated and labeled as a troublemaker by committee leadership, and his Contest was flippantly dismissed as having no merit.
In 2014 he did not pursue an appeal to the 5th District, however this time he did, and on December 2nd, the 5th District Committee unanimously upheld Buchanan’s appeal, and in the process produced a unanimous resolution that directed that the Fauquier Committee meetings be monitored by at least two 5th District and/or State Central Committee members until the conclusion of the 2018 reconstitution of the FCRC, in a process that will be supervised by the 5th District.
Of course the FCRC committee has the right to appeal this decision, but if the FCRC chooses to ignore the 5th District decision and resolution, the 5th District’s next step will be to move for dissolution of the FCRC, as clearly stated in another resolution.
During the entire process leading up to Saturday’s meeting, FCRC Chairman Kay Hayes was represented by a lawyer; Kate Rennolds of the Ashby law firm of Alexandria.
It is unclear why a lawyer was involved since this was not a legal action but a Party action, completely within the purview of a private organization (the RPV) enforcing its own rules.
Additionally, Chairman Hayes had no authority to hire counsel on behalf of the FCRC; no meeting had been called to request authority, no motions made, and no votes were taken.
Lawyers represent the interests of those who pay them, so if there was no authorization to hire a lawyer on behalf of the FCRC, then committee funds cannot be used to pay for a lawyer; so who is paying Chris Ashby’s law firm for Ms. Rennolds’ services, and what standing does she have with the RPV or any of its committees?
Kate Rennolds correspondence repeatedly indicated she was representing Kay Hayes, however there was one very telling email dated Saturday December 2nd at 12:06 AM, the morning of the 5th District meeting, addressed to District Chairman Lynn Tucker, “Subject: Written Submission on Behalf of the FCRC” [emphasis added], where she sent an attachment to be passed out at the meeting.
In the body of the email she said, “I am submitting the attached written submission with a cover letter on behalf of Chairman Kay Hayes and the FCRC.” [Emphasis added]
Under what authority was she representing the FCRC?
Ms. Hayes was in no legal jeopardy, but for some reason felt the need to bring a lawyer into the process; but why; and who is paying for the lawyer?
The FCRC membership deserves answers to these questions.
Ms. Rennolds attempted to negotiate an illegal (by RPV Party Plan) resolution to Mr. Buchanan’s appeal; a resolution that would “vacate” (render null and void) the actions that led to Mr. Buchanan’s contest, without admitting that the FCRC leadership had violated the bylaws.
Mr. Buchanan refused to drop his appeal, because his original contest was specifically about the process for electing new members to the committee; not about who was elected.
It was also about the fact that a handful of FCRC members led by former 10th District Chairman Mr. James E. Rich, whose official position on the FCRC is unclear, but whose unofficial position is clearly de facto Chairman, continue to violate all the rules that govern the committee including the bylaws, Party Plan, and Robert’s Rules.
At the April 2017 meeting, Mr. Rich attempted to illegally amend the bylaws in a way that would have allowed changing the bylaws at any time, with as little as one third of the committee membership, by a simple voice vote.
Since that meeting when his power grab was foiled, it’s been all out war in the committee, and the leadership has even used the local Sheriff’s deputies to remove an individual who attempted to record a public meeting of the FCRC for transparency. If they’re doing nothing wrong, what are they afraid of?
What remains to be seen in this latest round of sanctions against Mr. Rich and his cronies, is when and whom they will sue in a court of law.
In 2014, after losing the Jones appeal at both the 1st District and SCC by a two thirds vote of each body, Mr. Rich, Mr. Scott Russell, Mr. George Beveridge, and Mr. Tom Valk (all FCRC members) sued the 1st District Committee and their Chairman Eric Herr, the RPV and RPV Chairman Pat Mullins, and their own committee, and proceeded to delay the new Canvass directed by the RPV State Central Committee for nearly a year before filing a non-suit the day before they were about to go to court and lose.
They cost the RPV over $70,000 in legal fees, and Chairman Herr incurred thousands in personal legal expenses as well.
So be ready to break out the popcorn, and stand by to see the show if Mr. Rich once again attempts to circumvent the actions of the RPV by trying to make this a legal issue.
On second thought, perhaps it’s time to rid the RPV of Mr. Rich and his associates, so the RPV can get back to the business of electing Republicans.
The resolutions of the 5th District Committee on Fauquier are embedded below.