The Dysfunctional Republican 6th District

On August 3rd, at First Friday, a monthly political gathering in Harrisonburg, the featured speaker was Jennifer Brown, the 6th District Republican Chairman.  I found her inclusion surprising, as she and the leader of First Friday, Donna Moser, are part of two different, presently hostile, factions within the 6th District Republican Committee.

When Jennifer Brown began her speech, she said she needed to address some elephants in the room (or as she called them, donkeys).  One is the pending lawsuit and defense.  Almost since Ms. Brown took over as chair, the two sides have been feuding over a recent decision by the committee to hire a law firm to defend itself against alleged FEC violations made against the committee and the previous chairman, Scott Sayre.  I’ve read that Brown supporters launched the suit against Sayre and other members of the committee in an effort to discredit and defeat Sayre which they did successfully at their May convention.  As a result, the majority of the committee voted to retain a law firm in Indiana for their legal defense at a cost of $30,000.  Ms. Brown opposed this decision by the 6th District committee and has appealed to the Virginia Republican State Central Committee.

Jennifer Brown also spoke of the need for unity, for the group to work together to elect Republican candidates and welcome Democrats who recently walked away from their party so that they would become Republicans rather than turning into independents.  Curiously though, although she welcomed votes and aid from former Democrats, as far as I could tell she didn’t stress advancing any ideological agenda other than a blanket support for Republicans.  She paused to yield some time to Frank McMillan, an independent candidate running for Harrisonburg City Council this year.  As a side note, I noticed that there were three independent city council candidates (McMillan, George Hirschmann from 2016, and me from 2014) at the gathering.  McMillan stated that he was a Republican (and will likely have the backing of the local Republican Party as Hirschmann did in 2016) but stressed he was running as an independent.  I presume that the reason for this maneuver is that the Republican Party label is so toxic in the city of Harrisonburg that using it will almost certainly result in defeat.  After all, since 2009 only one Republican candidate has won the city when facing a Democratic opponent.

After Jennifer Brown gave her speech, she opened the floor for questions.  One local activist, a fellow named Phil Corbo, asked to share an email he recently received from Roger Jarrell, Jennifer Brown’s fiance and apparently legal liaison for the 6th district committee.  Although Donna Moser opposed the reading of the email at first, Mr. Corbo persisted.  In that email, Mr. Jarrell claimed that the leader of First Friday, Ms. Moser, had slandered Ms. Brown at a recent meeting of the local tea party and demanded it cease immediately or legal action could be taken.  As evidence of this slander, it mentioned Cole Trower and other unnamed parties.  Mr. Corbo declared that although he had been involved in New Jersey politics for decades, he had never seen such dirty politics as what has been going on in the 6th district prior to the recent convention and at the present.

At first, Jennifer Brown offered to apologize if the allegations from Mr. Jarrell were proven untrue, but when several of the attendees declared that Ms. Moser did not slander Ms. Brown at the tea party meeting, her tone became rather defensive.  Donna Moser steered the conversation toward announcements and the subject dissipated.  (Here is a clip of that part of the gathering).

What is most troubling to me is not whether or not individuals are critical of Ms. Brown’s leadership as chairman, (after all it is impossible to be both effective in politics and still please everyone) but rather the fact that she would consider taking legal action against a person who potentially declared her to be inept and/or ineffectual.  Unlike Ms. Brown, I am not an attorney but, to the best of my understanding, questioning the effectiveness of a leader does not rise to the legal definition of slander.

I left First Friday with the impression that the 6th District GOP was seriously dysfunctional.  How can a party operate properly when the chairman opposes and attempts to undermine the will of a majority of the committee?  Or if her fiance attempts to bully other members of the committee?  A recent article on The Bull Elephant highlights some of these problems. In addition, as Bearing Drift reports, the Lynchburg Republican Party passed a vote of no confidence against those committee members who vote for representation from the Indiana legal firm.

After witnessing what happened on Friday it seems to me that either the two sides need to reconcile quickly or, more likely, it will result in a civil war for control; if that takes place, my money is that the majority of the committee will end up deposing Ms. Brown before the end of her term.  If I were a Republican candidate running this year anywhere in the 6th district of Virginia, I would be seriously concerned about this state of affairs.  Despite these developments, I don’t expect November’s blue wave to overwhelm the deeply Republican Shenandoah Valley and claim victory for the 6th Congressional seat, but a divided and squabbling committee might spell certain doom for a number of local candidates in the area this year and possibly lead to inroads from Democrats in the 2019 General Assembly elections.

The Virginia Republican Throwback Pledge

In the last several days, a number of Virginia activists, bloggers, and the Donald Trump campaign are up in arms about a pledge the Republican Party of Virginia is insisting on voters signing.  They want all voters in Virginia’s March 1st Republican Presidential Primary to sign a document indicating that they are Republicans.  It certainly makes sense to have only Republicans choose the Republican nominee.  However, despite this worthless pledge, there is no way to tell who is a Republican because the party’s principles are ill-defined and ill-enforced.  In addition, the fact that the party is making all Virginia taxpayers pay for this primary should be reason enough to shoot down this foolish pledge.

However, this isn’t the first time that the Republican Party of Virginia has tried to compel Virginia voters to give them their loyalty.  Although many likely don’t remember, the RPV created a pledge prior to their 2012 primary.  This was was far more odious as it read, “I, the undersigned, pledge that I intend to support the nominee of the Republican Party for president.”  Why anyone would agree to such a blanket statement without knowing who the nominee would be and what he or she stands for is baffling.

TTIn response, on December 30, 2011, Bill Kristol of The Weekly Standard urged his readers to boycott the Virginia primary if the RPV insisted on this pledge.  I discovered this piece after he had included a link in the article to my website.  As I wrote four years ago, “A few moments ago, I was surprised to find that well-known neo-conservative analyst and editor of The Weekly Standard, William Kristol, wrote a piece yesterday linking to my blog, The Virginia Conservative. Even though we disagree on quite a few issues, (and I don’t think that boycotting is the best solution to the problem) I’m glad to see that we both believe that the loyalty oath in the upcoming VA GOP primary is folly.”  As a result of massive public outcry against it, the party dumped the pledge shortly thereafter and it was soon forgotten by almost everyone.

However, here we are four years later and again the Republican Party of Virginia is pushing its pledge and, just like last time, the public is rising up against it.

As Shaun Kenney of Bearing Drift wrote recently, the party can either hold a convention, which is privately funded by the party in which they get to choose who participates, or they can choose an open primary that is and ought to be open to any voter that helps fund it.  As a party supposedly devoted to fiscal responsibility and liberty, they shouldn’t suckle at the public teat for funding of their private inter-workings, try and fail to restrict participation, then complain when they end up with another terrible candidate in the mold of John McCain or Mitt Romney.

You have to wonder if the leaders of the RPV remember their history at all.  Are they doomed to making the same mistake every four years, using tax dollars to fund their private party contests and then trying to restrict which of these taxpayers can participate?  Will this ugly issue resurface in 2020 (assuming the GOP loses the presidency again) or 2024?

It is profoundly frustrating the Republican Party and their State Central Committee continually demand unquestioned loyalty to their party and their elected officials especially given that neither one is held to any sort of ideological standard.  Is there any wonder why more people, like Franklin Graham, have left their party and become independents?

Well, if history is any guide, we’ll discuss this issue again four years from now as we work to shoot down another RPV pledge.  Enjoy your Throwback Thursday.

The GOP is Falling Apart

Image from sodahead.com
Image from sodahead.com

On Saturday night, before sitting down to play Die Macher with a handful of friends, I had the opportunity to speak with a local professor about politics.  A self-identified Republican, he voiced his frustration with the direction that the party has been heading.  In an earlier conversation he mentioned that although he had donated to the party in the past, he has not done so in some time.

As a libertarian within the GOP, the professor said that he now has little in common with the other factions in the party.  Although the Republican Party used to be an advocate for both fiscal responsibility and limited government, those haven’t been primary concerns in many years.  Amusingly, the professor has a Republican elephant magnet on his refrigerator, but it is turned upside down as if the party were now dead.

Looking at the matter objectively, what have limited government advocates gained in the past 15 years with the Republican Party?  Yes, in the first half George W. Bush was president and in the second Barack Obama has been at the head.  All the while the Republican Party has been in control of Congress more often than the Democrats.  But the policies under both the Republican and Democratic leadership have been fairly consistent.  We’ve gotten a massive increase in our national debt and an expansion of government programs including: No Child Left Behind, Common Core, Medicare Part D, Obamacare, the Patriot Act, NDAA, continual war in the Middle East, the TSA, the Department of Homeland Security, curtailing of our civil liberties, extrajudicial killings of foreign civilians, scores of executive orders, and the list goes on.

As the professor lamented, far too many social conservatives seem to tolerate or even embrace these intrusions so long as Republican politicians continue to offer lip service to God in the public sphere while national defense Republicans howl at any sort of cost saving measures regarding our armed forces or the idea of cutting back on our ever-expanding policing of the world.

Perhaps the worst part is that limited government conservatives are actively being fooled (or more realistically they are fooling themselves).  For example, when the 10th district of Virginia was deciding upon a Republican candidate to replace Frank Wolf, anyone who had been paying attention would know that based upon her rhetoric and record that Barbara Comstock was not a conservative by any stretch of the imagination.   After she won the nomination and the election many seemed surprised when she voted more like the Democrats than any other national Republican legislator in the state.  Or how about Paul Ryan?  When he campaigned for vice president in 2012, I had an opportunity to listen to him in person and came to the unfortunate conclusion that he was about as committed to limiting the power of government and reducing the national debt as my own representative, Bob Goodlatte (VA-6).  It seems odd that people are now calling Speaker of the House Paul Ryan a traitor after he pushed through the latest budget given that his track record showed that that was exactly what he was going to do if he were given such authority.  Isn’t it painfully obvious that neither Paul Ryan nor Barbara Comstock share our ideology?  Therefore, why in the world should we support them?

Over at Bearing Drift Brian Schoeneman bemoans the infighting in the Republican Party, declaring that the libertarian Republicans “openly flaunt their unwillingness to stand by the Party when it does things they disagree with, going so far as to run and support third party candidates that have cost Republicans victories”.  However, the better question one should ask is, why should liberty-minded folks continue to support the Republican Party?  In the last decade and a half can you name even one federal department that has been eliminated or drastically curtailed as a result of Republican leadership?  Can you point out more examples of ways that the Republican Party has reduced government involvement in our lives…or ways that they have expanded it?

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The William & Mary College Republicans and Margaret Thatcher in 2000.

I would argue that regardless of party Americans desperately need a Margaret Thatcher.  After World War II the Conservative Party more or less surrendered on the issue of limiting the power of the British government, much like the current Republican Party, instead trying to make the bloated national government as efficient as possible.  However, Thatcher upset the wisdom of the day by openly questioning government involvement in a variety of areas that used to be under the control of the private sector, charities, or churches and, once she became prime minister, instituted policies which began to dismantle government control.  How many leaders of today’s Republican Party are willing to take such a step?  Certainly not Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, not Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, and not most of the Republican or Democratic candidates running for president.

The traditional three-legged stool of the GOP is falling apart because the party has almost completely abandoned the tenets of liberty and limited government.  The party is led by men and women who treat power and not principle as the holy grail of politics and are willing to sacrifice anything to achieve it.  When these people don’t get the influence that they so desperately desire, rather than blaming their failed policies they blame us for not blindly following them!  If the Republican leadership is unwilling or unable to abide by the limitations set forth in the Constitution, perhaps liberty-minded folks ought to take the advice of Dr. Henry Jones at the end of Indiana Jones & The Last Crusade:

A Cry for Party Unity?

Delegate Mark Berg
Delegate Mark Berg

This morning, I read a piece on Bearing Drift where Brian, the author, calls for party unity in the Republican Party.  Specifically, he points to the 29th House of Delegates district in Virginia where some supporters of Delegate Mark Berg have openly declared that they will be writing in Berg’s name as opposed to voting for the Republican who defeated him in the June primary.  The writer is upset that Delegate Berg has not publicly denounced this grassroots plan.  Chris Collins, the Republican candidate in the 29th is running unopposed in the general election.

Unfortunately, this sort of thinking is all too common in the Republican Party these days.  Support the party no matter what!  It doesn’t matter what the candidate stands for, at the end of the day all Republicans must support him!

I think back to my expulsion from the local GOP over a year and a half ago.  And it’s true, although I was member of the Republican Party (and a former employee of the state party), I began to openly oppose Republicans who I felt didn’t represent my values.  When I was removed, I got into a discussion with one of the local leaders about the situation.  I said that we needed to support strong conservatives and libertarians who stood up for the Creed of the Virginia Republican Party.  She disagreed declaring that “a good Republican” was one “that supports all of the Republican candidates”.  What an unfortunate state of affairs.  Think about what is being said.  Where a candidate stands, what his or her principles and ethics are doesn’t really matter.  All Republicans are expected to support the Republican nominee…no matter what.

Yes, I supported Delegate Berg in the 2015 primary even though I didn’t live in the district and I took off part of the day to campaign for him at the polls.  In response, my state senator’s former legislative assistant, an entrenched establishment Republican, began attacking me on Facebook saying that it wasn’t right for me to help a candidate I believe in because I wasn’t a member of the party any longer.  That’s funny.  I thought we lived in a nation where we still enjoyed freedom of speech and freedom of association.  Do you think he would have complained if I had aided Berg’s establishment backed opponent?

What I’ve noticed is that the establishment calls for party unity when they want to get their hack of a candidate elected, but have no problem leaving principled people high and dry.  The driving motivation of some people is to elect members of their party and, unfortunately, it really doesn’t matter what these people stand for.  In fact, it is better if they are ruled by their ambitions rather than ideology for these people will be more likely to avoid controversy because they will do whatever the party leadership in Richmond or Washington tells them to do.  They feel that they must keep the conservatives and libertarians quiet and under a tight leash or the leaders could be exposed as the frauds they are.  Party unity in the GOP is a joke.  A sad, pathetic joke.

12105703_10153363121401051_4033843500359479141_nAlthough I certainly have policy disagreements with Dr. Ben Carson, I think he hits the nail on the head with his quote, “the problem with Washington is that we’ve all become Democrats and Republicans instead of Americans.  Everything is aimed at enhancing a political position instead of strengthening America.”

Make whatever jokes about the Libertarian Party you like, but recently the chairman of the Libertarian Party of Florida resigned instead of supporting a potentially fascist Libertarian candidate for U.S. Senate.  Are there many Republican Party leaders who would do likewise if placed in a similar situation?

At this point frankly, I don’t care if the Republicans or the Democrats control Congress.  Speaker John Boehner made it abundantly clear that he would sell-out the grassroots and punish principled legislators who tried to hold him to account.  Will his replacement be any better?  In addition, I don’t care which of the two parties wins control of the Virginia Senate in the 2015 elections.  What I do care about is electing men and women who will boldly and unreservedly stand up for my principles and who are more worried about advancing liberty and limiting the size and scope of government at all levels instead of pleasing the party bosses and maintaining their power base for as long as possible.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again.  If I lived in the 29th House of Delegates district, I would write in Delegate Mark Berg on November 3rd.  Then again, maybe I have the freedom to say such things because I’m a liberated former Republican.

One reason why this country is so screwed up is that politicos have forgotten that principles should guide political parties and not the other way around.  Want to know why outsiders are currently leading in the Republican presidential primaries?  It’s because honest, hard-working Americans are sick of this “party first” crap.  Given their current disdain for him, will the establishment remember this call for unity next year and rally behind Donald Trump if he becomes the party’s nominee?  I’m glad I have liberty to make that decision for myself.

Sam Rasoul is a Terrorist?

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2008 campaign photo from Sam Rasoul’s Facebook page

Earlier today, JHPolitics posted a piece supposedly linking Democratic Roanoke House of Delegates candidate Sam Rasoul to terrorism.  One of his donors, a group called Mar-Jac Investments, may have ties to the funding of radical Islam.  As the author concludes, “Virginians deserve better than representatives who may owe favors to such nefarious figures.”

In response, Shaun Kenney at Bearing Drift points out there are several issues that ought to be addressed in this matter.  One particularly pressing one is that if Mar-Jac does have a terrorist link, what does that mean for other recipients of their funds, such as Republican State Senator Dick Black, Democratic Virginia Governor-elect Terry McAuliffe, and Republican Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli?  I encourage you to read his entire post.

Normally, as this issue has been picked up by Bearing Drift, I’d likely leave it as is.  However, as some of my political associates have been running with Rasoul’s supposed ties to terrorism, I felt I had to offer my thoughts.  Even the Republican Party of Virginia is spreading it too.  Although I haven’t spent much time reading about Mr. Rasoul since he ran for House of Representatives in 2008 and almost certainly wouldn’t be supporting him in his House of Delegates race, we can’t go about grasping at straws and making wild accusations.  By all means, figure out what Mar-Jac is all about.  However, for anyone who seeks to condemn Rasoul for this donor, are you also willing to declare Republicans who have benefited tainted as well?

Can we please have a race where we focus on principles and substance?  Or am I simply asking too much?

Organ Bill Struck

Yesterday’s piece on The Virginia Conservative regarding some rather curious potential changes in the organ donation process in the state of Virginia (HB 154) generated considerable amounts of confusion and anger.  I appreciated the opportunity to speak with Delegate Dickie Bell about this piece of legislation in addition to correcting an error I made in my article.

Picture from Delegate Bell's Facebook page
Picture from Delegate Bell’s Facebook page

This morning, as already reported by Bearing Drift, I have received a message from Delegate Bell stating, “HB154 has created a great deal of controversy and that was never my intention. I assure you that the bill will not go forward and I will strike it officially as soon as that is possible. Be advised that it may still show up until officially taken down in the process. My apologies for the confusion. I accept full responsibility.“.  Although I understand the need to spread awareness about organ donation, many of us were concerned that this bill would create many harmful consequences.

I thank Delegate Bell for his continued efforts on behalf of the citizens of the Shenandoah Valley as well as his decision to not promote this bill in next year’s General Assembly session.

In liberty!

2013 Post Election Thoughts

Vote HereWell, ladies and gentlemen, it has been nearly a week since the election of November 5th.  Perhaps it is time for a little analysis.  Before I begin, I should add that the week before the election, Bearing Drift asked their readers to offer their predictions on how things would turn out.  Therefore, in each race, I’ll start by mentioning my predictions.

Governor

Prediction: McAuliffe 51%, Cuccinelli 43%, Sarvis 6%

Actual: McAuliffe 47.74%, Cuccinelli 45.23%, Sarvis 6.52%

The four November polls in the lead up to Election Day predicted Cuccinelli down by significant percentages, 12%, 7%, 6%, and 7%.  Only one, Emerson College placed him within two points and the margin of error.  As Cuccinelli had not been leading in a poll since mid July, the general thought was that it wasn’t going to be a particularly close race.  However, the Cuccinelli campaign tried two tactics right before judgment day.

The first involved Obamacare.  Given that citizens across the country were having tremendous difficulty signing up on the official website, this frustration and anger proved to be fertile ground for the Cuccinelli camp given that Cuccinelli had been attacking the program within hours of its passage.  If the Cuccinelli campaign had latched onto this message sooner rather than relentlessly attacking McAuliffe, then perhaps they would have stood a good chance of actually winning.

Second, as negativity was their style, the Cuccinelli campaign and their allies attempted last minute smearing of Robert Sarvis, declaring that he was not a real libertarian and that he was secretly funded by Democrats.  Although neither of these claims were grounded in much fact, as they were distributed by both leaders in the liberty movement and a handful of well-known media sources, some voters accepted them as true and passed them on to their friends and neighbors unquestioned.  Although these tactics likely enraged a number of Sarvis supporters and turned them further from Cuccinelli, it did drive others to switch their votes from Sarvis to Cuccinelli.  Although I predicted that Sarvis would pull equally from both McAuliffe and Cuccinelli, exit polls show that either his presence didn’t affect the overall outcome or he drew more from the Democratic side than the Republican.  However, this last ditch effort to win Sarvis support likely caused an even deeper fracture within the liberty movement in Virginia.

10% was the hurdle that Sarvis needed to reach and, as I predicted, he fell short.  However, assuming these false attacks were not launched, it would have been interesting to see how close he would have come.

Lieutenant Governor

Prediction: Northam 55%, Jackson 45%

Actual: Northam 55.11%, Jackson 44.54%

If you account for rounding, I hit this one exactly on the mark.  Unfortunately, as I stated upon the conclusion of the 2013 Virginia Republican Convention, by nominating Jackson the Republicans had surrendered the LG race.  If you will recall, in Jackson’s previous attempt at a statewide race the year before, he picked up a scant 4.72%.  Although Jackson strongly resonated with the hard-line social conservatives within the GOP, many of his previous statements regarding alternate religions and lifestyles hurt him tremendously among average Virginians.  Although Ralph Northam did not run a particularly impressive or vigorous campaign, all he needed to do was to air some of Jackson’s more controversial statements and victory was all but a certainty.

Attorney General

Prediction: Obenshain 52% Herring 48%

Actual: Obenshain 49.88%, Herring 49.88% (as of 11/10/13)

The Obenshain/Herring contest turned out to be a real nail-biter, with the results still unknown and likely headed to a recount.  Originally, I expected Obenshain to win based upon the fact that the Democrats had not won the attorney general’s spot since 1989 and that Obenshain had been working hard to capture this office for the last several years.  Although, in my opinion, the Obenshain team ran the best of the three Republican campaigns, they were no doubt hampered by troubles at the top of the ticket.  Once news of a possible recount emerged, I was still under the impression that Obenshain would win, but with the addition of “missing” ballots from Fairfax, the results seem a lot more unclear.  We likely won’t know anything definitive for at least a month.

House of Delegates

Prediction: 1 net seat gain for the Democrats

Actual: 1 net seat gain for the Democrats

With all of the excitement surrounding the three statewide races, the hundred seats in the House of Delegates weren’t much more than an afterthought for many Virginia voters.  Although I didn’t know where, I assumed that the Democrats would pick off a Republican somewhere.  It looks as if the GOP lost in the 2nd district, picked up the previously Republican leaning independent seat in the 19th, picked up the vacant seat in the 78th, picked up the vacant seat in 84th, and lost the 93rd.  Elsewhere, there were a considerable number of close contests.  Prior to the elections and vacancies, the Democrats had 32 seats.  Now they have 33.  Although I’ve written extensively on the 93rd in previous posts, it seems that even with a bit of gerrymandering the seat was too difficult for the GOP to hold for long.

So I guess the question now is, will Obenshain win?  And, especially if he does not, given their string of successive statewide losses since the 2009 election, what will become of the Republican Party of Virginia?

The Sarvis 10%

IMG_2184As Virginia approaches its November 5th election, activists are pondering all sorts of questions.  Will Ken Cuccinelli launch a surprise comeback to become the state’s next governor?  Will the Democratic Party sweep the three statewide offices for the first time since 1989?  Will Mark Obenshain win the attorney general’s race, proving to be the one bright spot for the Republican Party on Election Day?  However, one question that will also have a lasting impact on Virginia politics is, will Robert Sarvis meet or exceed the 10% mark?

For some, this last question might sound a bit odd.  Isn’t who wins or loses the election the only important factor?  What difference does it make if Sarvis gets 1%, 5%, 10%, or even 15%?  Well, if Robert Sarvis captures at least 10% of the vote, that means that Virginia would now have three major recognized political parties, the Democrats, Republicans, and the Libertarians.  For the Libertarians, this switch would mean easier ballot access.  For example, although the Libertarians nominated Sarvis by convention in April (similar to how the Republican nominated Cuccinelli in May), the Libertarians were under the additional burden of being required to collect at least 10,000 signatures from registered voters to actually get Sarvis on November’s ballot.  For a smaller party, like the Libertarians, this effort meant considerable manpower and funding.  If Sarvis gets 10% or more, should the Libertarians nominate a candidate via convention for the 2014 Senate race, they would be free from this task, at least for the next several years.

With these thoughts in mind, will Sarvis make 10%?  Recent polls indicate that he could, but many activists are skeptical.  That being said, fellow blogger Shaun Kenney of Bearing Drift stated today on Facebook that Sarvis will reach the 10% threshold.  Anyone else care to offer their predictions?

McDonnell to Resign?

Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell
Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell

Lately, Virginia politics has shifted to an ethics probe surrounding Governor Bob McDonnell.  Yesterday, Bearing Drift, the largest conservative blog in the state, reported that the governor would resign, a rumor denied by the governor’s staff.

To recap for those who haven’t been following this story, Bob McDonnell has recently come under fire as a result of an FBI investigation which discovered that one of his donors has given the governor and his family thousands of dollars in unreported gifts including paying a substantial sum for the wedding of the governor’s daughter and giving the executive a multi-thousand dollar Rolex watch.  State Senator Chap Peterson is the first (and so far only) legislator calling upon the governor to resign.

But what does Governor McDonnell think about possible ethics violations?  Well, if we rewind the clock four years, we come across the case of Phil Hamilton, a former member of the House of Delegates who lost his seat in a scandal involving Old Dominion University.  Almost as soon as the allegations were made, before any charges were filed, McDonnell, along with Virginia Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling and Virginia Republican Party Chairman Pat Mullins, called for Hamilton to resign.  He stated, “From what I have seen of published news accounts containing emails and admissions, it appears that Delegate Hamilton has violated the public trust. Based on this public information it would be in the best interests of his constituents for him to step down…” McDonnell went on to add “…but if he believes that the due process of a full inquiry by the House Ethics Advisory Panel will clear his name, he should have a full opportunity to present his case.”  McDonnell, like his cohorts, were quick to condemn Hamilton without either a trial or full ethics inquiry, choosing instead a course which he thought would best help the party and his own chances during his 2009 run for governor.  Then State Senator Ken Cuccinelli stood alone in his conviction that Hamilton, like anyone accused of a crime, ought to have his day in court before being thrown under the bus by his party and his running mates.

So, will Bob McDonnell resign based upon these charges?  Well, if he wished to remain morally consistent he would do so.  After all, if the mere charges of bribery and corruption were enough to bring down a delegate in 2009, surely this line of thinking would be constant for a governor in 2013 as well.  Unfortunately, especially in politics, far too many politicians live in a world where they insist on a certain moral code…as long as it applies to everyone but the person advocating the code.

Yes, the charges levied against Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell are deeply troubling and, if proven true, he ought to resign his office. Whether the governor survives this scandal or whether he ends up sharing a cell alongside Delegate Hamilton, it is all but certain that this once rumored 2016 presidential contender’s political career has reached its zenith.  However, the hypocrisy of the whole situation is not lost on this blogger.  Remember, as Bob McDonnell said in 2009, “Elected officials must keep the highest ethical standards in order to maintain the public trust.”

Is Bearing Drift’s prediction of a resignation in the works?  I suppose the answer to this question hinges upon the severity of the charges and the evidence against McDonnell.  Either way, I expect we will find out in the coming days.

Who is Susan Stimpson?

Yesterday, fellow blogger Willie Deutsch posted a 2012 campaign piece in which Susan Stimpson joins Bill Howell in urging voters to support George Allen for the United States Senate in the June 12th Republican primary.  This information, along with a host of other adventures once again begs the question, who is Susan Stimpson?

Susan Stimpson at the Middletown Forum
Susan Stimpson at the Middletown Forum

I first had the opportunity to hear Susan Stimpson at last year’s Ron Paul Legacy Dinner in Staunton, Virginia.  At the time, I thought the list of speakers for the event was rather curious.  After all, I only know of two recent candidates who sought or are seeking either statewide or federal office that have openly supported Ron Paul: these are Karen Kwiatkowski (who sought the 6th district GOP nomination) and Delegate Bob Marshall (who ran for Senate in 2008 and 2012).  Although it is quite easy to support the cause of liberty when it is politically advantageous, it is quite another issue entirely to stand on principle regardless of the potentially negative consequences.  Although Stimpson was unknown to many liberty activists, there is no question that she gained considerable traction through her appearance at this dinner.

There seemed to be an increasing avalanche of support for Stimpson among the liberty community.  However, I have urged and continue to urge my fellow activists to learn about all of the candidates before blindly hopping on any bandwagon.

So who is Susan Stimpson?  I’m still not sure, but one moment that sticks out in my mind took place during the forum at Liberty in Lynchburg.  When asked if she supported random drug testing for welfare recipients, she stated that she did.  As someone who considers himself a constitutional conservative, I found this answer to be particularly troubling for two reasons conveniently voiced by Pete Snyder and Senator Steve Martin.  First, as Mr. Snyder pointed out, these drug screenings would be a considerable invasion of privacy.  Although I do not have any fondness for a permanent welfare program, I’m horrified about the prospect of granting the state more power to control its citizens.  The second concern, mentioned by Senator Martin is one of cost.  How would the state be able to afford to drug test recipients?  Wouldn’t such a move require additional state employees and equipment?  From where would these funds come?  Would the move require additional taxes or cuts in more important programs?

Yesterday’s information from Willie Deutsch brings the question of Susan Stimpson into the forefront again.  Is she the liberty candidate?  Is she the rebellious conservative outsider?  Or is she, as Shaun Kenney over at Bearing Drift suggests, an establishment conservative?  Now don’t get me wrong, if a candidate could successfully wear the mantles of both being an establishment Republican while simultaneously viewed as a liberty-minded libertarian/conservative, he or she would likely enjoy tremendous success.  But is such a designation possible or is it merely a shell game that, if discovered, would result in utter disaster, alienating both wings of the Republican Party?

Scott Lingamfelter recently damaged his chances to win over liberty activists with his negative comments about Ron Paul supporters.  But, to the best of my knowledge, he has never claimed to be the “conservative/liberty candidate”.  By comparison, if Stimpson turns out to be merely an establishment candidate who adopted the clothing of liberty for political advantage, the fallout from such a realization would almost certainly be fatal to her campaign.

As a personal note, I must say that it is an extremely liberating feeling to have not selected a candidate yet, to be able to examine all of the candidates as objectively as I can without worrying if this process offends them or causes my employer or co-workers to view me unfavorably.

So, we return to our first question.  Who is Susan Stimpson?  Is she the liberty champion that many of my fellow Ron Paul supporters are selling her to be?  Or is she something else?  Either way, it is unwise to either rush to praise her or condemn her.

Regardless of your political principles, I once again encourage all of the activists seeking to be delegates to the Richmond convention in May to get informed, stay informed, and to share any and all information that they find.  Don’t simply adopt my opinion or the opinion of someone else.  Sure, it takes time, but do the research for yourself.

Lastly, don’t mistakenly think that the main purpose of this article is to disparage Susan Stimpson, but rather to promote awareness.  After all, who knows?  Once all of the dust settles, and I have sufficient data, I may find myself firmly in her camp, assuming her principles closely match my own and her campaign does a decent job articulating her message.  Remember, it is okay to trust, but you must also verify.