Category Archives: Aaron Gulbransen

Aaron Gulbransen has some Tough Words for Va GOP Chairman John Whitbeck

by Aaron Gulbransen

I’ll be honest, other than being ticked off when I heard that John Whitbeck tried to fire Cathy Bolden and Frank Loehr, the most genuine and competent people that have ever worked at RPV, I didn’t really pay close attention to Whitbeck’s tenure as RPV Chairman until fairly recently. When I started paying attention, I found that the practice of allowing non-Virginia trained Victory staffers to come into the Commonwealth was going on without protest from either the interim Chairman Whitbeck or the ED, John Findlay. I got in trouble for saying this in 2014 but I’ll say it again. We need Virginians in charge of the Victory Program. We need people who understand Virginia, not DC or New Jersey or Connecticut. Kudos to then RPV Executive Director Shaun Kenney for telling the RNC to pound sand and hire Virginia people. Of course, Whitbeck lied about that too and kicked another competent person out the door at RPV. So while I didn’t know Whitbeck, I didn’t have a favorable view of these actions from a Party competency standpoint.

Another situation while at the time was not much more than an interesting conversation topic on my radar, I witnessed the saga of the convention/primary debacle where Whitbeck voted for a primary when he was elected as the pro-convention candidate. John Whitbeck lied to the people who elected him. He lied about voting for conventions and then facilitated a primary. He broke his promises to his electorate and then demanded his leadership be unquestioned. Whether or not you favor primaries over conventions, the fact that Whitbeck lied is what should concern you. A leader who breaks his promises is not a leader at all but a schemer seeking to hold on to power. I’ve written about the subject before so you know I mean what I say when I tell you our leaders should be honest and that’s what matters. Truth matters.

Another thing that bothered me was when I was made aware of a threatening email that ED Findlay had sent to another blogger, basically telling that blogger that if he ever criticized Whitbeck again, then he’d (Findlay) ruin his political career. That’s just rank unprofessionalism.

So when I wrote the first postings about the 7th District situation, I decided I needed to delve further into the Whitbeck den. He had my full attention. At the time a Haley candidacy was not something on the radar. My impression was that an RPV Chairman was engaging in secretive activities and needed to at least answer why he was doing what he was doing. He didn’t, instead he obfuscated and lied again. These questions remain unanswered. These are not Establishment vs. Conservative Fellowship questions either, these are good Party government and ff his convictions tell him that he must interfere with Party and other elections in the 2nd, 4th, 5th, 7th, 10th, and 11th districts, then he needs to stand up and say so rather than continuing to lie. While we would still disagree with interim Chairman Whitbeck and hold our belief that he needs to be replaced as Chairman, we’d at least be able to respect him as a person, while wrong, was doing what he thought was right.

When I spoke with Whitbeck and asked straightforward questions of him, even gave him advice on the right course of action to make, he talked around in circles and made it clear to me that he was going to do or say anything he needed to do to retain power. The same would be said about my supposedly off the record conversation with Findlay that he broke the nature of and proceeded to call people and threaten them as a result. For the record, these are people who are both considered establishment and non-establishment. I would say that Whitbeck and Findlay are an establishment unto themselves.

When I wrote the very first piece about the situation, I was flooded with emails, calls, and texts about the activities going on throughout all corners of the Commonwealth. I was told that Whitbeck and/or Findlay had called people and lobbied, threatened, and otherwise cajoled them in an effort to try to get them to either support their chosen candidates or drop their support of the disfavored candidates for Party offices. That is not the work of supposed neutral arbiters it was the work of people seeking to create their own power base. What would one do with that power base? It’s not a stretch to think that they’d work with national power brokers in DC to try to put Paul Ryan or another non candidate for the Presidency in as the Republican nominee in a multi-ballot convention. It’s also not a stretch to think that Whitbeck is working to make next year’s nomination process a primary, which would also be another broken promise.

Whitbeck sent out an email describing the RPV financial situation while also promoting his candidacy for Chairman. That is also a lie. He promised the people who elected him that he’d raise $100,000 on his own and didn’t. Whitbeck has driven the Party further into debt. Whitbeck promised the Party that he’d raise $180K on The Advance instead it was $80K. He was supposed to raise $100K  on the Pat Mullins sendoff and it made $15K. He promised to raise $250K for the Rick Perry event, it raised $55K. Also, he wants you to pay no mind to the fact that RPV still hasn’t paid off last year’s Advance. We’ve got a Chairman who comes nowhere near keeping any of his promises.

Also consider why a Chairman would hire a driver with Party funds instead of hiring a political director, as John Whitbeck has done. Why? Just why? You were promised honesty, professionalism, and principle. Instead you got lies, amateurism, and power grabs. Now Lucy has the football and wants it again for four more years. In the same manner that our country cannot afford four years of Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders, can RPV afford four more years of this kind of behavior? The answer is no, we cannot. Whitbeck must go. We cannot stand for any of this any more.

Enter Vince Haley, a good honorable, and competent human being. When word got out that Vince was getting ready to get back in the race, Findlay started issuing directives to both the rules and nominations committees, in clear violation of the Party Plan and the convention call. One of those directives included an admission that Findlay had simply thrown Vince’s form out. That’s the actions of a neutral arbiter. Make no mistake here, Findlay is not only the RPV Executive Director hired by John Whitbeck, he is also John Whitbeck’s campaign manager.

There’s been some talk about the recent unbinding proposal by the State Convention Nominations Committee that Vince Haley is not a candidate for Chairman. It is merely a proposal at this point, something that could be changed yet again the next time they have a conference call. Maybe next time they’ll discuss these issues with all members present.

These mere committee opinions/proposals have nothing to do with the process, just stopping a duly filed candidate from offering Republicans a choice. Whitbeck is afraid of a fair and open contest and wouldn’t be using RPV resources to achieve his standing aims in all corners of the Commonwealth, not just this Chairman’s election, if he wasn’t. Whitbeck and Findlay they know they have lost the faith of the Party and will lose in a fair process. That is why they want to disenfranchise your vote.

By directing both the rules committee and now the nominations committee to issue certain proposals it is clear that:
(1) Whitbeck and Findlay have a conflict and shouldn’t use the resources of the Party to campaign (see State Party Plan, Art. VII, Section I) and
(2) these tactics that rely on inappropriate rules simply deny the delegates the right to choose their Chairman.

Vince Haley properly filed to be a candidate for the position of Chairman of the Republican Party of Virginia and no behind the scenes Soviet style tactics by either of the John Findlay or John Whitbeck controlled committees can change that fact. Vince IS a candidate for RPV Chair and that is up to the sovereignty of the convention, not some hastily convened John Findlay orchestrated conference call that did not even contain all of its members present. These opinions have about as much credibility as do certain “penumbras and emanations” in the Constitution. We all know what those penumbras led to.

The sky is blue no matter who tells you the sky is green. Whitbeck is a bad Chairman and Vince Haley is a candidate for Chair. You should go to the State Convention at the end of the month and demand your voice be heard. If Vince Haley is not a candidate, then why is John Whitbeck running radio ads promoting his own candidacy for Chairman?

Article written by: Tom White