Cynthia Dunbar Paid Friends & Endorsers Nearly Half of District GOP Budget

By James Harrison

As a leader of the Sixth District GOP, it appears that Cynthia Dunbar used her position to help steer $20,732 in committee funds towards two of her personal friends and supporters as “Speaking Fees” for their appearance at a party event, according to state campaign finance records available through VPAP.

The payments, which represent nearly half of the district’s 2017 budget, were made without Dunbar disclosing her personal conflict of interest to other committee members, as required under Article VII, Section J(2) of the State Party Plan.

In 2017, the Sixth District GOP, under the leadership of Chairman Scott Sayre, Cynthia Dunbar, and their allies, spent nearly $46,000 as follows:

Sayre and Dunbar’s questionable spending alone is grounds for new leadership in the district. While GOP statewide campaigns struggled against better-funded Democrats in 2017, Sixth District leaders spent nearly three-quarters of the year’s take throwing a “fundraiser” instead of buying signs or opening more phone banks to get Republicans to the polls.

Of that fundraiser, nearly two-thirds of its entire budget was spent paying speaking fees to Dunbar’s friends.

One was Dinesh D’Souza.

Dunbar, who has known the D’Souzas and worked with them since her time in Texas politics, described D’Souza’s wife as a “dear friend.”

The other speaker Dunbar hired was Carol Swain, who endorsed Dunbar’s campaign for Congress on April 10th.

The arrangement appears to have begun when district Chairman Sayre gave Dunbar – who was at that time on his company’s payroll – a leadership role in planning the 2017 District Gala, a fundraiser intended to bring in money for election efforts.

Dunbar, with Sayre’s approval, then paid $20,732 in speaking fees and expenses to the two speakers.

The 2017 Sixth District Gala

The 2017 Sixth District Gala was held on April 15, 2017, at the Stonewall Jackson Hotel & Conference Center in Staunton, VA, and represented the bulk of the Sixth District’s annual fundraising.

According to VPAP, in 2017, the committee brought in a total of $42,249 in total cash contributions from all sources, although only $18,999 of this came from sub-$1000 grassroots contributors.

The rest came from two sources: The first was major donors like Walter Curt and Bill Holtzman, who invest in district efforts because they care about winning in the 6th, rather than seeing program speakers. The second came from GOP candidates buying ad space in the gala’s program, which ends up essentially costing the grassroots twice — the money they donate to candidates went back to the committee in the form of ad buys.

Major donors and campaigns will give money regardless of the program speakers or the quality of the dinner’s steak or wine. All of the fun and excitement brought by headlining speakers is necessary only for selling tickets to bring grassroots supporters in the door as attendees. Major donors may like being recognized at the program, but it is not why they give thousands or more at a time.  Thus, a headliner needs to be a big enough draw to cover whatever the cost of getting them to the event, if any.

Or, in other words, successful committees must make events profitable from average ticket sales, rather than using Ed Gillespie’s money subsidizing a party for everyone.

By that measure, the gala raised no more than $18,999 from grassroots contributors on $32,496 in total expenses. That is a tremendous fundraising failure, especially when considering that the gala would have made money if Dunbar hadn’t given 2/3 of the gala budget to her friends.  A gala with no headliners would have raised money on major donor and campaign ad sales alone. 

In fact, according to committee finance records, this is the first time the Sixth District Committee has ever paid to bring in a guest speaker, a practice usually associated with statewide galas or high-dollar fundraising retreats. Normally, party leaders work their own contacts to find a speaker for free. As an RNC national committeewoman, Dunbar is especially well-connected with potential free speakers across the country – so why did she pay when so many political types are willing to get up and speak endlessly for free?

Let’s be clear about one thing: hiring a guest speaker for a district committee’s gala – for any dollar amount – is extremely unusual. Paying thousands of dollars for that speaker is even more unusual. Dunbar did it twice. In one year. Both are personal friends.

Who was in charge?

According to the 6th District website and information provided to potential donors, Cynthia Dunbar, at the pleasure of Scott Sayre, her employer and political patron, was one of the leaders responsible for the Gala.

Dunbar’s Entangled Relationships

While the wasteful spending on a failed fundraiser is a huge problem itself, the continued ethical problems surrounding Dunbar and her candidacy should give Sixth District Republicans pause.

Back in January, the 6th District was accused of rigging the convention rules in Dunbar’s favor, allowing a weaker candidate (such as herself) to win with less than a majority vote. RPV’s State Central Committee overturned the attempted rules hijacking, finding it violated party rules.

Dunbar’s campaign then faced credible accusations that it received advance access to valuable convention delegate lists, ahead of the other campaigns – an action which broke party rules yet again.

Records also showed that Dunbar was on the payroll of Chairman Sayre’s company. In response, Dunbar declined to specify exactly how much she was paid by Sayre or what she did for his company.

These latest findings regarding the gala and its questionable expenses will likely raise even more ethical questions regarding Dunbar’s relationship with the 6th District Committee. Both the steering of speaking fees to friends and supports, and the failure to disclose those relationships to the full committee represent further evidence of questionable behavior on the part of Dunbar and her supports on the committee.

As an aside, the $15,000 (excluding expenses) which was paid to D’Souza could have bought nearly 11,000 signs for Sixth District Republicans.

Here’s Dunbar with that “dear friend.”

If that were not enough, Dunbar apparently repeated the process twice in the same event, paying thousands more to fly Carol Swain to southwest Virginia as the event’s second speaker.

It was thus unsurprising to see Swain endorse Dunbar for US Congress on April 10, 2018.

That this happened twice raises even more ethical questions about the gala, its planning, and its oversight.

This Appears to Break Party Rules

These payments of party-raised donor money from the 6th District Committee to friends and supporters of Cynthia Dunbar raise a key question as to whether she properly disclosed this financial arrangement.  Under Article VII, Section J(2) of the State Party Plan, voting members of district committees have a duty to disclose conflicts of interest as follows:

“Recognizing that not all possible conflicts represent an actual conflict of interest, voting members of the State Central Committee and District Committees shall voluntarily disclose, in writing, any known potential or actual conflicts of interest to all members of the official committee on which they serve in a timely manner after becoming aware of such conflict.”

As national committeewoman resident in district, Dunbar is herself a member of the Sixth District GOP, under the committee’s bylaws [Art. III, Sec. (A)(1)(e)(iv)].

This duty falls on Dunbar to disclose. It does not require opponents to raise an objection.

According to reports, Dunbar did not disclose these conflicts of interest as required.

Last week, a GOP official accused Dunbar’s campaign of breaking party rules in gaining an unethical and prohibited advantage over her competitors by gaining advance, preferential access to delegate lists through her campaign employee, Matt Tederick, who stands accused of violating the same conflict of interest and transparency provisions as Dunbar.

Despite multiple allegations of unethical behavior, no action has been taken against Dunbar, Tederick or anybody connected with her campaign.

Given the lack of action, one thing is certain: Republicans should not look towards the Sixth District GOP for an honest and impartial investigation of the charges leveled against Dunbar. Given the relationship between 6th District Chairman Scott Sayre and Dunbar, any 6th District level investigation would suffer from the same conflicts of interest that already exist, and would raise the appearance of impropriety, even if none actually exists.

With all of these issues continuing to swirl, it seems likely that RPV’s State Central Committee will need to step in and determine what, if anything, can be done to address these concerns in the 6th District.

  • old_redneck

    I’m confused. The Bull Elephant just loves Cynthia Dunbar.

    • Ed Justo

      The Bull Elephant is just that… bull s……. They are so deep in Dunbar’s pocket they can smell her stockings.

      • old_redneck

        Better be careful. The Lovettsville Lady will ban you from TBE — she banned me after two days. I wear that ban with pride.

        • Ed Justo

          I will try to contain my tears if they ban me as a candidate
          .{cynical}

  • Ed Justo

    At this point it is obvious what is happening. Guatemala has spilled their political tactics on the district. Go Google it. Same thing happened there, 3 times.

    • Jim

      Have you ever told us what you would do if elected, Mr. Justo, instead of attacking other candidates? Cynthia Dunbar’s campaign must really worry you.

      • Ed Justo

        Silly comment. Did you check my website? Edjusto dot com? Or my facebook edgop6district?
        But if you are the Jim I think, her fervent worker, you also heard me 4 times at each forum. And if not, look the forums and forward to my ideas.
        Just because you have not checked to see doesn’t mean is not there. So go. Look. 🙂

      • Ed Justo

        Here. Since you are obviously not gonna check; here is the list. And, BTW, if your candidate has even mentioned any of these is because they read it at my facebook or my website.

        Since one candidate is saying I have no ideas; likely because she doesn’t listen. Here are all my ideas, which I have posted here and on my website before and throughout the campaign:

        1. Social Media should be responsible for facilitating the promotion of terrorism and should be liable for failing to notify early warnings from people that intend to cause harm. Almost all shooters in the last year have posted somewhere their intent; yet all social media sites have selectively ignored the warnings. They know what brand of toilet paper I use, using my personal information for advertising as admitted by Zuckerberg; yet casually fail to notice when someone posts ” I will shoot everyone in my school”.

        2. The 20 trillion appropriations has expenditures that are useless, and unjustified and having read it all (contrary to other candidates) I know where the funds are wasted and would have voted to end such waste. For example: 860 million to a TV station that transmits only in the middle east regular programming, when a similar network would cost around 350 million to operate or less. 60 million to El Salvador, 90 to Honduras and Nicaragua for their law enforcement when their law enforcement promotes and facilitates the export of their nationals to US; including the removal of convicted gang members from jails and moving them to the border telling them to come to US. 140 million to Syria, under claims of humanitarian help, that is given directly to the regime to manage. 178 million in installing high speed internet in countries in the Middle East while most of the 6th does not have such service. And many others.

        3.The 1.2 Trillion omnibus bill is also another waste of money in many things that are unnecessary and, as well, I would have opposed. 875 million for the Resource Conservation Agency so it can maintain its aircraft. I checked, they have 3 planes, and all could be replaced for less than $500,000. The FDA opened up 148 new jobs under this bill, even though it seems they are quite effective at what they do so far; we do not need that many more. This bill requires the registration of all firearms in one way or the other; the trick is that they disguised it under a section of the code for the ATF. So now and eventually all guns will have a name and address as owner; if we keep funding this program. I disapprove of all of these specially any list of owners of anything the Constitution so allows; if you are free to associate you are free to have what you want without being on a list.

        4. I called attention to “Red Flag Laws” that allow a law enforcement officer to take the firearms of a household if he believes someone is a threat to others. This laws are shady because the allow the taking of property of people (guns are property after all) under the premise that they are not “like me”. If you are a minority, it allows taking from you. Are you too “ghetto”? they can deem you a threat. Are you socially awkward? No gun for you. I would oppose this regulation under it is strictly and perfectly worded in the slimmest parameters possible.
        I proposed the creation of a national victims and traffickers list for victims of human trafficking. The list would facilitate the use of witnesses against traffickers when they are eventually caught. Congress, and Trump, just signed the half version of this idea which I mentioned in January; so it seems someone is listening. Sadly, it does not create a database for law enforcement to search for the traffickers.

        5.I proposed the creation of a database of lost children, contrary to the one existing, that is searchable by features: skin color, hair color, eye color not just “age” and “city lost”; this would help people search when they suspect they have seen someone that was reported lost without having to spend 3 days online looking for the news report with the picture; and by then the child is again, lost.

        6. I proposed the elimination of the recently passed laws that allow the creation of IPO’s using the value of the company “considering inflation”; which allows a value to be based on speculation. If the liquid value of a company is 10 million after you sell everything it owns; that should be it’s IPO value, 10 million. Not $13,5 because the value of the liquid assets after inflation would be that. This allows massive amounts of fraud.

        7. I proposed the taking of funds given to countries such as El Salvador, which is openly sending gang members to US and is not even trying to hide it; take those 60 million and use them to improve the on and off ramps on I-81 to reduce traffic. I even went as far as using the 90 million given to other countries in the area and opening a train line for people of the area to go to DC. That would increase property values and increase jobs.

        8. I proposed the editing of the ACA (affordable care act) to require all generics to be produced in the US; because now we are sending around 20 million a week to foreign countries to send us generics that are made in conditions that are disgusting if not unsanitary. Furthermore, the bioavailability of the medication from these countries has a margin of error of almost 22%. This is terrible for people on heart medications since a dosage of 20mg is not the same as 16.5mg or 24mg; yet now most generics made abroad are allowed such margins. So we are creating jobs abroad, making other people rich with our tax money, AND screwing up our own with medications that are mediocre if not inefficient.

        9. I proposed a term limit vote; where the district votes if to establish a term limit on their candidate. You could call it a “term limit referendum”. That way we avoid having to fight nationally the issue of term limits and allow the people of each district if to choose a term limit if they want to.

        10. I proposed mandatory limit in federal budgets that would only allow a congressman or congresswoman to vote on a budget that does not exceed 18 months. That way we do not have half-thought budgets like the ones we have had; the ones that put everyone under 20 carrying a debt they will be unable to pay and bankrupting our country in the next 25 years.

        The list goes on and on. None of my options include changing our Constitution; because the problem is that we vote for people that want power not that want solutions.

        Ed Justo

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.