By Lynn R. Mitchell
On Saturday, January 24, 2015, the Virginia Republican State Central Committee took a secret vote to remove 5th Congressional District Chairman Jon Berkley for being a “non-functioning” chairman despite the fact the vote was an illegal maneuver and not in compliance with the Party Plan.
Interestingly, Berkley had the support of most in leadership in the 5th District but their requests for him to remain were overruled by those from outside the District. (That sounds very much like an overreaching federal government.)
Chairman Berkley has served for less than a year. During that tumultuous time when he has continually been challenged and undermined by those who lost the election that put him in the position, he took a District with $45 in its account and over $800 in outstanding bills and, by holding fundraisers and working steadily the past nine months, now has $10,000 in the District’s checking account. But that’s not all he has accomplished. In a post on Facebook, he noted his District also gave Congressman Robert Hurt over 60% of the vote for the first time ever and had more polls manned than any District in the state.
It is interesting the first point of business for newly-appointed State Chairman John Whitbeck was the illegal removal of a district chair and, even though he was shown the error in the maneuvering, he refused to correct the issue. This occurred immediately after 1st Congressional District Chairman Eric Herr declared on Facebook that he promised to form a third party is either Jeb Bush or Mitt Romney won the 2016 Republican nomination for president (see Herr threatens to form 3rd party if Jeb or Mitt get 2016 nod).
The following endorsements are from 5th Congressional District leadership. For more background about this issue, see RPV in Crisis: How is a chairman ‘non-functioning’ when he raises $10,000 for a bankrupt unit? and Doom for Virginia Republicans by Bill Wheaton.
1) Chairman and Members of the RPV State Central Committee:
We, duly elected members of the Fifth District Republican Committee, affirm our support of Chairman Jon Berkley. We understand that the RPV State Central Committee may entertain removal of Chairman Berkley in its January 24 meeting. In light of Chairman Berkley’s principled leadership, grace under fire, and commitment to our party and its objectives, we find it wholly unacceptable that his removal is even under consideration. In the interest of the Fifth District Committee, we respectfully request that the State Central Committee allow Chairman Berkley to continue serving our committee.
Members of the Fifth District Republican Committee
Bill Harvill, Vice Chairman, Zone 1
Korey Snead, Vice Chairman, Zone 2
Gene Smith, Vice Chairman, Zone 3
Tinker Burkhardt, Treasurer
Sandra Warren, Secretary
Clara Belle Wheeler, Representative, State Central Committee
Peggy Armentrout, Chairman, Charlotte County Republican Committee
Betsy Young, Chairman, Danville Republican Committee
Pat Barksdale, Chairman, Halifax County Republican Committee
W.C. Fowlkes, Chairman, Henry County Republican Committee
Wallace Hudson, Chairman, Mecklenburg County Republican Committee
Lynn Tucker, Chairman, Pittsylvania Republican Committee
James McClure, Representative, College Republican Federation
2) Madison County leadership also endorsed:
We are honored to add our names! The 5th District under Jon’s leadership has flourished and is on path to be a UNIFIED Republican Conservative District in spite of a few individuals who have no desire to be unified. Please take the time to actually look at the unfounded allegations and dismiss them all with prejudice.
William E (Bill) Harvill Jr, Chairman
John Tucker, Vice Chairman
Robert T Eddins, Secretary
James R Gaines, Treasurer
Madison County Republican Committee
3) From the Secretary of the 5th Congressional District Committee:
January 23, 2015
TO: State Central Committee
FROM: Sandra Warren
Secretary – 5th District Committee
Dear State Central Committee,
I am aware of the meeting scheduled for Saturday, January 24, 2015. I am also aware of one of the items on the agenda in regard to Jon Berkley, Chairman of the 5th District.
I am a former Chairman in Danville and currently Vice Chairman of the Danville Committee. I am also Secretary of the 5th District Committee. I have attended many 5th District meetings as Chairman and as a proxy for our Chairman, Betsy Young. I ran for the Secretary position (twice I might add within a two month period) last year. Because of a few people in this committee that are continuously trying to attain power and not for the best interest of the committee, I have done all I can to help make sure we have the best people serving our district. I feel, without hesitation, that Jon Berkley is doing everything possible AND within the State Party Plan to make this district a successful district and only has our Republican candidates’ best interest in mind. He tirelessly works within the district to help units and candidates achieve the Republican goals. We had a most successful fundraiser for the district in which Jon followed through and never dropped the ball. A first, I might add, since I have been involved.
Unfortunately, I have observed a few people within the district and at 5th District meetings try to sabotage the meetings. It is almost like watching a jack-in-the-box jump up and down protesting everything. At the last meeting, one such person was asked at least 3 times to state her “point of order” and she only wanted to argue with the Chairman. Upon final warning, she was told to leave the meeting and was escorted to the door. The meeting ran smoothly after that incident and business was conducted. No one can conduct a proper meeting with someone acting like that. The turmoil has been there since Jon was DULY elected Chairman at the 5th District Convention. Because the other candidate did not win, there are some who strive to destroy the meetings AND Jon and disrupt the entire 5th District Committee. Do what is right and leave Jon Berkley in his duly elected position.
4) From Franklin County Republican Committee Chairman:
To our State Central Committee members,
I hope your Christmas season has been wonderful as well as the New Year. I would like to introduce myself; I am Brian Hamilton the Franklin County Republican party Chairmen. Saturday the 24th you have a vote coming up concerning the leadership (John Berkley) direction of the 5th district. I ask respectfully that you vote not to remove Mr. Berkley from office.
From what I have seen so far, Mr. Berkley hasn’t warranted a removal from office. I also understand that many within the 5th district want his removal. It is my opinion elections are won and lost at polls or mass meetings not via committee meetings. I feel like this vote would be an overreach of the State Central Committee to remove Mr. Berkley from office. I disagreed with the vote of the removal of the Campbell County chairmen in December of 2014. The vote came down to 17 – 15 for the removal of the Campbell County Chairmen and I voted with the 15.
Elections for office are always tough. In elections we have winners and losers. We must be gracious winners as well as gracious losers and live to fight another day. I ask that we focus on expanding control over the State Senate and beating back Governor McAuliffe agenda not beating ourselves.
Brian C. Hamilton
Franklin County Republican Party Chairman
5) From Henry County Republican Committee Chairman:
To whom it may concern:
I am in full concurrence with and in full support of Jon Berkley continuing as the Fifth (5th) District Chairman. Jon has fought to correct many issues that had gotten out of hand and should have been cleared up long ago, and now his integrity is being questioned and this is wrong. No one is perfect and those who are not in agreement of the job he is doing. They should have been adult enough and professional enough to address these issues long ago, rather than to now work behind the scenes in a very underhanded and unprofessional manner.
We need to work together and try and bring this District and State Government back in the “red” category again. But instead with this type of approach, we are sadly going the other way, and we will be losing many of our good leaders and potential leaders going forward, as a result!
I hope there will be some serious thought, discussion and review, before you “jump to conclusions”, as our results in VA over the past 3 years have not been impressive and a continuum of decisions like we have had will simply lead to more and more dissatisfaction in the ranks! When I say the “ranks” that is what I mean as we are the ones who deal with the people and we have a much better feel for what is going on, and what you are doing, and we are not even given a voice!
W. C. Fowlkes, Chairman
Henry County Republican Chairman
6) From the Mecklenburg County Republican Committee Chairman:
January 23, 2015
To the State Central Committee of the Commonwealth of Virginia:
I wholeheartedly endorse and support Jon Berkley to remain as Chairman of the 5th Congressional District Committee of the Republican Party of Virginia.
Jon has brought leadership and integrity to the 5th District Committee that was badly needed at the time of his election. He has served in the position of District Chairman during a time of internal turmoil brought on by those more interested in power than they are interested in winning elections for the Republican Party in the Commonwealth of Virginia.
Jon has worked hard for the 5th since becoming Chairman, and has proved to be a man of his word, a leader who promotes and supports his county chairs, and a person that works hard for the ideals and goals that make us all proud to call ourselves Republicans. He does not shy away from work or controversy and faces head on the challenges that present themselves as detrimental to the continuity and cohesiveness of the 5th District Committee.
Jon is a leader-not a puppet. You as the State Central Committee should decide whether you want some political hack in the job, or if you want someone to help lead us to success by winning elections in this state again.
Thank you and I hope you take the correct action by leaving Jon in his position as Chairman of the 5th.
R. Wallace “Wally” Hudson
Chairman, Mecklenburg County Republican Committee