In an email sent to the 6th Congressional District late Friday afternoon, Republican Party of Virginia (RPV) Chairman John Whitbeck laid it on the line: “… in the past 24 hours the RPV and I have been bombarded with complaints from delegates who are believing they are being excluded from participating in the 6th District Convention.”
RPV expanded its investigation in the desire to protect the rights of delegates to vote at the upcoming 6th District Convention. Here are RPV’s findings so far, in an email from Whitbeck:
I am writing to address a new issue that has arisen with respect to the delegates attending the 6th District Convention and to inform you that the RPV and I are going to protect the rights of delegates wrongfully excluded to vote in this convention. Let me be clear, the purposes of this email is not to accuse anyone of anything, and merely to inform you of what we know and advise you of what we intend to do about it.
First, in the past 24 hours the RPV and I have been bombarded with complaints from delegates who are believing they are being excluded from participating in the 6th District Convention. Our information in a nutshell is that there are over 90 delegates who are in this situation, and I am hearing from unit chairs that there maybe more. We have reviewed the situation and determined that the following is occurring:
1) A group calling itself the “Dunbar Credentials Team” or the “Dunbar Campaign Credentials Team” (“the Dunbar Team”) is emailing Credentials Committee Chairman Charlie Nave and copying specific delegates indicating that they “find that” the delegates are disqualified from participating in the convention. The emails contain the reasons for the disqualification and are phrased in a way that looks like it is a done deal, i.e. “we find this individual ineligible to be credentialed as a delegate to the 6th District convention due to…..”
2) In some of the emails we have, the head of the committee, Chairman Sayre, has tasked with heading up credentials issues then sends an email to the accused delegate saying, “I will be sending out an email tomorrow with procedures for contesting these protests. I cannot speak for the committee, but the procedure is likely to include arguing your case at the Stonebridge Center in Natural Bridge Station on Saturday (5/12).” This email has been interpreted by us to mean an email with procedures would go out Friday (today) for a “hearing” to be conducted “Saturday.”
Second, in response to these allegations I reached out to members of the 6th and found the following:
1) Spoke to 6th District Chairman Scott Sayre who stated he did not know anything about the group calling themselves the “Dunbar Credentials Team” or the procedures the Credentials Committee was going to follow in response to their delegate challenges. I asked him to consider stopping the procedures but he did not know what I was referring to. He followed up with an email wherein he indicated he was looking into it. I responded by telling him I was pretty clear on what was going on.
2) Spoke to proposed Credentials Committee Chairman Charlie Nave who thoroughly explained the procedures to me and answered my questions. I asked him to consider discontinuing the procedures and we disagreed with each other on the issue. The call was very productive and I reminded him I in no way ascribe ulterior motives to what he is trying to do with the credentials process.
3) Spoke to the three unit chairs about the impact this is having on their units and any effected delegates in their jurisdiction.
4) Reviewed and responded to every email sent directly to me pleading for assistance.
5) Reviewed every email we have that was sent to the RPV on the subject.
6) Consulted with staff regarding this issue including our legal counsel.
7) Reviewed the 2011 General Counsel Ruling  sent by John Findlay earlier today. Please note the following from our General Counsel research:
Any delegate who was duly elected by their committee must be given credentials for the temporary chair election.
*The ad hoc credentials committee has no right to de-certify delegates. Only the convention has the right to determine who is seated.
*The local units certify delegates, the credentials committee recommends to the convention whether a delegate is seated. The convention seats delegates.
In short, I am satisfied that I have thoroughly reviewed the issue, considered it, and can appropriately articulate our position with respect thereto.
Third, let me detail examples of who the Credentials Committee is being asked to exclude:
-A former aide to Speaker Vance Wilkins
-The elected Republican Commonwealth’s Attorney of Page County
-The elected Republican Clerk of the Court of Page County
-A former Executive Director of the Republican Party of Virginia
-A member of the Amherst County Republican Committee serving as a Precinct Captain
-A former elected official in Lexington, Virginia and member of the local GOP unit.
The above list is not exhaustive. There are many more examples, but I am highlighting these few just to make the point that these are not a bunch of Democrats we are policing here. In fact, of the ones we know about being challenged, the delegates sought to be excluded have voted in Republican primaries 193 times over the past 5 years. Note the following calculations also do not count a discrepancy in Page County where those who voted in 2013 are falsely tagged as voting in a Democrat primary.
Fourth, let me say that I am well aware that campaigns have the right to challenge delegates. But it should not be done in this manner. Consider what this procedure looks like. A delegate receives an email from an unknown entity that appears to be affiliated with one of the campaigns. The delegate is led to believe they are already excluded from the language in the email. The delegate is then told that they have less than 24 hours to drive to Natural Bridge to contested their loss of the right to vote in the convention. You would have to be inside the bubble with the rest of us to understand what is going on here. On top of that, the ad hoc credentials committee has no authority to conduct hearings to determine who is seated as a delegate as set forth above. So essentially, this procedure is making it look like you are the final decision-maker over whether a delegate can be seated. I realize that is not at all what is going on here but this is clearly how it looks.
Folks, this is politics. Perception is everything. Delegates are not masters of RPV procedure. When you throw on top of it the fact that they are getting conflicting messages all day long from 8 campaigns, you must understand why the above situation would be very disconcerting to a delegate.
Accordingly, I ask that you immediately discontinue entertaining delegate challenges before the convention from any group and deal with the issues at the convention. I further request that you communicate to each delegate affected by this issue that they are welcome at the convention and that any issues with their eligibility will be dealt with on Saturday May 19.
I ask that Chairman Sayre confirm in writing that these requests are agreed to. If they are not, we will be utilizing all means at our disposal to contact delegates beginning now and throughout the rest of this process, to assure them that they know they are welcome to participate in our party’s processes, that we value their participation and that we are going to be aggressive and fair advocates for their right to cast their vote for the nominee of their choice.
A lot of delegates do not feel welcome at your convention right now and we are going to do everything we can to ensure that changes.
The 6th District Convention is Saturday, May 19, 2018, in Harrisonburg.