This week’s Metro Spirit had a full page devoted to the Columbia County Republican Party circus. Lee Benedict sent a letter to the editor of the Augusta Chronicle that was not published. After we read the Spirit’s article we were a little upset when we read that he sent letters to the editors of other papers after Barry Paschal published a letter by him a few weeks ago. Why were we upset? Benedict didn’t send us an editorial, and after we read the story we sent an email to him with a few questions that he answered.
He said that the Chronicle did not print his letter because it was regarding conflict and confrontation and not public policy and all of that. Most of us agreed with that decision after we read the letter. Benedict said that Eric Johnson of the Spirit called him and left a message that was replied to with an email and you know the rest; Benedict and Johnson met, Johnson published an article.
Here’s the letter that was sent to the Chronicle and the Spirit:
In August, I sent an email to Columbia County’s Republican Chairman Brian Slowinski in which I asked a question. He turned it in to threats against my family, which prompted an immediate ethics complaint against him. Former Columbia County Republican Chairman and current district and state Republican Party officer, Debbie McCord, emailed me five weeks later stating that she is the new Ethics Committee Chairman and emphatically declared such, duly nominated and approved IAW proper procedure after I questioned the validity in which it was done. A week later, oops, she’s not Chairman because of improper procedure. All the while, Slowinski remained silent and refused to attempt to take some form of responsibility and/or make amends.
Columbia County GOP Executive Board members just informed me that the Board voted to dismiss my complaint, submitted in August and never acted upon, because the Membership Chairman stated I have not renewed my membership. So, if you want for the CCGOP, and, via McCord’s in-depth involvement, the State GOP, to act upon complaints against one of their officers, you best pony up some cash. How shady is that policy? Give us money or we will not discuss an ethics complaint. It’s not a governor auctioning a US Senate appointment, but similar in principle, or lack of principle, tainting the process and alienating the masses.
My membership lapsed in August. Funny that I was never sent a notice informing me of such. Don’t most organized institutions send at least a half-dozen reminders? My hypothesis on this matter is that a complaint was submitted in August, so the “leadership” allows the complainant’s membership to expire, and at the next board meeting, improperly put a State party officer on the Executive Board to waste more time and then a week later own up to the fact that it was wrong, then, at the next board meeting, make a motion to dismiss the complaint, which, surprise, was passed. Pretty slick method of disposing of a complaint in the boardroom, but an exponentially less than honorable practice and a very poor way of keeping existing members and attracting new ones.
So it appears that Benedict claims that the party executives delayed long enough, and allowed his membership to expire, so they could dismiss the complaint on the grounds of Benedict not being a member of the CCGOP. This is Benedict’s side and opinion, so we only have his side of the story. He also raised a few questions that just don’t seem right. If a complaint is filed, can they really dismiss it because whoever submitted the complaint is not a member? He claims that he was told just that, and allegedly some claimed that a time limit had passed. Whatever happened, we find ourselves asking, why bring up a person’s membership status. Why did the membership people let his membership expire without sending reminders (according to Benedict)? As far as some time limit running out, and we do remember reading in one of the emails that was sent to us that Benedict claimed there was a 30 day time limit to handle complaints. We also remember reading an email forwarded to us (and there were many) that was a Benedict-McCord exchange. We have the email sent to Lee Benedict from Debbie McCord on October 6th, and here it is and in bold letters for you to read for yourself: “There is no set time limit established in the CCRP rules for the Ethics Committee to respond to a complaint. The 30 day “window” is in reference to the removal of an officer by the County Committee. Please refer to Section X and Section VI 6.1.8 of the Columbia County Republican Party Rules shown below”
If that’s true, then there is no time limit, and that means that they dismissed the complaint because Benedict didn’t renew his membership. We have no idea what the vote tally was, but whoever voted to dismiss the complaint needs to go. And let’s give a hearty shout-out to the membership department.
Coming up…the rest of the email back and forth between Benedict and McCord and others, and our analysis of the Metro Spirit article. But next will be our numero uno post so stay tuned.