Records Show House Candidate Cynthia Dunbar on Payroll of Party Chairman’s Company

By James Harrison

With the Sixth District Listgate scandal stoking controversy in the run-up to the district convention, new financial disclosure documents filed by the campaign of US House candidate Cynthia Dunbar are sure to raise eyebrows and reinforce allegations that Sixth District Chairman Scott Sayre may not be as neutral of a leader as he claims.

The financial disclosure report, required of all House candidates under federal ethics rules, shows Dunbar on the payroll of Sayre Enterprises in Natural Bridge, Virginia. Sayre Enterprises is the company of Sixth District Chairman Scott Sayre.

In it, Dunbar reports receiving income from Sayre Enterprises (Schedule J) exceeding the reporting threshold of $5000, but she does not specify the exact amount received, nor how she used her work experience in politics and textbook creation to the benefit of a local manufacturing enterprise, other than a vague boilerplate description of “research & development.”

For weeks, allegations have circulated that Dunbar’s campaign may have had preferential, advance access to the convention delegate lists which Sayre possesses in his capacity as the district’s chairman, which followed earlier accusations that he “rigged” the nominating process in her favor back in January.

Although these lists were sent to Sayre by local unit chairman following the closing of filing deadlines in county and city Republican committees, he has announced these lists will not be made available to other candidates or campaigns until mid to late April, giving anyone with advance access a nearly one month head start over the campaigns of their competitors.

Sayre may have already violated party rules by withholding lists currently in his possession from the campaign of his opponent and disadvantaging her by one month in violation of the Party Plan’s requirement for ethical conduct and good faith dealings.

Whether or not she has the lists is unclear. A joint statement by her opponents alleging bias prompted a campaign staffer to deny it at the same time Sayre refused to deny it to radio host John Fredericks, prompting this response:

“I asked Scott Sayre this question five times. He could not answer it five times. Instead here’s what he said to me, and I quote, ‘I’m going to do an investigation on the accusations and report back the facts the week of March 26th.’ And I’m like, what are you going to do, investigate yourself? You have the names. Are you giving them to the Dunbar campaign or not? Obviously, your opponent, Jennifer Brown, is at a disadvantage because you have the names of the delegates and she does not.”

After the interview, Sayre’s position changed to denying it.

However, Dunbar’s filings raise another important question.

In 2017, Dunbar only reported receiving $15,700 in other earned income, in addition to the $5000 or more she also received from Sayre Enterprises. Additionally, she reported very little in the way of liquid assets.

This begs the obvious question: Is Dunbar’s income from Sayre Enterprises intended to keep her financially afloat while she runs for Congress?

Ethically speaking, there is no problem when a candidate for office earns money for the work they do. Everyone has bills, and Republicans should not hold a candidate’s need to work against them. Not all candidates can be independently-wealthy millionaires.

However, Dunbar’s skillset isn’t exactly well-aligned with the manufacturing done by Sayre Enterprises. If Sayre were keeping Dunbar’s personal finances afloat while she ran for office full time, that would raise serious ethical concerns about whether a no-show or no-work job may have been given to influence a candidate for high office.

To be clear, Dunbar hasn’t said exactly how much she earned from Sayre Enterprises or what specific work she did – apart from the vague boilerplate description of “research & development.”

However, a candidate for Congress needs to be above suspicion.

These financial ties are sure to unsettle many Sixth District Republicans who already lament the lack of transparency and perceived favoritism shown during the convention process. Additionally, they raise the specter of a potential cash-for-influence arrangement which could be used by Democrats as an attack during the general election.

With these financial ties now in the open, Dunbar needs to provide a full accounting of exactly how much she earned from Sayre Enterprises and what exactly she did for the chairman’s company while on his payroll.

Anything less would fail to give Sixth District Republicans the answers they need as they choose their next nominee to follow Congressman Bob Goodlatte, who has represented the district since 1999. With the GOP nomination in this Republican stronghold almost tantamount to election, these concerns need to be resolved, especially in light of allegations that the nominating process was rigged in January to the benefit of Dunbar.

 

Background on Bearing Drift….

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