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6th District Congressional Candidates Outraged at Lack of Transparency

It’s the Congressional district that has been represented by Bob Goodlatte for two decades. After the Congressman’s retirement announcement, candidates vying for Goodlatte’s Sixth Congressional District seat began preparing for the upcoming convention but they have been battling headwinds and roadblocks from District leadership since the nomination process began.

Earlier this week, after learning the delegate lists would not be released before mid-April,  the campaigns of congressional candidates Ben Cline, Chaz Haywood, Ed Justo, Kathryn Lewis, and Douglas Wright took an unprecedented step as they banned together with a joint statement concerning the unusual turn of events:

After the Sixth District Committee and Chairman Scott Sayre attempted to rig the process back in January to benefit one candidate at the May 19th Convention with a single-ballot plurality vote, Chairman Sayre and the Committee are again attempting to rig the process to benefit that same candidate by delaying the release of delegate names to the other campaigns, including his own opponent for chairman.

The democratic process is supposed to be one which brings people out to participate, not one which places onerous requirements in the way of individuals from getting the information that they need to make an informed decision about who shall represent them. The consistent changes to this process that have been presented by the Sixth District Republican Committee have shown that there is no interest in allowing for an open and transparent process moving forward. In fact, it would appear that this Committee has committed to keeping voters, candidates, and campaigns in the dark about how information will be distributed.

We are a country of laws and a Party of rules; as such, we expect that the due process is accorded to the voters of the Sixth Congressional District so they may be allowed access to as much information about their choice for a candidate. This includes allowing campaigns to be afforded the access to delegate lists, instead of allowing one campaign to have an unfair advantage over the others.

Access to delegate lists allows each campaign to communicate with delegates on a fair and level playing field. For the Sixth District Committee to arbitrarily sit on filed and verified delegates for the May 19th Republican Convention in Harrisonburg is impeding the ability of delegates to make an informed decision.

Republicans in the Sixth District have reason to be greatly concerned if the Sixth District Committee continues to show this flagrant bias and fails to allow for an open and transparent process. Continued efforts to trample the rights of voters in the Sixth District shows an unethical abuse of power in favor of one candidate. The preservation of liberty and the fundamental underpinnings required to preserve a democratic process necessitates the Sixth District Committee to immediately release delegate lists and ensure that all campaigns have an equal opportunity to communicate with properly filed delegates.

For more information please contact any of the campaigns at the information below:

Cline – [email protected]
Haywood – [email protected]
Justo – [email protected]
Lewis – [email protected]
Wright – [email protected]

Craig Storrs, the District’s Central Regional Vice Chairman, followed with a statement published on Facebook:

On March 7, 2018, the Sixth District Committee held a committee wide conference call to discuss several items leading up to the convention.

Among these were the issues of releasing the raw delegate counts as soon as units certified them to the Sixth District, as well as when to release delegate information.

Needless to say, those who favor transparency and accountability from Party leaders have every right to be concerned about the outcome of that call. While the Committee will be releasing the raw delegate counts as they occur, the Committee unfortunately will not be releasing delegate information to the candidates prior to April 9th – pending an affirmative vote by the Committee on April 7th.

I voiced my preliminary concerns on the conference call with adopting this method. Doing this will both only give candidates about a month to campaign directly to the delegates, but is also unprecedented. It has been a long standing practice to release delegate information to campaigns as soon as the units certify them to the Sixth District.

It also may not have crossed Chairman Sayre’s mind that he himself is also a candidate — but he will have access to the delegate lists by virtue of his office, thus creating the appearance that this is not a fair and impartial Convention in regards to his contest with his opponent, Jennifer Brown.

What further concerns me is that this action, combined with other actions by several in Party leadership, appears to have the effect of unbalancing the Convention in favor one candidate over another. This is entirely unacceptable and must be corrected.

Regardless of the outcome of the races, a party that does not have transparency and trust is not a party, it is a fiefdom.

On Tuesday Jennifer Brown, the candidate challenging Sayre for the chairman position, talked on the John Fredericks Radio Show about the refusal to release the lists and other issues facing candidates (it is well worth a listen [1]). During the interview, Fredericks said Sayre had been invited to join them on the show but had declined.

Fredericks, who talked with Sayre by phone, pressed the issue by asking him five times if he had given or intended to give the delegate names to Cynthia Dunbar or her campaign prior to releasing them to other candidates. Sayre never directly answered him but, instead, responded that he was going to do an investigation on the accusations and report back the facts the week of March 26.

Fredericks, incredulous, asked what was Sayre going to investigate? Himself? To see if he himself had given the delegate names to Dunbar’s campaign? He either gave the names to Dunbar, or not, he said … it’s a yes or no response. Sayre would not answer except to continue saying he would conduct an investigation. Listen to the interview because Fredericks’ frustration is obvious.

All of this is in preparation for the District convention set to be held May 19 at James Madison University when a congressional candidate will be chosen to run in the general election in November, as well as vote for leadership positions. For more background, see the links below.

Also on Bearing Drift….

Brown: Questions Continue in 6th District as Delegate Lists Withheld from Candidates [2]
Ben Cline Calls Out the ‘Rigging of the 6th District Convention’ [3]
Lynchburg GOP Chair Protests 6th District Republican Committee Vote [4]
Virginia 6th District Congressional Candidate Confirms She’s in Alabama Helping Roy Moore [5]
6th District Chairman’s Race Offers Fresh Face [6]
6th District Chooses Convention to Nominate Congressional Candidate [7]
Chaz Haywood Officially in Race for 6th Congressional District Seat [8]
Sixth District GOP Forum Grades: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly [9]