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Hey, New Kent County Voters … Do You Think This Should Stand?

You, who are on the road, must have a code that you can live by
And so become yourself because the past is just a good-bye
Teach your children well; your father’s hell, did slowly go by
And feed them on your dreams, the one they picks; the one you’ll know by…

–Crosby Stills and Nash, “Teach Your Children”

Anyone involved in politics can probably tell you at least one story when someone treated them with such disrespect that it made them question why anyone would put themselves out there to take such abuse. But where is the line of “deplorable” that cannot be crossed? Even in the current political environment, surely the line still exists?

Well, here in New Kent County, I believe that line was crossed last year; at this point, I believe that line has been erased. I am aware my opinion might differ from others. So, I will lay it out and let you decide.

Don’t we teach our children not to bully others? Of course we do because it’s wrong, and it can have tremendous harmful effects that some kids never fully recover from. But what do you do when the bullies are adults who are serving as members of the Executive Committee of a local Republican Unit … and the bullied are minor children who, to add insult to injury, are the members of a local Young Republicans Club?

Most people understand the children are the future. If you belong to a political party or any other group, it will need younger people to become involved and to embrace civic duty.

But here we are, faced with yet another situation where a different member of the New Kent County Republican Committee (NKCRC) Executive Committee has apparently acted worse than the former [1] chairman. Yes, I am aware Mr. Daniel is running the meetings again, after his Forrest Gump style, Oh golly gosh, I’m so sorry … I didn’t know who I recorded a song for, plea before the State Central Committee, but I question whether or not the full New Kent unit committee has voted him back into the unit, AND back into the Chairmanship. That question raises a host of other issues that I’ll reserve for another day.

New Kent County is a very conservative county with an active citizenry. The New Kent County Unit of the Republican Party of Virginia is an official committee. There are three Executive Committee members who, for reasons that continue to escape all logic, will do whatever they think is necessary to get their way. It seems as if control is more important to them than building the unit and winning elections. Mark Daniel, JB Benson, and Tom Miller … I call them the Three Amigos (but I intend no offense whatsoever to any other Amigos).

Case in point was the fiasco last year in the 97th LDC contest between Scott Wyatt and Del. Chris Peace. And unfortunately, it’s the fiasco that just keeps on giving…like the energizer bunny on steroids, washed down with a Red Bull.

This post is not about Del. Wyatt or former Del. Peace. It’s about grown men bullying a group of kids who are the future of the party in New Kent.

New Kent also has a strong Young Republicans Club that was based out of the high school. They are very active in their support and work they do for the party. Last year, the whole committee took a vote. There were kids that supported Wyatt, and kids that supported Peace. They decided it was fine to support whoever they wished … and they did … until….

At least two of the Amigos found out that some of the kids were supporting Del. Peace. So, on 11/1/2019, Mr. Benson notified these kids that if they supported Del. Peace, they would be barred from RPV activity for FOUR YEARS.

Anyone who has ever read the RPV State Party Plan will see why this move was lower than dysenteric amoeba on pond scum. The SPP states:

SECTION A. Qualifications

  1. All legal and qualified voters under the laws of the Commonwealth of Virginia, regardless of race, religion, national origin or sex, who are in accord with the principles of the Republican Party, and who, if requested, express in open meeting either orally or in writing as may be required their intent to support all of its nominees for public office in the ensuing election may participate as members of the Republican Party of Virginia in its mass meetings, party canvasses, conventions, or primaries encompassing their respective election districts.

  2. A voter who, subsequent to making a statement of intent, publicly supports a candidate in opposition to a Republican nominee shall not be qualified for participation in party actions as defined in Article I for a period of four (4) years.

First of all, these kids are minor children. They aren’t voters yet so they have never signed anything. This threat of expulsion from party activity is absolutely baseless, and the kids know it. So, on 12/5/2019, rather than sinking to the level of the Amigos, they wrote a letter [2] to the RPV.

Even as basic as the letter was, at least two Amigos decided that these kids must be stopped.  So they had the former Youth Club Chairman (who also happens to be the NKRC 1st Vice-Chairman’s son, who is now at college) call and inform the kids that the NKRC unit was going to take legal action against them for defamation.

Are you serious? How insecure does a grown man need to be to sink as low as to make this threat to a group of kids? Oh, and by the way …the truth is an absolute defense against defamation, and they knew it. But what the hell, if they can get their way by making such a threat, why not?

These fools threaten to sue a group of kids, and keep them out of the party for four years for writing a letter. I wonder, did any of these people ask the kids why they felt the need to send the letter to begin with?  I only wish that was the end of it.

Mr. Benson also contacted the school principal. I do not have knowledge of exactly what was said when Mr. Benson called the principal (my opinion is that he likely made the same threats, but I don’t understand why the principal was affected by them … he should have told Mr. Benson to pound sand). Anyhow, as a result of that call, the school informed the club they were not a club anymore, and seized all of their money that was raised outside of school.

It should be noted that the New Kent High School NKHS Republican Club was not listed on any of the school lists for “Clubs.” The most recent list of Official NKHS Clubs [3] (as of 2/13/2020) is from the 2018-2019 school year, and there was no NKHS Republican Club listed, even then.

These are very smart kids who will not be intimidated. They understand the school rules and they do not believe they have broken any of them. Honestly, after reviewing the entire School Board Manual, I can’t find a rule or procedure they have broken either. They feel their rights have been violated, and now they are understandably angry. They were careful to preserve every email, and made detailed notes of these events. I will not post the individual emails because I want to protect the individuals involved.  However, I do have them, I have read them, and everything the kids have said is backed up by official emails.

They kept a timeline [4] so they could try to work through this mess carefully. All they want at this point is to ensure the future use of their funds.  So, after trying to work within the system to resolve their issue (to no avail) last Monday, they took their issue to the School Board during the public comment period. You can read the statements here [5] and here. [6]

I spoke to the principal at the high school a few days ago after the kids went to the school board. Understandably, because the kids had taken the issue to the school board, he referred me to the Superintendent for any future questions. But he wanted to clarify that the funds were not seized. However, the kids would need to submit a request for funds like every other club. That makes perfect sense, so long as the school has now decided the club is a “club.”

Since I spoke to the principal, the kids and school administration have had another meeting and decided the “New Kent Youth Republican Club” will be a community organization spreading conservatism and Republican values to youth in New Kent County. The group does have a local elected official who has agreed to be their community sponsor. They will also have a club at the high school called the “New Kent High School Republican Club,” and that group will be an internal group in the high school.

This settlement raises a few practical questions in my mind. For example, will there be different rules for things like reporting requirements for donations? When either club raises money, can someone claim those funds are part of the county unit? The school will not release “activity funds” for the high school club held in the school account unless the funds are for approved activities. But who gets to determine what is “approved”?  The school? Or JB Benson?

Or in this case, is there a difference? What if they want to support a candidate in the future? How will a candidate be required to handle reporting? How will they separate funds and activities enough to satisfy the school board’s auditors when so many of the same kids will belong to, and be active in, both groups? Another example…

The New Kent Youth Republican Club has a great program scheduled for their next fund raiser on February 24. Former Lt. Governor Bill Bolling is their guest speaker. This program was planned before the NKHS club was shut down, so are they under the impression those funds will go to the school account?

Those questions are generally hypothetical, and I am confident their advisor will take care of the necessary details. In my humble opinion, I think they should consider joining the Young Republican Federation of Virginia. That is an official group of the RPV, it would give these kids a vote for a seat at the SCC table … what sweet irony that would be.

My point is that none of this should ever have happened to begin with, and this is but a small number of questions and potential issues that will need to be answered.

Politics, education, and money … difficult mix.

All of this mess because the kids decided who they wanted to support, exercised their 1st Amendment right to write a letter when they felt something was wrong, and the NKR Executive Committee (through two of the three amigos), once again, stuck their noses where they had no business.

So, I ask, what do you think?

Do you think this is an acceptable way to treat future NK Republicans? At what point will the next generation decide the “code that they can live by” is more respectable than that of the adults running the local unit?

Maybe they will decide, as others have, that the best way forward is a course correction through participation. Those who will be 18, SHOW UP AND VOTE! [7] AND … bring ALL of your 18+ friends with you! Those who are not yet 18, do not worry. The house will be clean when you get there … one way or another.