Republican Party of Virginia’s State Central Committee met last week at the Advance in Chantilly. Among the items they discussed was the removal of Jon Berkley from the 5th District chairmanship. The move is called a remedy for a dysfunctional committee. The case against Berkley is lengthy and baffling. He thinks he is a king but he is really just someone who falls under the party plan and therefore needs to play nice with the others in the sandbox. Berkley has acted in revenge against Republicans, has ignored State Central and RPV General Counsel rulings, and he has handled himself like a real jerk. Our party should have no place for anyone who chooses to conduct themselves as he has in this last year. It is time to remove Berkley.
Berkley’s baffling incompetence first popped up on my radar last spring during the pre-filing period for the state convention. As Charlotte County chair Berkley did everything he could to stop 19 Republicans from being delegates because they would have voted against Berkley for chairman at the 5th District convention. The story is obnoxiously ridiculous. The Bull Elephant ran it when it happened. Berkley claims that the envelope of forms he received could have contained a playboy magazine or a bomb, he didn’t know. So he put an envelope that may have had a bomb in it in his car? How often do you put bombs in your car?
When word of Berkley’s actions in refusing those forms came out, the campaign I was working on blasted out an email alerting Republicans of Berkley’s shenanigans so that the grassroots could rise up and stop this injustice. That is when Berkley and I first spoke as he called me cursing me out with f this and f that. What a nice guy. I had not yet met him nor ever spoken with him, but here he is acting all tough and threatening to me over the phone. How about engage me in conversation first, then act as you need to but opening up with cursing and demands and threats is, at the least, unprofessional.
Next came Berkley’s baffling refusal to turn in the Charlotte County delegate list to the U.S. Senate campaigns and to RPV. I kept calling and emailing Berkley asking for the names of those who signed up. Technically the party plan does not compel him to hand over the names, but EVERY other chair did so in a judicious fashion. State Central Committee members have told me the reason the pre-file deadlines for signing up for the convention were so early was it would allow the campaigns more time to engage the delegates. By withholding the delegate list from the campaigns Berkley was doing his county committee a disservice because he was preventing those delegates from being engaged by the candidates and therefore they were going to a convention without all the information they should have to cast their vote.
I saw Berkley at the 5th District convention and I approached him about sending me the Charlotte County delegate list. He actually told me that he hadn’t sent it to me because his feelings were hurt after the email about throwing out the 19 delegate forms. Unbelievable. I can’t believe he admitted to me how small and petty he is. I told him that grown men do not let hurt feelings prevent us from meeting our responsibilities. Berkley responded without class, but eventually promised me that he would email me the list “Monday/Tuesday.” That Wednesday I called Berkley leaving an obnoxious message of my own pointing out the fact that Monday/Tuesday had come and gone and no list was sent. At the state convention I saw Berkley and reminded him that he broke the only promise he ever made to me. I also pointed out that the effort required on his part was minimal, just attach an excel file to an email and hit send, that’s it!
This next part is the worst part of all. I witnessed it and I still can’t believe it. After Berkley won the chairman’s race at the 5th District convention one of Berkley’s cronies stood up and made a motion to strip the 5th District State Central Committee members of voting rights at the 5th District Committee level. Why? How does that serve the 5th District? Berkley did so out of revenge. The five members of the 5th District State Central Committee did not support Berkley in the chairman’s race so petty little Berkley wanted to strike back. With few people left the question of a quorum was brought up, but the convention chair was a Berkley supporter who ruled that a quorum wasn’t needed. The floor then voted in favor of this motion only because Berkley’s minions were holding up Robert Hurt for Congress signs that had a big “yes” attached to them. I stood by the doorway and asked people as they left if they knew what they had just voted for and the dozen I spoke to said no. State Central Committee members are voted to serve their district by district members at a convention or mass meeting. But here we saw just a few Berkley and Hurt supporters overturn the results of the 5th District convention from 2 years ago. By stripping these popularly elected members of voting rights Berkley disrespected the will of his own committee. And he did this out of revenge.
Funny thing about all of this is State Central’s move to remove Berkley is based entirely on how Berkley has handled himself since all of these events I described happened. He came into the chair acting like he doesn’t have to follow the rules and then proceeded to do just that. He has ignored State Central and General Counsel throughout. At the meeting on Friday Berkley was absent and he didn’t even send a proxy. I was at the Advance over the weekend and when I heard about State Central’s move I started lobbying State Central members with the firsthand information I have from dealing with Berkley. Just like me, they couldn’t understand why a Republican would act like that to other Republicans.
Berkley’s fate will be decided at the next State Central Committee meeting in January. He will be given the chance to defend himself at this meeting, if he decides to show up.
Individually these events make Berkley look like a real jerk, collectively they illustrate that Berkley does not have the integrity to serve in any elected capacity. Looking at things as a whole we see a pattern which establishes a behavior, a behavior unbecoming a member of our party, a behavior we can just simply do without. It is time to remove Jon Berkley from the 5th District chair.
Cross-posted to Red NoVA