Rhetoric Heats Up in 6th District
On Thursday Republican Party of Virginia Chairman John Whitbeck felt compelled to address unprecedented rules that were being proposed in the 6th Congressional District for the upcoming convention. Later that day 6th District Chairman Scott Sayre followed up with an email.
On Friday, Whitbeck responded with a swift follow-up that he sent to 6th Congressional District convention delegates:
By now you have received an email from Chairman Scott Sayre regarding the issues surrounding the 6th District Convention.
In order to ensure you have the full picture, we have provided you with the forwarded email response sent by Chairman John Whitbeck to the 6th District Committee. It follows below.
Dear Chairman Sayre, Chairman Adams, Members of the Committee, and Delegates to the 6th District Convention:
Thank you for your emails. I figured it was easier to just respond with one email to all of you rather than Chairman Sayre or Chairman Adams individually.
At the outset, let me first thank you for all your efforts. Like you, I am an unpaid volunteer and I know how much time this takes away from your lives and your families. Let me also thank the Unit Chairs in the District specifically. I know you have more to do for the party than just this convention and we all appreciate it.
I also want to thank Nate Boyer, Steve Albertson, and Jack Wilson for working with us the past few days to try to resolve many of these issues. I further appreciate the work of the Rules Committee and the Credentials Committee as I know these are very difficult issues.
I further want to state that I have resisted involving myself and the State Party in your convention as long as I could, in the face of intense pressure to put a stop to the issues that have plagued this process. However, once there was an actual danger that delegates were going to be suppressed and the Rules were going down an unprecedented path, the situation became such that we had to get involved. My goal here is to get this convention on track and ensure it is conducted fairly. More importantly, my goal is to ensure that absolutely no appeals are brought before the RPV State Central Committee. I have been part of multiple instances where we have acted to nullify party processes and the notion we would do that in a Congressional nominating convention is unacceptable.
First, it is alleged I have made untrue statements regarding the convention process. With all due respect, we have evidence to support each of my allegations. I have set forth some examples below.
First example, I made the statement: “On March 28, 2018, the head of the 6th District Arrangements Committee discussed proposed rules that would prevent children from sitting with their parents during the convention and prohibit campaigning on the floor by candidates. Both of the aforementioned rules would be unprecedented in the history of our Party’s conventions and are totally unacceptable.” This actually happened so your allegation my statement is false is just not accurate. I am glad the Rules Committee is proposing to change this but they still have an age limit which should be changed. But this begs the question, why the heck was the rule proposed in the first place?
Second example, I made a statement about the banning of the media from the convention floor. Not only is this true, it has been a state-wide media story. The initial rules did not allow for media in delegate areas also known as “the floor.” What’s worse, the excuse given was to accommodate the disabled. I have even been slandered by some saying that I demanded media be present to discriminate against the disabled. Seriously? I work with adults and children with disabilities all the time in my professional life. The notion they are not capable of moving around the floor with the media there is offensive and ridiculous.
Third example, there is evidence to support an effort to disqualify the entire Rockbridge delegation. Attached is an email from your district secretary referencing how “sick to her stomach she was” that Rockbridge’s certifications were improperly filed. Why was this email sent if not as some sort of harbinger of a challenge? It’s not even a close call that they are not disqualified. Why is this email going out? The optics of it alone set off a firestorm in an already scrutinized process, forcing RPV to act.
To make matters worse, I have multiple emails from today from delegates who are being told they are ineligible to vote in the convention because of Party Plan violations. We have researched the cases and they are not ineligible. This is just outrageous. One of them is a former aide to Speaker Vance Wilkins. One of them is the former Executive Director of the RPV. I have attached one of the emails. This is extremely concerning on multiple levels and needs to cease immediately.
I am glad you have publicly cleared the air on these issues, but I also categorically reject the notion that my email contained false allegations. The issues I raised were very legitimate concerns brought to me by dozens of elected delegates in the 6th Congressional District, not to mention multiple candidates for Congress in your District. I also reject the notion we haven’t investigated this. We have actual evidence of everything we are concerned about.
Folks, this is not the first, second, third, or fourth issue we have had to deal with in this process. It is something new every day. It may be unpopular and sure as heck not politically expedient for me, but I have a job to do and that is to ensure that this convention does not go off the rails and hurt our eventual nominee. The fact is it becomes more likely every day that the RPV will be dealing with this on an appeal. I can think of nothing more destructive to unity than state central members overturning a convention process. The very thought of it is unacceptable to me. But so is precluding delegates that are duly elected from voting. RPV must not allow that to happen. You must not allow this to happen.
With respect to Scott’s email to me specifically, it is merely the same email that he sent out to his blast list but I will respond to it anyway. Scott, I accept your invitation to a meeting with your committee. I don’t know why you want the media there but if that is a condition precedent to a meeting then so be it. Please propose dates, times and locations. I would also request that you follow through with my request Scott, and publicly state that you will oppose the attempts to exclude delegates from voting. This is not just an issue of fairness and democracy, it is a liability issue. We simply cannot have delegates excluded for political purposes. Regarding your request that I call you to discuss matters, I have done so on two different issues and it has solved nothing. Maybe our meeting will get us further.
Scott, you are right, untrue accusations harm all Republicans. But unity comes when people believe they are being treated fairly. Right now there are a lot of people in the 6th District who do not feel like they are being treated fairly. We need to fix that before May 19.
Late Friday afternoon John Whitbeck had to address even more issues in the 6th after RPV was bombarded with complaints from delegates who are being excluded from participating in the convention (see follow-up post).
The 6th District Convention will be held Saturday, May 19, in Harrisonburg.
Update: Craig Storrs, Central Regional Vice Chairman for 6th District, emailed the voters in his area. He wrote:
In response to the email screenshots from the “Dunbar Credentials Team” demanding delegates from Amherst County be decredentialed, I sent this email to Charlie Nave, the temporary Credentials Committee Chairman. I copied Ginger Burg, the Amherst GOP Vice Chair; Vance Wilkins, the Amherst GOP Chair; and John Whitbeck, the RPV Chair.
It’s been brought to my attention that a couple credentials challenges have been brought against several Amherst County delegates, by way of screenshots of emails.
Needless to say, I take these allegations very seriously – especially since Amherst County is in the Central Region, which I represent on the District Committee.
I encourage you to err on the side of caution when evaluating these challenges. The intent of our party process should never be to discourage participation unless clear and convincing evidence (I would go so far as to say “beyond a reasonable doubt”) exists to prove that said person violated participation requirements in the State Party Plan, even then – they must be given the opportunity to rectify that with a statement of support. Should they refuse that, then (and only then) would it be appropriate to decredential them.
Regardless, the deadline to file a protest was on Thursday, May 10. You then set an appeal hearing in Natural Bridge for Saturday, May 12th giving those affected only 1 day notice. I am suspicious of the extremely short notice, given that bylaws tend to require 7 days notice before a committee meeting. I see no reason to stray from precedent here.
I advise you not to set a dangerous precedent here of heavy-handed and roughshod tactics. This is not the Republican way, and this is certainly not the Virginia way.
More on the 6th District Convention from Bearing Drift….
–RPV Chairman Whitbeck Reverses Unprecedented 6th District Convention Rules
–Does Metadata Prove Dunbar’s Campaign Lied About Delegate Lists?
–Scott Sayre May Face More FEC Trouble in VA-06
–Records Show House Candidate Cynthia Dunbar on Payroll of Party Chairman’s Company
–Financial Ties With Dunbar Prompt Call for Chairman Sayre’s Resignation
–Cynthia Dunbar Paid Friends & Endorsers Nearly Half of District GOP Budget
–Brown Calls Sayre Ineffective, Using Stall Tactics; Again Calls for His Resignation
–GOP Official Alleges Dunbar Campaign Violated Party Rules
–6th District Plurality Vote Tossed by SCC … Will Be Voted on at Convention
– Nominating Process Excludes Too Many Voters
–6th District Congressional Candidates Outraged at Lack of Transparency
–Storrs: Response to Letter From 6th District Committee Members
–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
–Convention, or Silenced Majority
Cover photo by Lynn R. Mitchell