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The 10th District Debacle

By Greg L | 12 April 2012 | RPV, Loudoun County, Virginia Politics, Prince William County | 25 Comments

Claims, charges and counter-charges are flying thick and fast between those involved in the FEC complaint filed against the 10th District committee, and keeping up with this while maintaining some perspective is a real challenge.  In a nutshell, we have a situation that wasn’t great to begin with made tremendously worse which is devolving the 10th District back into the kind of crazy infighting that was a hallmark of the Jim Rich era.  When Loudoun County is the center of gravity of a Congressional District, I suppose it’s to be expected that there’s going to be plenty of drama.

I have tremendous respect for the vast majority of people involved in this which makes this episode particularly difficult for me, and I’m sure others as well.  While I have no use for the likes of the conjuring Anna Lee, people like Howie Lind, Tom Whitmore, Shak Hill and the rest involved are terrific and I have no doubt that their motives have been pure and intentions entirely honorable.  Despite that, a series of strategic and tactical mistakes on their collective parts have turned this into a mess that will fully challenge their skills and abilities as they eventually try to put all the pieces back together here.  We’ll get to that point eventually, but it’s going to be a difficult journey to get there.

Back during the Jim Rich era it wasn’t unusual for the 10th District Committee to not file campaign finance reports.  That happened about twenty times as far as I can tell, and the FEC didn’t seem to particularly care about it much.  I can’t find any instances of the FEC assessing fines on the Committee previously, and no one seemed to get enough of a burr in their saddle to file any FEC complaints then.

After the untimely death of the treasurer of the 10th District Commitee a few months back it became clear that Charles Proctor’s shoes were not going to be easy to fill.  It took months to fill the position, and clearly there’s a learning curve about filing campaign finance reports correctly, as somehow disbursements weren’t reported for months.  Many of those reports have been amended to fix problems, but there’s apparently a lot more information that needs to be corrected.  Tom Whitmore started going on the warpath about the problem out of a concern that inaccurate FEC filings could result in penalties being assessed, but for some reason those concerns weren’t resolved.  Knowing the personalities involved this is utterly uncharacteristic, as I have no doubt that if I raised any concerns I had with any of them they’d be more than happy to help resolve them, but in this instance it seems a conflict developed instead of a resolution.

Leaders are ultimately responsible for what their subordinates do, or fail to do.  Despite the explanations, responsibility for any inaccurate filings — and it’s pretty clear there have been problems to some degree — fall on Howie and it’s up to him to get that resolved.  I hope he does that as quickly as possible, and am pretty certain that he will.

Instead of getting RPV involved to help foster a solution internally, Whitmore filed what he terms a “friendly” and “confidential” complaint with the FEC, and then informed RPV that’s what he was doing.  I don’t fault him at all for trying to address the issue, but the method here seems utterly ill-advised.  There is nothing “friendly” about a complaint to the FEC, and there’s vanishingly little chance anything filed with a government agency charged with compliance is ever going to be “confidential.”  The whole idea that running immediately to the Obama Administration to resolve a problem within a committee you’re a member of is going to garner any kind of confidential leniency is utterly implausible.  It may be a case of just utterly terrible judgment, but I suspect something else might be going on here.

Anna Lee notarized Whitmore’s FEC complaint which is obviously not a coincidence.  Anna is running to replace Howie Lind and despite her stolid silence about the consistent failure to comply with campaign finance law when her cabal was running the show, now that she and her Jim Rich types are on the outs she’s been beating the drum about campaign finance reporting issues to friendly bloggers for months now.  It’s not as if Tom Whitmore decided that in order to get a notary he felt his best option was to drive all the way out to Fairfax to find someone who coincidentally was running for 10th District Chairman.  No, it’s pretty likely that this whole thing was Anna Lee’s idea in the first place, and Tom was just a convenient vehicle for her to use in causing trouble for her political adversaries.  Whitmore is somewhat legendary for getting on the warpath about something and being utterly dedicated to that fight, and Anna Lee probably had just the right fight for him to engage in and knew he could be manipulated into doing it for her.

I feel sick that my friend Tom Whitmore ended up in this mess.  I wish he’d thought this through more before he pulled the trigger on this, as I suspect the fallout on this could end up not helping this dedicated and quite talented operations warrior.  Given the stream of emails and calls going out, I suspect that it’s been pretty difficult for him.

Now that this is in the hands of the FEC, it’s hard to tell what’s going to happen.  Likely there will be a fine assessed (with this Administration, rulings like this against political opponents don’t seem to actually require evidence), and that extra expense isn’t going to help especially when it’s coming right around election time when every dollar really counts.   As far as scandals go, this is pretty tame and of little interest to anyone who isn’t a political junkie, but bringing the Obama Administration into this is something you don’t need to be a political junkie to understand.  Howie allowed mistakes to be made on campaign finance reports.  Ho hum.  Tom sicced the Federal Elections Commission on fellow Republicans.  Hmmm.

There will doubtless be a bunch of lessons to be learned from this episode, but we don’t have to wait until this wraps up to start learning now.  One is that district committees have problems complying with campaign finance reporting requirements and RPV needs to step into this gap and make sure they get the help they need to navigate these regulations.  Second is that when you have an “insider baseball” kind of problem you will never, ever be able to keep it confidential if you disclose that information to outside parties.  That’s even when a friendly federal regulator is telling you how sure, we’ll keep things confidential if you spill the beans to us on those hateful Republicans engaged in a war against women and our dear friend Hugo Chavez, and we’ll even go easy on you for snitching.  You’ll only get one year in the gulag, while those you rat out will be there for life!

Lastly, don’t ever get involved with a witch.  They’ll simply ruin your life.

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  1. Just saying said on 12 Apr 2012 at 8:16 pm:
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    If Anna Lee is so intent on reporting things to regulators, maybe she should file a “friendly” report herself to the Secretary of the Commonwealth Notary Division for notarizing the complaint. Notaries sign an oath that they will never notarize any document that they could benefit from. The Notary Division should confidentially and in a friendly manner take away Anna Lee’s notary license.

  2. Loudoun Insider said on 12 Apr 2012 at 8:29 pm:
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    Filing these forms is no big deal. You tally the receipts and disbursements and file the reports. Why Howie decided to not file disbursement reports for months on end makes no sense. Then you see he bought about $900 in gas. I have looked at a ton of political committee reports and have never seen anyone put in for mileage reimbursement, let alone non-itemized gas tank fill-ups. One person cares about the truth and doing the right thing here - Tom Whitmore. Everyone else is covering their own asses and having fits to protect their pals who give them work and let them into events free.

  3. Charles said on 12 Apr 2012 at 8:47 pm:
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    I haven’t been involved in the republican committee here in Prince William since 2008, but if I was, I would definitely not vote for Tom Whitmore, simply on the basis of this story. And I wouldn’t even care if the charges had merit.

    He is embroiled in a controversy over a different organization now. I would never want my committee chair to be distracted by internicene warefare over a congressional district.

    That was one of the great things about Lyle’s era. Lyle was committed to the committee, and that was his focus. Why would we want to go back to where the chair is the story, instead of our candidates?

    Sorry Tom, I know this isn’t fair, but it’s not like you didn’t choose this fight. Fortunately for you, I’m not voting so it won’t hurt you. But given that I was hardly a radical, I have to believe other sane members are thinking the same thing I am, and will vote accordingly. After all, the other candidate isn’t a bad guy either, and he doesn’t come with a pre-packaged albatross hanging around his neck.

  4. Greg L said on 12 Apr 2012 at 8:48 pm:
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    For as much traveling that Howie does, I figure that $900 is a heck of a deal. That’s something like $80 a month? And the guy is absolutely everywhere.

    I agree he didn’t oversee finance report filings like he should have. If that’s the only failure he has during his term, he’s well on the way to being one of the most successful CD chairmen in Virginia history. Yes, it shouldn’t have happened, but in the scheme of things regulatory compliance makes a poor total measure of effectiveness.

  5. Mary said on 12 Apr 2012 at 10:53 pm:
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    From experience, I will say that completely the FEC reports is not as straight forward as you would expect but that is not an excuse not to file.

  6. Lovettsville Lady said on 12 Apr 2012 at 11:43 pm:
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    Great post Greg. Thanks for laying it out so well.

    No matter how many times LI points out that Howie spends less than $80 a month on tank or two of gas, no one will care. We’re just happy to finally have a district chair who travels constantly to be at every event, supporting every candidate, and working hard for our party. You’re right Greg, it’s a bargain and half. I suspect if he submitted mileage reports, and an expense record, we’d learn that we owe him well more than $75 a month.

  7. Loudoun Insider said on 12 Apr 2012 at 11:56 pm:
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    No committee chair anywhere does this, but you’ll keep defending him as you’re told.

  8. Loudoun Insider said on 13 Apr 2012 at 12:00 am:
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    Frank Wolf was fine with the complaint being filed - you better start ragging on him, LvL.

  9. Lovettsville Lady said on 13 Apr 2012 at 12:14 am:
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    Sorry, I don’t take orders from anyone, as you well know, nor has anyone discussed this issue with me. No one. Because no one cares enough to bother with it. It’s a non issue in the party. Sorry! As much as you and Anna and Tom want to think that it matters, it doesn’t. At all. Tom and Anna were already going to lose their races. This won’t change anything other than to make their races even more lopsided.

    I find it hard to believe (impossible to believe) that our Congressman would get involved in anything as silly and petty as this filing. That ”report” comes from the same person who said Frank Wolf called and asked Anna to run for Chair, and is just as credible now as she was then. Really, LI, you need to be more discernible in who you believe. I realize that’s difficult, with so few sources and being so far outside the party.

  10. Loudoun Insider said on 13 Apr 2012 at 6:57 am:
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    More of the junior high “nobody likes you or talks to you” nonsense from an old woman.

    Wolf doesn’t want this BS rubbing off on him.

  11. Doug Brown said on 13 Apr 2012 at 10:06 am:
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    Please Howie Lind was not Wolf’s choice, that’s why I voted for him. :-)

    Congressman, any comment on Mike Maxwell? Hey, how do you like what’s going with ICE intelligence. For all you 287 suporters it might make you think twice before calling ICE.

  12. Lovettsville Lady said on 13 Apr 2012 at 11:57 am:
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    Wolf doesn’t care about this petty BS. He’s got a few more important things on his mind.

    You pretty much nailed LI. But you’ve made that bed for yourself so enjoy lying in it, alone.

  13. The Bulletproof Monk said on 13 Apr 2012 at 12:04 pm:
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    Lind has been the “picture” of what the 10th District Chairman should look like…and that’s coming from someone who voted against him in the bid for the seat.
    This is bad politics….waving a false charge and conspiracy in front of the democrats in a pivotal year. Not smart….but self-serving.

    I haven’t been in seclusion…I’ve been busy building two more corporations, and they, like children….demand all of my time to foster that growth until they stand on their own.
    Wait till they take off and I’m readily available for November.

  14. Brian Schoeneman said on 13 Apr 2012 at 2:29 pm:
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    I don’t really want to wade into this because I’m not in the 10th or in Loudoun, but I do want to defend some of my friends at the FEC. The FEC is an independent commission - it’s not part of the executive branch, and it’s not beholden to Obama. There are six commissioners - 3 Democrats and 3 Republicans. Right now, all of the appointees were appointed by President Bush.

    They tend to be apolitical - they send out as many “love notes” to Democratic PACs as they do to Republican PACs. Everybody gets them, even the best run organizations. Generally these things are resolved without fines or other penalities, and even then the penalties aren’t ridiculously severe. They’re generally based on the level of activity, and I doubt the 10th District committee is playing with a large amount of money on each report.

    I’m not trying to downplay the importance of what’s going on here, but don’t worry that this is somehow going to open up the 10th to a partisan attack from the Obama Administration. It won’t - at least, not any more than we would expect from Democrats.

  15. Benny said on 13 Apr 2012 at 2:31 pm:
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    More big talk from LI, the kept man…This is just Anna Lee causing a stir to try to win a seat as district chair because she can’t win on her old ideas that were swept away last election cycle…I am looking forward to supporting Whitbeck for Chairman of the 10th…and for the big mouth mal-contents, your rants and lawsuits make you look pitiful…

  16. Anonymous said on 13 Apr 2012 at 2:42 pm:
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    I love how Anna Lee tries to hide behind the “I was only the notary” as if she was Tom Whitmore’s next door neighbor and it was simple convenience for Tom to walk over and get a signature. Yeah, right. What a moron.

    If her adherence to the rules about notaries not signing off on anything they have a personal interest tells us anything its that if she’s selected as the 10th District chair it will be the Jim Rich era all over again with a vengeance. We might as well be voting for Stalin as for Anna Lee.


  17. Loudoun Insider said on 13 Apr 2012 at 7:53 pm:
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    What kind of a-hole talks about his private business on a political blog? The biggest a-hole in Loudoun County, that’s who.

    “Kept man”, that’s funny, Benny.

    Imagine if Jim Rich was filling up his gas tank on the 10th’s dime. The tools would be howling then.

  18. Loudoun Outsider said on 14 Apr 2012 at 8:42 am:
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    Anna Lee appears to have taken a page out of the Joanne Chase playbook. How well did it work for her?
    I also take exception to your comment: ” When Loudoun County is the center of gravity of a Congressional District, I suppose it’s to be expected that there’s going to be plenty of drama..” Greg, if there is more drama in Loudoun than Prince William, its because the gene pool is bigger.

  19. Lovettsville Lady said on 14 Apr 2012 at 4:59 pm:
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    Still worrying about the chair buying a tank of gas? Sorry Anna, Tom, and LI, that dog just won’t hunt. No one cares. That should be rather obvious my now. Your big ‘’smoking gun” turned out to be a water pistol with a leak, so it’s not even fun and no one wants to play with it. The real gun was used when you shot your political careers in the foot with this silly filing. You may succeed in embarrassing the republican 10th district, but you’ve embarrassed yourself far more.

    If Jim Rich had been running around the district like Howie has, working for all our candidates, we would gladly have paid for his gas too. Unfortunately, Jim had no need for gas or tolls reimbursements since he rarely left The Plains and Middleburg.

  20. Just saying said on 15 Apr 2012 at 10:35 am:
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    Saturday at the PW convention showed one more reason not to get involved with a witch.

    Tom might have won that contest. He chose to align himself with the likes of Anna and JoAnn, and the dirty tricks backfired.

    Tom’s action have already begun to damage the GOP during this critical election year. Some of the Democrat blogs are already abuzz with this complaint.

    Just last year JoAnn was the clear front runner in her nomination race, but instead of moving forward she chose to needlessly sling audacious claims that turned many of her supporters against her. Linking up with the same person to do the same thing one year later is at best poor judgement.

    Now it remains to be seen if Anna will lose her notary license for stamping a document that involves her and could benefit her.

  21. Lovettsville Lady said on 15 Apr 2012 at 11:59 am:
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    What did Einstein say? Something like ‘the definition of stupidity/insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result’. People who don’t learn from their mistakes are destined to repeat them, over and over. Here is yet another example. Do we want people like that in leadership roles in our party? I think not.

    I hope that Anna doesn’t lose her notary license but it’s hard to argue that what she notarized but it’s hard to argue that she didn’t help Tom on the document because it could benefit her. This is politics. Of course they both thought it would benefit them, or they wouldn’t have done it. They guessed wrong.

  22. Greg L said on 15 Apr 2012 at 12:40 pm:
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    I do not believe Tom was motivated by personal benefit. That’s not how he operates. He was simply convinced for some reason that this was the right thing to do. Over the years he’s made some decisions I’d consider unusual, and followed through on those like a pit bull, but in no instance did he personally benefit from the fight or would have benefited if he had prevailed.

    To the extent any personal benefit might accrue for Tom, I am convinced his mindset is that by hard work, dedication to principle and utter determination he would earn respect but that is not at all his primary motivation. The only challenge he has yet to overcome is knowing more consistently which fights to pick and who he can trust.

    That same thing probably holds for the majority of us, and certainly for me, so Tom’s in pretty good company here.

  23. Lovettsville Lady said on 15 Apr 2012 at 9:55 pm:
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    I am very glad to read this. I was surprised when Tom took the action against the 10th because he had always seemed like an honorable man. But the timing, and the company he chose, was questionable. He made an error in judgment, but as you say, who hasn’t?

  24. The Bulletproof Monk said on 16 Apr 2012 at 11:43 am:
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    Whitmore, previously a pivitol and effective activist, needs to choose his company more carefully. They just cost him the PWC Chairman’s race….and the smart money is they just cost him a State Central seat, too.

    Let’s get into those 22 filing irregularities by the 10th when the Notary on this one was sitting at that table. Then compare apples to apples.

  25. The Bulletproof Monk said on 24 Apr 2012 at 9:36 am:
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    “What kind of a-hole talks about his private business on a political blog? The biggest a-hole in Loudoun County, that’s who.”

    One who is responding to the prick who has labeled him as “secluded”, when nothing could be further from the truth. I’m busy….nothing more.

    And apparently, I still keep more information in my front pocket that you can garner from anyone theses days. That’s the cost of self-inflicted isolationism.

    You have to call your victims to attempt to extract info from them….and then act really surprized when they tell you to piss off.

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