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HomeNewsElections 2016National Party Scolds V.I. Republicans

National Party Scolds V.I. Republicans

If you thought the local Republican Party activists were like squabbling siblings and the National Committee would be the wise parent whose ruling would solve all the problems; think again.

The Republican National Committee’s Standing Committee on Contests in a ruling last week lectured the two factions like they were squabbling siblings, but the ruling may not have settled anything. Republican Party chairman John Canegata appears ready to continue the fight.

The ruling said that the six delegates originally elected to go to the Republican National Convention in Cleveland this month were certified to go even though Canegata had claimed they were ineligible.

After an article about the national committee ruling appeared in the media, Canegata said, “The facts are clear: John Yob, Erica Yob and Lindsey Eilon committed election fraud by being registered to vote and domiciled in multiple jurisdictions. They also swore false oaths and provided false information to the Elections System of the Virgin Islands. … The Contests Committee did not rule on this in its preliminary report, which will be appealed.”

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Yob, who was on the winning side in this round, sent the Source an email Sunday stating, "This decision by the RNC Contests Committee means that the properly elected delegates will be seated and therefore the votes of Virgin Islanders who participated in the Republican caucus will matter and be counted. I would encourage Mr Canegata to look in the mirror and decide it is time to stop embarrassing the Virgin Islands on the national stage."

The committee report said the actions of Canegata to replace the delegates were flawed. Specifically, it said that an email sent out by Canegata the day after the caucus could not be counted as a notification of certified results.

The report, however, said nothing about who is head of the local Republican Party. Canegata, however, sent the Source an email in which he said: “The RNC has previously said the Republican Party of the United States Virgin Islands is the RNC-recognized state party for the Virgin Islands and the chairman is John Canegata.”

However, a rival faction in the party held a convention of its own in May and elected W. Bruce Cole as chairman. It reversed where United States appears in the name and calls itself the Republican Party of the Virgin Islands of the United States.

And as the national committee urged local Republicans to refrain from “petulant, and at times seemingly devious conduct;” the situation may be getting stickier.

Recently, attorney Mark Eckard, representing Canegata and other Republicans, filed a civil complaint in V.I. Superior Court against Cole and asked for a summons to be issued for Cole to appear in court. The complaint alleges that Cole, who was the Territory Republican Committee Treasurer before the brouhaha began, is holding property of the Republican Party illegally – property that includes checkbooks, financial books and funds.

Cole said Sunday he had not seen the filing.

The Virgin Islands controversy still has national attention. On Sunday Chad Livengood led off an article in the Detroit News by writing, “A scathing new report to the Republican National Committee rules in favor of a veteran Michigan GOP political operative’s bid to represent the U.S. Virgin Islands at next month’s national convention while issuing blistering criticism of the “abhorrent behavior” surrounding a months-long delegate fight.”

John Yob is a Grand Rapids native.

Livengood writes, “Yob’s battle for delegate seats was entangled in his longstanding feud with former Michigan Republican Party Chairman Saul Anuzis, who has done fundraising work for Canegata. Northern Michigan Republican operative Dennis Lennox, a close ally to Anuzis, moved to the Virgin Islands this winter to seemingly get involved in battling Yob at Canegata’s behest.”

Lennox chaired the convention last month on St. Thomas where Canegata was re-elected.

The Detroit News article also noted that though Yob is claiming residency in the Virgin Islands, “Yob’s main political consulting business, Strategic National, remains headquartered in downtown Grand Rapids and he still owns a home in Kent County.”

The national committee’s report was scathing. A preliminary note stated, “As became obvious in reading the parties’ venom-full submissions to this committee, this contest arises out of the months of contentious, unprofessional infighting that has been going on between some in the Virgin Islands party’s leadership, including its chairman, and certain contestants. Seemingly every week, news arises of more alleged misbehavior by both factions – including acts of assault, threats, defamation, fraud, subterfuge and misuse of party rules.”

After discussing the appearance of Yob and Canegata on Comedy Central’s "The Daily Show," the preliminary note concludes. “But this is no laughing matter. The soap opera is a blight on U.S. Virgin Islands Republican Party. This continual mischief from the Virgin Islands must end immediately – starting at the top of the party.”

Doyle Webb, chairman of the committee and head of the Republican Party of Arkansas, signed the nine-page report published Thursday. He is also the third most senior chairman within the Republican National Committee. 

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