5th District GOP Chairman’s Homophobic Comments Result in Support for Riggleman – UPDATED
By Matt Hall and Lynn R. Mitchell
UPDATE #4 – 9/12/2019: Caroline County Republican Committee joins other calls for Melvin Adams’ resignation as 5th Congressional District Chair:
UPDATE #3: After Elliott Harding’s post on Facebook, Melvin Adams sent an email to 5th CD leadership and RPV leadership:
From: Melvin Adams
Sent: Tuesday, September 10, 2019 12:31
To: 5th Congressional District leadership
Subject: Update and Elliott Harding’s resignation
I am writing this morning to give you a general update and report on the resignation of Elliott Harding from our membership.
First the resignation:
During the night, Mr Harding posted on FB his intention to resign. (See attached files.) Because there had been no communication from Mr Harding directly to me on anything related to this issue, I tried to reach him by phone this morning. My call went directly to his answering machine.
At 10:04 AM this morning I received a call from Mr. Harding. He informed me that he had just sent me a letter of resignation. We had an open and cordial conversation related to the bigger issues addressed in his FB post and in the CR / YR responses. I accepted his resignation and wished him well. There are no personal issues between us.
Below is Mr Harding’s official letter of resignation with my response:
Good morning Thomas & Melvin,
I’m writing to let you both know that I am resigning my position as the YRFV Representative to the 5th District Committee. Unlike a traditional unit Chairmanship that represents the local members of their committee, the YRFV position is one that serves as the pleasure of the Federation and represents the interests of the YRFV, not the District or the District Committee. Given my time commitments, as well as the 2019 cycle, I believe another representative may be better served to advance these interests of the Federation within the District, the Chapters, and the 5th District Committee for the foreseeable future. I appreciate all of the work y’all do and the the success we’ve managed to achieve when we work collaboratively. I hope both organizations can work in such a manner in 2020 while maintaining an immediate focus on preserving both chambers of the General Assembly in these next few weeks.
I accept your resignation from the 5th District Committee as a representative of the YRFV.
Thank you for returning my call this morning. Thank you too for your work on behalf of our party and for your personal friendship. I wish you all the best in your race and in the future.
Melvin Adams, Chairman
5th District Republican Committee”
Over the past few days I have been contacted by a surprising number of individuals from our District, including: CRs, YRs, rank and file voting republicans, elected officials and many of you, all expressing support and insisting that I NOT step down as requested by CR and YR leadership. I have also received calls from individuals outside our District expressing the same sentiment, including from members of the SCC Executive Committee. In fact, the only direct contact I have had by anyone opposing my leadership came this morning in the form of a group email to this Committee from Izzy Knight.
Bottom line – I have been informed by several, who have shared conversation they were privy to and have shared threads of communication, that this is a coordinated effort and specifically “agenda” driven. Our District is being targeted based on recent events and because of our conservative nature.
My position – I have no intention of stepping down under this pressure. That would create even more attacks against Virginia’s conservative leaders and our voters. I serve Republicans District wide and this Committee. Every voter matters and deserves respect because of the person they are, but our personal and party principles are determined at a higher level.
I am committed to working with you to keep focused on our all important 2019 elections. Let’s not leave any stone left unturned.
Finally, we have a financial reporting requirement coming up with the state next week. I will ask that a report be sent to the Committee and will also call a meeting of the EC to determine additional financial assistance to strategic races.
Melvin Adams, Chairman
5th District Republican Committee
UPDATE #2: State Senate candidate Elliott Harding called on Melvin Adams to resign as 5th District Chairman while announcing his resignation as the YR representative to the 5th Congressional District Committee.
UPDATE #1 – 9/9/2019: The Young Republican Federation of Virginia issued a press release addressing this issue:
A storm began brewing over a month ago on “Virginia’s 5th Congressional District GOP Voters” Facebook page after Congressman Denver Riggleman (R-5th CD) officiated at a July wedding between a gay couple who volunteered for his campaign.
During discussion on the FB page, 5th CD Chairman Melvin Adams Sr. left a comment that started a fire of protests and has led to calls for his resignation:
As the conversation continued to rage in the 5th District, College Republicans at the University of Virginia and Longwood University were shocked at Adams’ portrayal of those in the gay community, demanding, “As the youth of this party, we refuse to allow the values we hold to be so wildly misrepresented.” A joint statement was issued calling for his resignation:
Statewide College Republicans have also responded by reminding their elders, who obviously do not feel the same, that they are an inclusive organization that does not discriminate against its members and states loud and clear, “The College Republican Federation of Virginia condemns the Fifth Congressional District Republican Committee Chair’s recent abhorrent comments about homosexuality”:
As the circular firing squad took aim, Denver Riggleman received a letter from Jerry Falwell Jr., president of Liberty University, who let the 5th District know in no uncertain terms that he was supporting the Congressman. He called for unity for the sake of a Republican majority and ended by saying he would be endorsing Riggleman’s 2020 bid because of his liberty-minded conservatism and their shared values:
This week Virginia’s former Governor and U.S. Senator George Allen showed his support for the Congressman when he wrote on Facebook:
Bedford County Republican Committee decided to take it a step further and, under the leadership of Chairman Nate Boyer, passed a resolution that censured Congressman Riggleman:
Bedford GOP Committee voted to censure Riggleman last night. Person who brought motion forward was same person who brought failed motion up at the 5th Congressional District Committee meeting. Another local committee voted no confidence in Riggleman. https://t.co/1PaUUhmpxq
— Amy Friedenberger (@AJFriedenberger) September 6, 2019
Meanwhile, as the voices of those opposed to Riggleman’s act of officiating at the ceremony grew louder in their determination to undermine the congressman, this was happening:
Anyway, Democrats are targeting Riggleman next year and there are already three Democrats seeking the chance the challenge him https://t.co/V0veR1R7vV
— Amy Friedenberger (@AJFriedenberger) September 6, 2019
Perhaps that is the goal of those who continue this battle of futility, to turn the seat over to Democrats in order to prevent it from being held by a candidate who expresses mainstream conservative views which they themselves do not hold.
There are also those who rattle cages to cause dissension so they can run candidates and pad their own pockets. A majority of the people causing Congressman Riggleman problems are the people who financially benefited from running right wing extremist candidates, like his former opponent Cynthia Dunbar. Wonder if they are doing this because of their extremist views or are they doing it to line their own pockets? You be the judge.