Hannigan’s Failed Response to Burgos’ Bigotry Disqualifies Him from Fairfax Chairmanship

Sunday night, Bearing Drift highlighted the abhorrent and bigoted remarks made by SCC member Fredy Burgos, who suggested that Jews and other non-Christians should not hold office on account of their religion. As noted in the editorial, this is hardly the first time Fredy has stoked controversy with his hateful commentary, but hopefully, the growing list of Republican leaders calling for his removal will make it the final, shameful debacle in Burgos’ unaccomplished political career.

The controversy began when Burgos attacked Mike Ginsberg, a Jewish Republican running for Chairman of the Fairfax County Republican Committee, saying that Christians had a “duty” to oppose non-Christians running for public office, and that doing so was not religious bigotry.  The comments, in the context of a race in which Burgos is more than simply an observer, have been roundly condemned by Republicans from across the Commonwealth.

Burgos served as a leading organizer for the campaign of Ginsberg’s opponent, Tim Hannigan.  Burgos has taken it upon himself to organize the campaign, file delegates, persuade voters, and even order campaign merchandise on Hannigan’s behalf.

In the original article Bearing Drift called on Hannigan to:

“… swiftly distance himself from the bigoted attacks on his opponent by denouncing Fredy Burgos, decline any assistance from him or his supporters, and immediately join in calls for Burgos to be removed from SCC.”

Hannigan responded this morning, and the response was, to make a long story short, embarrassingly evasive and full of absurd evasions. In fairness to Mr. Hannigan, we have reproduced his response in its entirety at the conclusion of this article.

We applaud Hannigan for taking the first step in removing Burgos from the campaign, but not only is his response otherwise weak and vacillating, it’s reeks of political opportunism and demonstrates a lack of judgment that is disqualifying for someone running to serve as unit chairman in Virginia’s most important and largest jurisdiction.

Feigning Ignorance of Open Bigotry — or Blissfully Unaware?

As has been extensively documented, Burgos has a history of making bigoted and inflammatory remarks. This is not new behavior, by any stretch of the imagination, and Burgos’ constant foot-in-mouth behavior on social media has been well documented, both here and in the mainstream media.  Hannigan, although he fails to mention his long-time activism as an FCRC member, precinct captain, and failed candidate for FCRC Chairman in his biography, does mention editing the “Fairfax Free Citizen,” a Tea Party leaning newspaper.  Thus, one would expect that he would be aware of all of the pertinent political goings-on within Fairfax County.

Given the widespread coverage of the last time Fredy made bigoted comments on social media, which were covered in the Washington Post, at Bearing Drift and elsewhere, it seems unlikely that Hannigan was not aware of his campaign organizer’s past issues.

To put this in perspective, not only was Burgos covered directly in the mainstream media in 2016, his statements were widely covered again, in the context of former 11th District State Central member Kyle McDaniel’s resignation, which occurred while Hannigan was actively campaigning for chairman.

One would think Hannigan could not plausibly say, “I did not know.”  Either he’s not being truthful because being associated with a bigot like Fredy is embarrassing to his campaign, or he’s the most incompetent citizen journalist we’ve ever encountered.

A Pointless “Investigation” for a “Recommendation” Hannigan Shouldn’t Need

In response to the fast-paced firestorm sparked by Burgos’ remarks, Hannigan thought it fit to call for a bureaucratic five-point inquiry conducted by a “competent, impartial investigator” brought on to “gather relevant facts” -– with a wide-reaching scope which he envisioned as follows:

Accordingly, I will seek to have a competent, impartial investigator gather relevant facts from:  1) interviews with Mr. Burgos and those who have made these charges of malfeasance against him, 2) reviews of past media and social media postings by all relevant persons, 3) past charges leveled against Mr. Burgos, 4) records of Mr. Burgos’ experiences working for the Republican party, and 5) any other germane source.

I will ask the investigator to assess these facts and recommend to me whether Mr. Burgos’ actions do or do not warrant any further work in my campaign, the FCRC (should I be fortunate enough to win the Chairmanship, and the Republican Party.

This is exactly the kind of canned response you would expect from a government contractor.  It’s meaningless — there is no reason to investigate something that has been widely reported using screenshots of the words spoken by the individual, who has never denied saying what he said. The facts are not in dispute. Burgos made each and every comment attributed to him, in this controversy and those prior, and has publicly acknowledged such.

That’s right — Burgos admits making the comments which Hannigan downplays as mere allegations.

Further, while committing to completing an investigation in the month that remains in this race, he also saw fit to remove Burgos immediately from his campaign.  That’s not the kind of thing you do if you believe your staffer is being railroaded by the media. Hannigan can look no further than to the example set by President Trump, who has repeatedly waited to remove staff members for bad behavior until after they’ve been thoroughly discredited, whether in the media or in private.  Instead, Hannigan fires first and then suggests the investigation.  That’s the exact opposite of how to handle things if you have a question about the truth of allegations and want to give your staffer a chance to clear his name.

If you want an example of how a party chairman should respond to yesterday’s story, look no further than RPV Chairman John Whitbeck, who pledged last night his full support to swiftly remove Burgos from every position in which he serves, before going on the radio this morning to repeat his call for the same.  Whitbeck has been completely clear throughout this process that Burgos should go, and he didn’t need to hide behind the weasel words of a fake “investigation” in order to do it.

In response to comments like these, he should not need a recommendation from an investigator, merely a moral compass.

The comments speak for themselves.

Any attempt to spin these comments -– which nobody contests were made -– as anything but hateful relics hailing from the darker days of humanity’s past falls short of the moral leadership required of a party leader.  It is the constant failures on the part of some in the party to make clear that these kinds of statements are not welcome and not reflective of the GOP that has led to people like Burgos being able to infiltrate party leadership positions in the first place.  It’s what has allowed people like Corey Stewart, Shak Hill, and others who have defended Burgos and welcomed his support and those of his fellow travelers to continue their attempts at public office.

While we generally do not endorse candidates for office, public or party, it seems clear to the Editorial Board of Bearing Drift – all our names are listed right here, Tim – that Tim Hannigan is not fit to serve as chairman of the Fairfax County Republican Committee.

Response to Fredy Burgos’ Anti-Semitic Comments from Tim Hannigan

An unsigned article posted in Bearing Drift on February 11 charges Fredy Burgos, a member of the Republican State Central Committee and a supporter of my campaign for Chairman of the Fairfax County Republican Committee (FCRC), with a “long history of bigoted remarks.” These remarks included a recent statement saying Christians are allowed to have a “duty” to prefer “Christians over non-Christians as political leaders.” Mr. Burgos quoted a similar statement by John Jay, the First Chief Justice of the United States.

The Bearing Drift article also suggests that Mr. Burgos also argues against “Cultural Marxism,” saying this term has been used by anti-Semites to attack Jewish people. It goes on say Mr. Burgos has been making these statements in the context of the race for FCRC Chairman, which pits me, a Christian, against Mike Ginsberg, a Jew.

The article goes on to point out that Mr. Burgos has been an active supporter of my campaign, and urges me “to swiftly distance (myself) from the bigoted attack on (my) opponent by denouncing Mr. Burgos.”

I take seriously the allegations of bigotry against Mr. Burgos and his advocacy of “a religious test for office.” I denounce these statements as presented in the article and have removed Mr. Burgos from my campaign.

I talked with Mr. Burgos after the Bearing Drift article was published, and he said some of the statements in the article were factually incorrect and others were taken out of context. As the person accused of wrongdoing, he should have the opportunity to make his case.

Accordingly, I will seek to have a competent, impartial investigator gather relevant facts from:  1) interviews with Mr. Burgos and those who have made these charges of malfeasance against him, 2) reviews of past media and social media postings by all relevant persons, 3) past charges leveled against Mr. Burgos, 4) records of Mr. Burgos’ experiences working for the Republican party, and 5) any other germane source.

I will ask the investigator to assess these facts and recommend to me whether Mr. Burgos’ actions do or do not warrant any further work in my campaign, the FCRC (should I be fortunate enough to win the Chairmanship, and the Republican Party.

In cases of alleged serious wrongdoing or impropriety by Republicans, especially when they involve sensitive issues such as religion and bigotry, it’s critical that Republican leaders denounce such behavior immediately to ensure nobody perceives it as being acceptable. That’s why I have denounced the behavior described in the allegations made against Mr. Burgos and removed him from my campaign.

At the same time, to guard against jumping to conclusions based on incomplete evidence of wrongdoing, it’s critical that a person charged with the serious wrongdoing or impropriety be given the chance to present his side of the story. That is why I seek a full, impartial inquiry into the charges made against Mr. Burgos.

Upon completion of an impartial inquiry containing the relevant facts, an assessment of the facts, and recommendations from the investigator, then I propose that is the time when all Republicans with whom Mr. Burgos works should make a final decision about what future roles he should play in the Republican Party.

Ready, aim, shoot! Gather the facts, assess them, draw conclusions, make decisions. As Republicans, we must remain faithful to our principles and ensure fair treatment of all Republicans.

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  • Lee Pillsbury

    Has his investigator reached out to you yet? I’m curious as to what he asks y’all.

  • Pingback: FCRC Chairman Candidate Hannigan’s Updated Response to Bearing Drift Articles - Fairfax Free Citizen()

  • Scoob

    Hmm. I guess all that is needed now is the brush for the fire . . .

  • Scoob

    Pretty apparent that all this hub-bub was about Tim, not Fredy. It’s a shame the GOP Est. doesn’t get as worked up about putting boys in the girls’ shower. Haven’t heard them showing up at a school board meeting yet.

    • D Guest

      Indeed. Hannigan is a man of integrity and a great patriot. This is an orchestrated smear campaign.

      The unspoken truth is that politics can draw some people whose biases are not clear until they erupt as in the case of Mr. Burgos. This means that each and every Republican will find himself or herself with someone who has not been fully transparent attaching themselves to their campaign if they take the plunge to run for an office. It is unfortunate that thorough vetting is not within the capability of a local campaign. Thus the opportunity to smear someone due to political ‘friends.’

      This is a hit piece on Mr. Hannigan, pure and simple.

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