JEFFREY FOR DELEGATE ‘09
M E M O R A N D U M
TO: Richard (Dick) Cranwell,
Chairman, Virginia Democratic Party
RE: Primary Filing Process Concerns
On Friday, April 10, 2009 at 5:00p My campaign Manager, Mark D. Powell and I met Tony Reed, City Democratic Chair and Donald Caldwell (who has publicly endorsed Onzlee Ware) in the lobby of the Noel C. Taylor Municipal Building. Also there was Evelyn Powers, City Treasurer and Sherman Holland, Commissioner of the Revenue (both of whom have publicly endorsed Onzlee Ware). We were there to deliver final filing documents (petitions) to Mr. Reed. We had delivered all of the other documents and the bulk of our petitions to Mr. Reed on March 24 (at 12:05 noon), which was, of course the first filing date.
We also made an official request in writing to see the filing papers and petitions of Onzlee Ware in accordance with the City Democratic Committee By-Laws, which states the following:
Any declaration of candidacy, which substantially complies with the form provided in the election laws of Virginia relating to primary elections, shall be sufficient for all Democratic primary elections. Delivery of properly signed and attested declarations of candidacy, petitions properly executed when required by law, and receipts for legal filing fees, to the properly City Committee Chair or successor of the Chair, in person, within the time prescribed by law, shall be valid filing regardless of the person by whom or the method by which such delivery is accomplished, and all such candidacy documents shall be open to inspection and challenge by any candidate or member of the City Committee having jurisdiction over such primary election.
We were both surprised and concerned about the response we received to our request by both Mr. Reed and Mr. Caldwell. Both Mr. Reed and Mr. Caldwell behaved unprofessionally and were blatantly threatening in their tone and comments. They repeatedly used comments that seemed to suggest that our request was inappropriate, offensive and inconvenient. They repeatedly stated that we were not going to have the access to the filing information anytime soon. In fact initially Mr. Reed said that we would not be able see the documents before Tuesday. He later said, “…that he would call us the next day (Saturday).
We were clear and insistent that the committee’s by-laws gave us the right to request and see those documents immediately. Admittedly, the by-laws do not specify a timeframe within which the Chair had to produce the documents. However, after any objective reading of the article one would easily and rightfully conclude that inherent in the article is the intent to preserve fairness and integrity of the process. The article also is seeking to insure that no one candidate, including the incumbent would benefit from preferential treatment with respect to established deadlines.
Though we were well within our rights Mr. Reed and Mr. Caldwell, assisted by Ms. Powers were hostile, insulting and emphatic that we were not going to see the documents that day. In fact, Mr. Reed, who as Chair had the responsibility to produce the documents made it clear that “…he had plans and people at his house and was not going to change those plans to address our request.”
After about thirty minutes of contentious engagement, most of that time with Mr. Reed and Mr. Caldwell at different times verbally assaulting and in one of their case physically threatening my campaign manager, Mr. Reed reiterated that he would call me tomorrow about seeing the documents.
Our concern as we attempted to explain to them was and still is that if for some reason Mr. Reed did not have the requested documents—even in another location, but in his possession then obviously that would create a problem for the incumbent. And since we had three persons publicly committed to the incumbent’s re-election and another who at least on one occasion gave us cause for concern that his objectivity may be compromised we were in no mood to yield our rights and to allow twenty-four or more hours to pass before our request was granted. However, we clearly had no choice but to leave without viewing the documents when Mr. Reed walked out and got in his car to leave.
We do not know whether Mr. Reed had received Mr. Ware’s documents or not. Mr. Reed made a point of saying that if we had let him know before the meeting he could’ve brought the document with him. The by-laws did not require us to notify Mr. Reed ahead of meeting him. And when he found out did not prevent him from taking us to the documents, which we also requested that he do. We also suggested that Mr. Reed could call on the Vice Chair or the Secretary of the committee to oversee our review of the documents. Mr. Reed flatly and twice refused, insisting that he alone would be reviewing the documents and determining the outcomes of that review. This generated even further concern in that it appears that there were no checks and balances in this process and that those responsible for overseeing the process were okay with that.
The process in our view has been seriously compromised and its credibility challenged.
Four hours later at 9:07 p.m. I received a call from Mr. Reed inviting me to meet him to review the requested documents. After we agreed on the place I hung up and proceeded to that location. I also notified my campaign manager Mark and he met me at Books A Million (Crossroads).
Mr. Reed showed up at about 10:00p.m. 5 hours after our request. He was combative, harassing, threatening and unprofessional. He at one point invited Mark “outside”, clearly threatening physical violence. Mr. Reed then insisted that I had only 10 minutes to review the documents, he refused to arrange for copies of the documents to be made and he seemed to repeatedly indicate that he had decided that he would now be actively working to undermine our campaign.
While Mr. Reed allowed a longer than 10 minute review of the documents we still did not have the time necessary to conduct the kind of review indicated in the by-laws. For example, we did not have time to check the signatures against our copy of the current state voter list. Mr. Reed’s behavior as well as that of Mr. Caldwell has jeopardized the integrity of this process and we do not believe that we can trust their ability to objectively conduct the requisite duties related to confirming registered voters and verifying qualifications of Onzlee Ware and myself. Any decision by Mr. Reed would be highly suspect and would cast a dark cloud over the City Democratic Party.
Therefore our campaign is formerly requesting that you intervene officially as the State Chairman. Also that you appoint immediately a surrogate who would be responsible for reviewing and confirming the qualifications of both campaigns of Onzlee Ware and myself. And that that person be someone both campaigns agree on. One other option would be to require Mr. Reed to conduct a public counting of the signatures on both campaign’s petitions in the presence of representatives from both campaigns. As you know, time is of the essence. An immediate response from you in this matter would be appropriate and appreciated.
Posted By Valerie Garner
Categories: Election 2009, Politics, State Politics
Tags: democrat, election2009, house_of_delegates, Onzlee_Ware