Dunbar Campaign Invites Slating by Suppressing Delegates in a Catch-22

By James Harrison

Just when you thought the Sixth District Convention couldn’t get any worse, a new email from the credentials committee confirms that delegates remain excluded from key votes because of Dunbar’s efforts, and would be unable to vote against attempts to throw them out on the floor of the convention, unless RPV or the Sayre-appointed credentials committee takes action.

On Friday, May 11th, at roughly 3:00 p.m., credentials chairman Charlie Nave sent an email to hundreds of Republican delegates challenged by the “Dunbar Campaign Credentials” team. The timing gave delegates just twenty hours’ notice to appear before the committee when it met Saturday morning at the office of embattled Chairman Scott Sayre, who is hardly a neutral party.

Sayre and Dunbar are the subjects of an FEC complaint that was filed because she was on the payroll of his company which has received 912 federal contracts worth more than $14.5 million. Federal law prohibits cash and in-kind contributions from defense contractors to federal candidates and committees.

While the email attempts to lull delegates into a false sense of security, it also confirms that challenged delegates will be barred from a key vote at the convention – restoring the credentials of challenged delegates – unless the credentials committee reverses course and agrees to Republican Party of Virginia Chairman John Whitbeck’s demand that all qualified and elected delegates be included in the initial credentials report.

The unprecedented arrangement is confirmed in the following language:

“Upon approval of the Credentials Committee Report by the Convention body you will be issued your credentials. The protest will be over and you will be a Delegate entitled to vote on all business/nominations/elections properly before the Convention.”

Sounds fair, right? Sounds nice? It isn’t. Here is how the crooked scheme works.

The convention will not be fully organized until it votes to approve the credentials report, which is a list of delegates entitled to vote. However, as Nave’s email confirms, the credentials committee will not give credentials to challenged delegates until after the credentials committee report is approved.

Nave’s email is crystal clear: he’s saying challenged delegates will not be able to vote on the credentials report.

See the Catch-22?

Roberts Rules of Order provides that:

“On an amendment proposing changes in the list of delegates, none of the delegates involved in the case can vote. Those seated by the [Credentials] committee, though contested in a case not yet reached, can vote on all cases except their own. On the question of adopting the Credentials Committee’s report or on motions connected with its consideration, only those persons whose names are on the list of voting members reported by the committee (as this list stands after any amendment already approved by the convention) are entitled to vote.”

If you are one of the hundreds of delegates challenged by Dunbar, you may not have the credentials you need to vote on the credentials report, which in turn gives you the ability to vote for candidates and for the convention’s rules.

Or, in other words, Dunbar’s campaign can use its fully-credentialed delegates to vote down a credentials report or amendments restoring voting rights to those she challenged in the first place – but only if her delegates are willing to go along with the scheme.

The only way for challenged delegates to fight for other challenged delegates would be for the convention to consider each delegate, one-by-one, in separate amendments, which would slow the convention to a crawl and force many delegates to leave early – possibly in Dunbar’s favor.

Nave left out one key point: the credentials committee can stop all this madness by simply advancing a credentials report accepting everyone who qualifies.

He could have announced that instead of standing behind the denials. He didn’t.

Delegates are right to be worried when the credentials committee chairman tells them they won’t have the credential to vote on the credentials report which restores their ability to vote.

In a complete affront to due process, Nave gave challenged delegates just 20 hours to appeal at a hastily-called meeting in the office of Dunbar ally Scott Sayre.

Should delegates really be expected to drop everything they are doing on 20 hours’ notice, drive hours away, and sit through a hearing in Sayre’s office on a bright and sunny spring Saturday?

The move comes in direct contradiction to the wishes of RPV Chairman John Whitbeck, who was forced to step in this week after rules controversies and Dunbar’s challenges plunged preparations into toxic chaos.

“Accordingly, I ask that you immediately discontinue entertaining delegate challenges before the convention from any group and deal with the issues at the convention,” wrote Chairman Whitbeck, trying stop the challenges.

“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,” he continued.

At controversy are hundreds of delegates whose participation has been challenged by Dunbar.

One large bloc faced challenges claiming they voted in Democratic primaries. For many delegates, this reflected a mistake in their voting record, a data error already confirmed by the voter registrar.

Rather than acknowledging the widespread error, Nave offered a non-solution for many of the affected, which served to continue spreading Dunbar’s suppressive misinformation and failed to fix their inability to vote on the critical credentials report.

“The remedy to this situation is simple and found in Article I, Section A (5) of the Virginia Republican Plan of Organization,” wrote Nave. “A single exception … shall be approved for a voter that renounces affiliation with any other party in writing, and who expresses in writing that he/she is in accord with the principles of the Republican Party and intends, at the time of the writing, to support the nominees of the Republican Party in the future.”

The move is reminiscent of the “loyalty oath” initially demanded of voters in the 2016 Republican presidential primary, which critics said was targeted to discourage Trump supporters from participating.

Likewise, many loyal Republicans who have never voted in another party’s primary are rightfully upset at being told they must make a written statement renouncing their non-existent affiliation with the Democratic Party.

This is not the first due process issue with the credentials committee. Last week, Nave’s email address, which had been designated for challenges, responded to frustrated delegates with a vacation autoresponder informing them that Nave would be out of the office until May 23rd. The convention is scheduled for May 19th.

Nave closed by noting, “Both meetings are entirely optional and you do not lose your Delegate status (or anything else) by ignoring either hearing opportunity.”

He’s correct: delegates do not have to face Dunbar’s accusations, either in Sayre’s office or on the day of the convention.

However, if they failed to drop everything they were doing and showed up in Sayre’s office, they could be caught in Dunbar’s Catch-22 and unable to vote on the credentials report, if the credentials committee continues refusing to include all qualified delegates in the initial report, as demanded by Whitbeck and RPV.

There are two ways to fix this.

The Dunbar-controlled credentials committee could yield to pressure from delegates, and agree to Chairman Whitbeck’s demand that all qualified and duly elected delegates be included in the initial credentials report.

Otherwise, delegates will have to be on the lookout for potential credentials shenanigans, and be prepared to vote against any credentials report which does not include everybody. Even though the credentials committee could advance an incomplete report which leaves Republicans out, delegates do not have to accept it.

One would hope the credentials committee would relent and disregard Dunbar’s baseless challenges. If not, delegates will need to rebuff that effort on the floor.