Categorized | News, Opinion

Does RPV General Council Opinion Prevent Speaker Howell and Others from Running as Republicans?

Pat McSweeney, the Republican Party of Virginia General Counsel was asked to issue his opinion on a pair of situations that occurred within the Republican Party during recent election cycles.

Now in order to understand the situation, you need to know about the Republican Party’s obsession with party loyalty and their loyalty oaths. Woven throughout the Republican Party Plan and engraved in psyche of the party protectionists is this irrational demand for loyalty under threat of banishment from the Party. Having seen it first hand it is a palpable paranoia on the part of the establishment, perhaps because many of the Republicans Candidates are so hard to support by people who believe in the Republican Creed. Interestingly, the Democratic Party Plan does not have such paranoid requirements, but a person may be removed for “willful neglect of duty” whatever that may be. But there are no loyalty demands spelled out like the GOP.

And of course, this fealty obsession is intended to keep the establishment Republicans in office and is used as a hammer to prevent “defections” from establishment candidates.

But an event in 2011 saw the establishment Republicans defiantly ignore their own loyalty oaths when Republican Delegate Bill Janis resigned his General Assembly seat to run as an Independent in the Henrico Commonwealth Attorney race. The Washington Post reported at the time:

Janis, who had been serving as the Republican whip in the House of Delegates, announced in August that he would not seek reelection.

Instead, he is is taking on the embattled Republican candidate for commonwealth’s attorney in Henrico County, Matthew Geary, whom party leaders abandoned after he admitted to an extramarital affair.

The Republicans were running a nominee who had done some things that were not known at the time of the nomination, but came out during the race. Party leaders were unable to convince the nominee to step aside, so Janis stepped up and did what needed to be done. Anyone that knows the details of this situation completely understood and agreed with the decision by Janis to run as an Independent, which was the only way to challenge the Republican nominee. (I am not going into details of the tragic events after this election. If you don’t know, Google is the best answer for you.)

But no matter how righteous the decision, there are still the Republican Party Rules. And from a personal point of view, it was these rules and these rules alone that prevented me from personally endorsing Bill Janis. He and I have been friends for several years and I respect him and know him to be a good man. And despite the results of the election, he made the right decision in my opinion.

But there was fallout. And there continues to be fallout.

Janis received an enormous amount of support in his bid to win the election. The entire Republican establishment with few exceptions endorsed and supported Janis without apology and without hesitation. And with complete disregard for the Republican Party Plan. And the list of violators is long:

These Virginia Republican Leaders Endorse Bill Janis for Henrico Commonwealth’s Attorney

  • Congressman Eric Cantor
  • Lt. Governor Bill Bolling
  • Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli
  • Senator Walter Stosch
  • Delegate Jimmie Massie
  • Delegate John O’Bannon
  • Delegate Manoli Loupassi
  • Delegate Chris Peace
  • Delegate Rob Bell
  • Brookland District Supervisor Dick Glover
  • Three Chopt District Supervisor David Kaechele
  • Tuckahoe District Supervisor Patricia O’Bannon
  • School Board Member Lisa Marshall
  • School Board Member Diana Winston
  • Henrico Clerk of the Circuit Court Yvonne Smith
  • Henrico Sheriff Mike Wade
  • Henrico Commonwealth’s Attorney Wade Kizer
  • Former Congressman Tom Bliley
  • Former Lt. Governor John Hager
  • Former Virginia Attorney General Richard Cullen
  • Former Delegate Jack Reid
  • Former Henrico Commonwealth’s Attorney Toby Vick

And in addition, the list of donors from VPAP is even longer:

$41,851 Cantor for US House of Representatives – Eric
$41,323 Loupassi for Delegate – Manoli
$24,605 Janis for Delegate – Bill
$17,000 Garrett for Senate – Tom
$10,000 Massie for Delegate – Jimmie
$8,500     O’Bannon for Delegate – John
$5,000     Bell for Delegate – Rob
$4,472     Kizer for Commonwealths Attorney – Wade
$3,500     Farrell for Delegate – Peter
$2,000     Wade for Henrico Sheriff – Michael
$1,500     Albo for Delegate – David
$1,000     Habeeb For Delegate – Greg
$1,000     Ware for Delegate – Lee
$1,000     Cox for Delegate – Kirk
$1,000     Gilmore, James S III
$1,000     Miller for Delegate – Jackson
$1,000     Athey for Delegate – Clifford
$1,000     Friends of Smith – Yvonne
$700     Gilbert for Delegate – Todd
$600     O’Bannon, Pat
$500     Hurt for US House of Representatives – Robert
$500     Robinson, Roxann
$500     Comstock for Delegate – Barbara
$500     Stolle for Delegate – Christopher
$500     Marshall for Delegate – Danny
$500     Bailie, Robert W
$500     Anderson for Delegate – Richard
$500     Knight for Delegate – Barry D
$500     Iaquinto for Delegate – Sal
$300     Joannou for Delegate – Johnny
$300     Fiorelli for School Board of Henrico County – Jim
$250     Kaechele for Henrico County Board of Supervisors – David
$250     Friends of Durkin
$250     Marcus, M Boyd Jr

$250     Howell, Bill

So what is the punishment for violating the RPV Party Plan loyalty demands?

Well, first and foremost, every name on these two lists was considered to have resigned from their home Committee by virtue of their endorsement or financial donations. The Washington Post wrote:

U.S. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R) has been removed from his local Republican committee in Virginia.

So have state officials Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling and House Speaker Bill Howell from theirs.

Every Republican who endorsed Del. Bill Janis, the Republican turned independent who is running for the post of commonwealth’s attorney in Henrico County next month, is out.

The Republican Party of Virginia’s party plan says any Republican who supports a non-Republican in a contested race will be automatically removed from the rolls of his or her local committee, according to the state party’s executive director, Dave Rexrode.

They can be voted back in with a simple majority by their local committee, but for many that is not likely to happen until after the Nov. 8 elections.

And indeed most were voted back in to their committees.

But there is also an additional punishment for violating the Party Loyalty requirements. While reentry onto the ranks of Committee membership is easily accomplished by a majority vote and the errant member can resume his activities with the Committee, they are no longer allowed to participate in the Party Actions for a period of 4 years.

Below is the applicable section of the RPV Party Plan:

Participation in Party Actions
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)

The underlined sections (added by me) are the important parts. There appears to be no restrictions on the miscreant if the Committee votes him back in as far as Committee related actions are concerned. The exception and continuing punishment has to do with the nomination process. After all, the original sin was failing to support the Party nominee. So for the next 4 years, while you may participate in the Committee, you are barred from “mass meetings, party canvasses, conventions, or primaries encompassing their respective election districts”.

So, while I am not an attorney, I can read the rules. So anyone who has been named above may participate in their Committee, but may not participate in the nomination process. And there is no exception for participation as a candidate. It should be noted that paragraph 4 allows for additional punishment if one participated in the nomination process of another party, which was not the case here. And paragraph 5 states that one who violates paragraph 4 by participating in the nomination process of another party may renounce the other party one time to avoid the 5 year banishment. However, 4 and 5 are not relevant here.

In his opinion published on 1/21/2015, Pat McSweeney the General Counsel for the Republican Party wrote:

Article I, Section A should be read as a whole. The purpose and intent of that section are to limit participation in Republican Party nominating events – whether convention, canvass, mass meeting or primary – to those who adhere to Republican principles. The effect is the prevention of the practice of “raiding” Republican nominating events by members of an opposition party, as well as by those who are not members of a political party, but who do not share Republican principles or who have supported a candidate or candidates in opposition to a Republican candidate or candidates.

[Stuff about non-Republican nominating participation deleted. use the link above for the entire opinion text.]

The nominee of a political organization that does not satisfy the requirements of the statutory definition of “political party” nevertheless can run for election in opposition to the nominee of the Republican Party if the former nominee obtains the requisite number of petition signatures. Such a candidate would run for office in opposition to a Republican candidate in the same way that the Democratic Party candidate would be in opposition to the Republican candidate.Based on the foregoing analysis, it is my conclusion that an individual who has participated in the nominating process of the Independent Conservatives of Campbell County within the last five years is prohibited from participation in the nominating process of the Republican Party of Virginia and any of its districts and units.

It is further my conclusion that an individual who has participated in the nominating process conducted by the Independent Conservatives of Campbell County has “publicly support[ed] a candidate in opposition to a Republican nominee” for purposes of Article I, Section A(2). Therefore, that individual is prohibited from participating in any actions of the Republican Party of Virginia and its districts and units for a period of four years.

And in an opinion published on 1/18/2015, McSweeney wrote:

“Individual # 1– This person has personally posted on their Facebook page and other public venues encouraging their organization’s members to write in a candidate for the U.S. Senate other than our Republican nominee.”

As to the first situation, I conclude that Article I, Section A(2) prohibits an individual from participating in Republican nominating events for four years if he or she posts a Facebook comment in support of a candidate who is an opponent of a Republican candidate. For purposes of this provision of the State Party Plan, such a posting constitutes “public support of a candidate in opposition to a Republican candidate.” What you have described is plainly the type of activity that this provision was intended to cover.

These loyalty rules are frequently used to exclude Conservatives from the nominating process. A number of potential delegates to the 7th District Convention last year were not allowed to participate in the process due to these rules. One, Floyd Bayne of Chesterfield was denied admittance as a delegate because he ran as an Independent against Eric Cantor in 2010, within the 4 year punishment window.

So do the rules apply to everyone or just the people like Floyd Bayne that mounted an Independent campaign that was not “sanctioned” by the power brokers in the Republican Party.

Should the people named above be held to the same standard as Bayne? Or do they get to break the rules because they wrote them?

And how ironic would it be if the people who broke the rules in 2011 were forced to live by the same rules? And what if individuals like Speaker Howell were barred from participating in the Republican Primary?

And if the rules are enforced equally, there is still time for untainted challengers to file as Republicans.

And if the rules were enforced equally, anyone who donates to people like Howell would be banned from the nominating process for the next 4 years, likely leaving the election kitty pretty empty.

So the question for the Republican Party of Virginia is “Are you going to enforce the rules you have so judiciously applied to the “little people” or do you hold yourself above your own rules”?

Based on past history, I already know the answer.

There is some question as to when this 4 year punishment went into effect and if it applies to the 2011 races. The revisions don’t appear to be available online for reference. So if this was changed subsequent to 2011, then was Floyd Bayne improperly banned from the 7th District Convention by the Chesterfield Committee because he ran against Cantor in 2010? Are rules retroactive (if the ban was added after 2011) for some and not for others? Bayne was supporting Fred Gruber publicly and the Chairman of the Chesterfield Committee was not.

About Tom White

Tom is a US Navy Veteran, owns an Insurance Agency and is currently an IT Manager for a Virginia Distributor. He has been published in American Thinker, currently writes for the Richmond Examiner as well as Virginia Right! Blog. Tom lives in Hanover County, Va and is involved in politics at every level and is a Recovering Republican who has finally had enough of the War on Conservatives in progress with the Leadership of the GOP on a National Level.

26 Responses to “Does RPV General Council Opinion Prevent Speaker Howell and Others from Running as Republicans?”

  1. Steve Albertson


    The 4-year ban was added to the Plan by an amendment in 2013. Prior to that, support of a candidate opposing a Republican nominee meant a person was deemed to have resigned his membership (which could then be reinstated).

    As a separate General Counsel opinion makes clear, the 4-year ban is not retroactive in its operations. Thus, it does not apply to the support lent Bill Janis by a number of Republicans in 2011.


    • Tom White says:

      Well, they did apply it to Floyd Bayne last year.

      • Steve Albertson

        Not sure who “they” is, or what the circumstances were involving Mr. Bayne, but I am telling you from the perspective of a State Central Committee member who closely follows the Plan and developments with the General Counsel that this amendment does not reach conduct that took place prior to its passage.

  2. Craig Orndorff

    Can you point us to this other opinion, Steve? It seems
    Pretty clear McSweeney is of the opinion that folks are banned for violating a pledge signed for the November 2013 election in May of that year-about seven months before the amendment was passed.

  3. Steve Albertson


    I don’t think McSweeney’s opinion that is referenced here touches on the timing of the offending action, only the generic operation of the relevant provision.In another General Counsel opinion found at the link below, the GC makes clear that the provision’s reach is not retroactive:

    “On December 7, 2013, the State Central Committee amended the Plan by adding Paragraph 2, which reads, ‘[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 action … for a period of four (4) years.’ This provision can only be applied to voters who made statements of intent after the adoption of the amendment on December 7, 2013.”

    You can enter this text into your browser to see the opinion:

  4. Craig Orndorff

    He seems to pretty clearly reference people who were involved in ICC proceedings, which from what I heard all took place before the amendment passed. But I will grant you he’s pretty clear it’s not retroactive in the other ruling. So color me confused.

  5. Robert Shannon

    6 years of observing the machinations of the establishment might lead one previously stone cold sober to take up drinking. The hypocrisy and dearth of any intellectual honesty is sickening. The party facilitates the nomination of crony capitalist stooges of K street, pawns of developers who simply want to manipulate the levers of government to serve their own self serving purposes, or who can raise the most money, as if that is somehow relevant after what we witnessed in last years thorough ass kicking Cantor caught.

    The Patriot movement was/is/has been responsible for most if not all of any success republicans have enjoyed in the last 3-4 election cycles.

    It does however remind me of the old story of the child who fails to recognize it’s own strength. The Patriot movement literally drove Eric Cantor from office, anyone failing to recognize and concede that point is either intellectually dishonest or fails to have any understanding of the movements real underlying strength. Had the republican had a nominee in any of the races they have lost, including the Presidential race of 2012, that reflected core conservative principles, rallying for smaller government, specific spending cuts, the movements forces would have been energized and turned out record numbers, instead of the 4 million fewer voters reported to have stayed home. Hard to get energized by the likes of Romney , and the evidence of such should be crystal clear to anyone watching.

    Reforming the republican party with half measures won’t work, and only the most die hard republican apologists fail to recognize that. Unfortunately it is these very same fools who still make up much of the Patriot movements leadership.

    If leadership within the Patriot movement could mobilize their supporters , in mass to pledge to sit on their hands or write in a candidate at election time, and have the vision , will and determination to make their supporters band together in this strategy, the republican party would cease allowing their own progressive , crony capitalist politicians to ever get to the nomination, knowing they will go down in a inglorious defeat because of this block of voters that just won’t hold their noses and abide by a “pledge” that has become national suicide.

    Until then the apologist are either cowered or stupid, take your pick. They fall in line like village idiots and run our voting R, because they regretfully still don’t understand the difference between winning and progress. They ignore the broken promises after 2010, the abysmal failure of the McDonnell administration, even the more recent republican cave in, kicking the spending appropriation can to September 2015

    Maybe their is someone out there in the Patriot movement with the vision and leadership skills that might just still pull this off. Until that time comes we pacify ourselves with these mildly entertaining side shows.

    Bob Shannon


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Tom White Says:

Nothing is more conservative than a republican wanting to get their majority back. And nothing is more liberal than a republican WITH a majority.

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