RPV Chairmen have not always been impartial. More than one Chairman has endorsed candidates in intra-party contests. That is to be expected. But we expect that no matter who an RPV Chairman may or may not support in a contest for the Republican nomination, they SHOULD NOT attempt to use their position to affect the outcome of that contest. That is exactly what Jack Wilson is doing in the 97th House of Delegates District, and his actions are so blatantly one-sided they demand his resignation.
Readers of The Bull Elephant know about the underhanded tactics currently underway by the Peace campaign and his associates to overturn the results of Saturday’s Convention which saw Scott Wyatt win an overwhelming victory. What may not be clear is the role Jack Wilson has played and his obvious bias in the contest that is clear to see in his writings.
The Back Story
The controversy begins on April 2nd when Hanover County Chairwoman, Dale Taylor, decides at the 11th hour to remove Scott Wyatt from the 97th Legislative District Committee and replace him with a vocal supporter of Chris Peace. Since Hanover County makes up nearly two thirds of the 97th, the vote of the Hanover County representative will always carry the day.
The reason Chairwoman Taylor gives for this unusual and irregular move was that she suddenly realized that Scott Wyatt was actually a candidate for the 97th District nomination. Given that the vote to hold a convention was taken on Jan. 19th, and Scott Wyatt announced his candidacy on Jan. 23rd, I am at a loss how this seemed to escape Ms. Taylor’s attention for nearly 10 Weeks, but the reason becomes clear soon enough.
The newly minted 97th LDC rep then asserts control and calls for a special meeting to rescind the call for a convention less than one week before the convention is to take place. Why wait so long? Because by this point it has become quite clear that Chris Peace has failed to secure enough delegates to win. In steps Jack Wilson.
Chairman Wilson has sent out two different statements that I know of directly addressing this issue and they both have drastically different tones. The first, in announcing the chaos that ensued on May 1st (3 days before the scheduled convention) Jack is conciliatory and deferential in tone.
“I make no judgement on whether the decision was proper,” states Chairman Wilson about the outrageous move to cancel a convention that was to take place in 3 days after months of work and preparation and the selection of delegates by three separate units. After declaring RPV’s neutrality and mentioning the appeals process for actions like this, Wilson then endorses the controversial decision by declaring the convention will be removed from the RPV website as if it never existed.
This neutral, conciliatory tone disappears when informed that the convention will move forward as planned. In a scathing email sent directly to all 97th District Convention delegates, Chairman Wilson attacked Scott Wyatt and his campaign, insulted the professionalism and competence of 97th LDC Chairman, Tom Miller, and tried to convince delegates NOT to attend the convention on Saturday. He also makes factually inaccurate statements about Scott Wyatt.
Conflict? What Conflict?
Here is where Hanover Chairwoman Taylor’s actions come into play. Chairman Wilson latches onto her allegations to attack Scott Wyatt’s integrity. In incredulous tones Wilson declares, “Despite his claims of adhering to the Party Plan, Scott Wyatt was actually REMOVED from his position on the district committee for failing to disclose a conflict of interest: RUNNING FOR THE OFFICE HE WAS VOTING ON! ” (The bold and emphasis here are Wilson’s.)
There are at least three problems with this statement. First, Wyatt did not vote on the method of nomination. He sent an uninstructed proxy to vote in his place. Second, Wyatt attempted AT LEAST THREE TIMES to have Chairwoman Taylor replace him on the 97th LDC before the vote took place, AND SHE REFUSED. Finally, and most importantly, RPV State Central Committee has already ruled that a legislative district committee member may vote on the method of nomination for a contest in which they seek to be a candidate. I know this because I was a witness to it.
In late 2005/early 2006 Loudoun County Committee Chairman, Randy Minchew, decided to run for the 33rd Senate Special Election to replace Bill Mims. Suzanne Volpe was already designated as the 33rd District Chairman and the voting representative. Mr. Minchew tried to remove her from that position to allow himself to decide the method of nomination for a race where he was a declared candidate. When a complaint was filed, RPV State Central Committee ruled IN FAVOR OF RANDY MINCHEW. They ruled that he could not replace Mrs. Volpe as Chairman since those positions are elected to four year terms per the party plan, but allowed him to claim the Unit representation (and the controlling vote) for himself.
Let me repeat that. RPV State Central Committee ruled that a declared candidate could sit on the Legislative District Committee and vote to decide their own method of nomination. Mr. Minchew ultimately sent a proxy to vote for him but the message was clear. If it was not a conflict of interest for Mr. Minchew then, it was not a conflict of interest for Scott Wyatt to send a proxy now, and Jack Wilson knows it.
Bring on the Nit-Picking
Chairman Wilson next attempts to make mountains out of mole-hills by attacking minor details of a fluid, sometimes chaotic process that goes on for nearly every nominating convention throughout the years. He tries to make an issue of the reservation being in the name of the Wyatt campaign (irrelevant). He tries to imply sinister intent on the selection of a school that happened to be administering the SAT’s on the same day.
Even when an alternate location had to be secured for the convention (a possibility which was anticipated in the Convention call), it was done quickly and efficiently. All accusations of incompetence and concerns raised by the LDC were proven baseless by the successful convention held on Saturday, attended by nearly 40% of the voting delegates despite their being told not to attend by both the Peace campaign and Chairman Wilson.
The breathless accusations of disenfranchisement by Wilson are undercut by his own words when he admits that having Delegates and Alternates “is legal under the plan.” The only way alternates are denied the opportunity to vote in a convention is when 100% of the voting delegates are in attendance. Since 100% attendance NEVER happens alternates would be seated in place of the missing delegates, which is exactly what happened on Saturday when every single Alternate in attendance was given credentials to vote. Still, even though it is legal, Jack makes sure to disparage the process.
Thumb on the Scales
As Chairman Wilson noted in his first message there is an appeals process when a committee takes actions that are clearly improper. In this case the improper action is attempting to cancel the convention and select a new method of nomination. Aside from the incredibly bad faith cancelling the convention for another nominating process entails all on its own, you cannot select a new method of nomination without rescinding the vote to select a nominee by convention, otherwise you have selected two methods of nomination and that presents an irreconcilable conflict. Roberts Rules is clear that you cannot rescind a motion “after something has been done as a result of that vote that the assembly cannot undo,” and that clearly happened with the Convention, so the actions of the 97th LDC on May 1st are blatantly improper and can be appealed.
In order for there to be a valid appeal, however, there must be an available remedy. Just ask Randy Forbes about how he lost us the Congressional redistricting case in the Supreme Court. In the case of the 97th LDC’s actions on May 1st, the remedy would be for the results of the May 4th convention to be validated, but that can only happen if the convention takes place on schedule. No May 4th convention, no remedy. No remedy, no appeal, and Chris Peace gets his primary. As a lawyer, long time RPV State Central Committee member, and a veteran of these types of parliamentary procedures, Jack Wilson knows this all too well.
If Chairman Wilson were truly impartial he would have told delegates to go ahead and attend the convention as planned and cast their ballots, but to keep in mind that the results may not be official based on the outcome of any appeal. Wilson didn’t do that. Instead he directly told these Republican voters the convention was cancelled and attacked the integrity of one of the candidates.
By telling delegates that the convention had been cancelled, Jack Wilson took sides in this contest and tried to deny the Wyatt campaign and other 97th District voters the chance to have a successful appeal. To make matters worse, he did this while claiming to be neutral in the process.
Wilson Must Go
In all my years I don’t think I have ever seen a more egregious attempt to rig a primary process than what I am witnessing right now. In the past we have had contentious fights about the primary process, but once the vote was taken both sides would reluctantly agree that the method of nomination was a thing decided.
Nobody appealed the vote to have a convention when it was taken in January. It was only when it became clear Chris Peace was going to lose the convention (and his seat in the House of Delegates) that these so-called problems with the convention sprung out of whole cloth.
Chairman Wilson has disgraced himself and his office by taking an active role in attempting to disenfranchise hundreds of duly elected delegates and overturn the validly selected method of nomination in the 97th District in clear violation of Roberts Rules of order. Claiming neutrality while performing this interference just insults our intelligence and costs him any credibility he might have had.
For the good of the party, Jack Wilson must resign.