A New Group for Frederick County

Last year, I wrote an article regarding a meeting of the Frederick County Republican Committee.  Although I’ve been involved in politics for the last 22 years, I’ve never witnessed a gathering as blatantly corrupt as what I saw from the FCRC on the evening of August 30th.  The temporary chair, improperly elected, ignored the complaints arising from the expulsion of several of their members, rammed through the introduction of new members without either discussion or a proper vote, and then immediately declared the meeting adjourned.

Given this unchecked abuse of power by the Frederick County GOP, what should honest, limited government folks in Frederick County do?  Should they remain with the local Republican Party?  I’m sure some have.  But others have gone elsewhere.  For example, when I visited the Frederick County Libertarians several months ago, I found one former member of the Frederick Republicans in attendance.

Now, as an additional option, another group has emerged which calls itself the Conservative Caucus.  Created by Dutch Jennings, the former treasurer of the Frederick County Republican Party, the group held their first organizational meeting on March 22nd.  But who are they and what do they stand for?  To answer that question, the group sent out a press release about a week ago.

D.P. “Dutch” Jennings, Chairman of the Conservative Caucus, has announced the forming of a new group in Frederick County.  The Conservative Caucus met for its organizational meeting last Saturday the 22nd,  and a large room of guests were inducted as new members.

A “caucus” is most frequently a segment, or a subset, of an organized political party.  However, the Conservative Caucus is not currently associated with a political party; but may consider a future filing with the Commonwealth of Virginia as a more formally organized group.  At this time it is an independent community association focused only on local issues with primarily economic impacts.

According to the Conservative Caucus Mission Statement, they are an organization for Frederick County, VA conservatives who wish to promote fiscal responsibility, smaller government, lower taxes, adherence to the Constitution and individual liberty.

They are forming to give a voice to Frederick County voters and taxpayers who wish to know more about and participate in decisions concerning subjects impacting the political and financial well-being of the county.  This provides the opportunity for more citizen participation, needed transparency and positive results.

A focus will be working to identify areas deserving public attention such as local elections, the financial position of Frederick County and the cost of new projects.  Some goals are to further inform the community on local public projects in terms of reasonable need, not just want; process and methods of accomplishment; cost effectiveness and impact on county residents. This will be accomplished by a number of initiatives that will be announced later in the year.

According to Jennings, “We look forward to like-minded county residents joining our efforts. Citizens desiring to work in a friendly, cooperative environment to make Frederick County a more honest and open place to live and work are invited to contact the Conservative Caucus via our website cc-fcva.com.”

To join, a citizen must be proposed by a member and be voted in by the Steering Committee.  The Caucus’s policy is to keep member information confidential.

So, there you have it.  Although the Frederick County GOP has driven away a portion of their membership with their shady behavior, some of these folks have come together in this nonpartisan group to further their political objectives, especially at the local level.

If you’d be interested in learning more about this group, you can visit their website or email their chairman at dutchjennings@protonmail.com.

Corruption in Frederick County

A photo of a portion of the crowd
A photo of a portion of the crowd

On Tuesday, August 30th, the Frederick County Republican Party gathered for their monthly meeting.  The room was packed with about 100 people, including Delegate Chris Collins (R-29), Delegate Dave LaRock (R-33), former Delegate Mark Berg (R-29) and John Whitbeck, the chairman of the Republican Party of Virginia.  There was also a fellow clad in a Barbara Comstock shirt holding some of her bumper stickers, most likely a campaign staffer. This was the first meeting of the Frederick County GOP since the Republican State Central Committee upheld the decision of the 10th district GOP to expel Mark Berg and nine other members of the Frederick County GOP from the Republican Party and ban them from Republican functions for the next four years, which presumably also stripped Dr. Berg of his chairmanship of the Frederick County GOP.  Given that development, one would assume that this meeting would likely be quite interesting.

Outside the meeting room there were two tables, one for guests to sign in and another for county party members.  There was also a poster which contained a curious message stating that Frederick County was not Russia.

IMG_3171Inside, there were a variety of additional posters including a supposed quote from 10th district GOP Chairwoman Jo Thoburn denouncing due process and the 1st Amendment, and another declaring that Article I of the RPV Party Plan was unconstitutional.

Shortly after 7 PM, a woman (I’m told it was Rose Focht, the vice-chair of the group), declared that the meeting was likely to be very contentious and therefore announced that a neutral party, Bill Card from Prince William County, would serve as chair for the meeting.  However, as far as I observed, her decision was neither voted upon nor ratified by the membership.  After the opening prayer and pledge of allegiance (offered by Delegate LaRock), the meeting got underway.  It was announced that there were 63 members of the Frederick County GOP present along with 34 guests.

Temporary Chair Bill Card with RPV Chairman John Whitbeck
Temporary Chair Bill Card with RPV Chairman John Whitbeck before the start of the meeting

The chair then declared that the group would vote on a slate of new members to the committee.  There were some murmurs from the crowd that the chair had changed the order of the agenda of the meeting as the addition of new members was supposed to be scheduled for the end of the meeting.  In addition, no one presented a list of these possible members either in writing or verbally.  One member objected, declaring that she wanted to know more about these potential new additions, but the chair ruled her out of order.  Then, one of the applicant new members agreed that they should be introduced, but he was ignored by the chair.  In the voice vote that followed to add these new members, it sounded to me as if the nays were more plentiful. Curiously, as some guests were scattered among the membership, it was impossible to tell if any of the guests had voted in the voice vote.  For example, although a visitor from Harrisonburg, I could have easily added my vote to the total and no one likely would have been the wiser.   Nevertheless, the chair ruled that they ayes had won and disregarded several protests from the audience.

What was even more surprising was that the temporary chairman then called for the meeting to be adjourned without any further business.  Many folks seemed stunned by the voice vote that followed, but the chair again declared that the ayes had carried the motion and thus the meeting was over only about 10 minutes or so after it had begun.  One exasperated member shouted about fascism.

Afterward, people shuffled out.  An older woman left while wiping tears from her eyes.  8 or so people, including Mark Berg, gathered in a circle for a prayer outside the room.

Inquiring into the matter further I talked with several of the members of the FCRC.  I was told that these new members were added to the committee so that one faction would now have sufficient numbers to purge the group of anyone deemed a troublemaker or those who did not support the new leadership.

I spoke with one woman who recorded the meeting and, if I am able to get a copy, will share it as well.

I have to say that although I’ve been going to political gatherings for 21 years now, I cannot recall a meeting so short, or one that was able to ram through their business in such an blatantly corrupt fashion.  One does wonder what sort of fallout will come to the Frederick County Republican Party and the Republican Party of Virginia for allowing these shenanigans to transpire.