The Trump Bat Escapade

Background: During the fall 2016 election period there was a Donald Trump baseball bat, a collector’s item, on display in the Lee County GOP Headquarters. It was privately owned and left there to attract a buyer.

The Allegation: Someone working on Sherry-Lynn Womack’s school board campaign in Lee County was alleged to be intimidating voters with a Donald Trump baseball bat. It is further alleged that Jim Womack was somehow involved.

The Truth: In late October 2016, during early voting, Lee County republicans were handing out their (now famous) Conservative and Veteran’s ballot at the early voting sites. It was a highly popular sample ballot identifying all veterans who were running for office. This ballot also identified all judges and justices who were Republicans and suggested everyone should vote all Republican. Lee County democrats were dismayed this ballot was being legally distributed and that many minority voters were taking this sample ballot to see who the veterans were (almost all of whom were Republican candidates).

One member of the local NAACP, a democrat operative, posted on Facebook that democrats must stop the distribution of this ballot by bringing bats to the polls if necessary. In an attempt to mock the Facebook post, several local Republicans posed the next day with baseball gear in and around the GOP headquarters. Sherry-Lynn Womack posed for a picture with the Trump bat inside the GOP headquarters. Later in the day, another Lee GOP volunteer ill-advisedly removed the Trump bat from the headquarters and took it down the block to a parking lot across from a polling site. Sherry-Lynn Womack noticed him there with the bat in hand while she was electioneering. She left the polling site, met him in the parking lot and removed the bat from his possession. She returned the bat to the Lee GOP headquarters. At no time were there voters in the vicinity of the person with the bat and at no time was the bat raised in a menacing manner.

Jim Womack, then a party official in the Lee GOP, was electioneering at another early voting site. He was completely unaware of the Trump bat being used for any purpose. He did not know about any pictures being taken, and he was unaware the bat ever left the GOP headquarters until days later, when the local election board received a complaint of voter intimidation. All was reported to the NCGOP and resolved by the NCGOP General Counsel.

Conclusion: The Trump bat story is incredibly ironic. Democrats were seeking to interfere with Republican electioneering in Lee County, yet Republicans were accused of voter intimidation. Allegations of voter intimidation with a Trump bat were a complete fabrication, with no basis in truth.

House Republicans Removing Their Caucus Money

Background: The North Carolina General Assembly voted in 2015 to authorize the NC House and Senate political conferences to move their funds out from under the management of the NCGOP. The state senate moved its funds in 2016, during the tenure of Hasan Harnett. On May 23, 2017, the NC House of Representatives GOP Caucus also voted to move its funds from management by the NCGOP to an independent account, not under management of or reporting by the NCGOP.

The Allegation: Some pundits assert the upcoming election of a new NCGOP Party Chair had a major role in the House GOP members electing to move their funds away from managerial oversight by the NCGOP finance team. Some media sources seem to think the imminent demise of Chairman Hayes was the cause for moving the money. Another source speculated the move was necessary to keep Hayes from robbing the kitty before the funds were turned over to his successor for management. Another source stated the probable election of Jim Womack as the new state GOP Chairman on June 3, 2017 had nothing to do with the vote today; that instead the purpose was to de-couple the House caucus account from the NCGOP operational accounts to enhance collections from a broader range of contributors.

The Truth: Barring a statement from the Speaker of the House or testimony from GOP Caucus insiders, the truth is elusive. We’re not altogether sure any two people in the caucus would agree entirely about why they voted this way, and why they did it two weeks before convention.

Conclusion: There was no accompanying rationale provided for the GOP Caucus moving its money. Frankly, it is the prerogative of the General Assembly caucus’ to manage their money in manner that best suits their needs. Jim Womack respects the legislative authority of the NCGA to co-mingle funds with the respective parties or to manage them independently. The Senate moved its funds in a previous legislative session, and the House found it expedient to do so this year- prior to the election of a new NCGOP Chairman. It doesn’t appear the GOP Caucus in the House was particularly worried about whether the party was about to change leaders. Womack has expressed his support for the House managing its caucus money in whatever manner it prefers. Womack has repeatedly stated his support for the General Assembly under current management. This move by the GOP Caucus does not alter his support in the least. North Carolina has perhaps the finest legislature in the country. That same General Assembly is chiefly responsible for enabling the amazing turnaround of this state’s economic fortunes since 2009. Moving GOP caucus money to an independent account is a trivial matter in comparison to the superb legislative record of this body.

A Defense of the Former Party Chairman

Background: Throughout early 2016, members of the NCGOP received disturbing reports from party officials about Republican Party Chairman Hasan Harnett. Some of the allegations were that he had hacked into the party’s financial accounts and web site, which could have been criminal acts. These reports were accompanied by messages from the Chairman, himself, who complained about being locked out of the NCGOP headquarters and his email account- which would prevent him from doing his job. Eventually, the Central Committee of the NCGOP met and voted to petition the party’s Executive Committee to convene a trial of Mr. Harnett, at which time they would take a vote to dismiss him as Chairman. A generalized list of allegations was provided to the Executive Committee. The trial was convened on April 30, 2016, a date Mr. Harnett was scheduled to be out of the country on business travel. He was tried in absentia.

The Allegation: Jim Womack was alleged to be a vigorous supporter of Mr. Harnett and that he acted as Chairman Harnett’s advocate in the April 30, 2016 trial. Womack is alleged to have defended Harnett’s actions as Chairman, seeking to prevent his dismissal. It is alleged more than 2/3 of the Executive Committee voted to discharge Mr. Harnett from his duties as Chairman.

The Truth: Indeed, Jim Womack supported Chairman Hasan Harnett because he was the duly elected leader of the NCGOP, elected by acclamation during the NCGOP convention in 2015. Throughout March and April 2016, Womack queried central committee members about their claims of Harnett’s malfeasance. Womack was provided nothing of substance that would rise to the level of disloyalty or gross inefficiency.

When Womack discovered Harnett was not going to be offered legal assistance and that he was to be tried in absentia, Womack offered to step in as an advocate to afford Mr. Harnett due process as typically assured in our legal system (and by Roberts Rules of Order).

Womack discovered the Central Committee had violated our state Plan of Organization in convening the trial and he challenged the legitimacy of the trial on the grounds that Roberts Rules were being circumvented in denying Harnett the ability to be present and to speak on his own behalf.

During the trial, the presiding officer liberally allowed hearsay information from the prosecution; but Womack was frequently interrupted and scolded during his defense of Harnett for being argumentative. He was not allowed to fully present Harnett’s case. Robert’s Rules were waived in the trial to disallow matters of extenuation and mitigation that would have helped Mr. Harnett’s case.

Mr. Harnett was not given a fair trial and he was denied due process. In the end, fewer than 200 members present in the room voted to oust the Chairman, not nearly the majority of the Executive Committee that is required by our state Plan of Organization for taking such action.

Conclusion: Jim Womack’s defense of Chairman Hasan Harnett was a noble attempt to protect the will of the voters from the 2015 NCGOP convention and to ensure due process for our elected leader. Womack mounted the best defense that was possible, under the circumstances, and stood to gain nothing from defending the Chairman.

#ReviveTheParty

Learn more about Jim Womack here.

Lee County’s Conservative & Veterans Ballot

Background: The Lee County Conservative Ballot Political Action Committee decided to make a slight change in its approach to electing conservatives in 2016. In the interest of encouraging cross-over votes from unaffiliated and democrat veterans, the ballot title was changed to read “Conservative and Veterans Ballot.” All veterans – most of whom who were Republicans -were identified in red, and all Republican judges were identified by party, including Justice Edmunds. Approximately 8,000 of these ballots were printed and distributed by conservative volunteers at both early voting sites and at all ten precincts on election day. Hundreds of these ballots were distributed to democrat and unaffiliated veterans and the vast majority of Republican voters entering the precincts. These ballots were so disturbing to the local democrat party that one member suggested bringing baseball bats to the polling places to stop this ballot from being distributed, if necessary.

The Allegation: A complaint was filed with the NCGOP that this ballot was misleading and possibly a violation of the Plan of Organization in that it identified veterans of other parties and might cause some votes to vote for those candidates. As the creator of this sample ballot, the complaint was against Mr. Womack.

The Truth: Jim Womack and the conservative ballot committee carefully weighed the consequences of identifying veterans on our conservative ballot for the first time- this was an unprecedented sample ballot in the state. In sample polling, the team discovered most voters, regardless of party, wanted to see who the veterans were. At least 2000 of these ballots were given to unaffiliated and democrat voters, many of whom who were veterans themselves. Notably, all candidates who were recommended with a darkened circle were Republicans, without exception. While all veterans were identified, only Republicans were recommended for a vote. This was the only conservative sample ballot being distributed in Lee County that contained all races and that correctly identified all Republican judges.

Conclusion: Despite Lee County being democrat-dominated, this ballot was a huge success in swinging cross-over voters. All Republican judges won their races, including NC Supreme Court justice Edmunds by more than 3 points. Trump won by a 13-point landslide. McCrory won by 6.5 points. The Senate and House races were landslides for Burr and Walker- both winning by 13 points. Council of State races for AG, Agriculture, Labor, Superintendent, Treasurer, and Insurance were all won by Republicans with comfortable margins. In every case for statewide races, the conservative and veterans ballot helped swing voters to Republican veterans.

#ReviveTheParty

Learn More about Jim Womack here.

Supporting the Incumbent Republican Congressman

Background: The Court ordered redistricting in 2015 caused a realignment of Lee County into the 6th Congressional District with a primary scheduled for June 2016. Jim Womack was serving as Vice Chairman of the Lee County GOP during the election period and he spent time researching and discussing policy matters with both Republican candidates for Congress- Chris Hardin and (incumbent) Mark Walker.

The Allegation: During and immediately after the June 2016 primary election, candidate Chris Hardin complained that Jim Womack supported incumbent Mark Walker to be the Republican nominee for election in November, rather than supporting him or remaining neutral. Hardin claims Womack used his position in the Lee GOP to help Walker win, and that Womack manipulated poll workers into supporting Walker as well.

The Truth: Jim Womack performed comprehensive background research on both candidates and analyzed the voting record of Walker prior to deciding which candidate he would support. In his capacity of Vice Chairman, Womack afforded both candidates equal opportunity to address Lee County members.

Hardin received special assistance by showing up and being assisted by Womack and others at the “Broadway Our Way” festival in April 2016. His materials were distributed and he was introduced to prominent personalities all day. Walker did not participate in that event so he received no special assistance.

Both candidates participated in a point, counter-point session at the Lee GOP Headquarters at one official meeting. Neither candidate was given an advantage in that debate.

After closely assessing both candidates, Womack made the decision he would support Walker as the superior candidate for Congress. Principal reasons for his decision were: Walker had a strong conservative voting record in Congress; Walker was a very devout Christian and practiced his faith openly; Walker was easily going to win the primary in all 8 counties of the 6th District; and Walker demonstrated a more mature and statesmanlike demeanor, suitable for Congressional interaction. Additionally, Womack favored Walker over Hardin because Hardin had only recently become a Republican, had never held public office, and had actively voted in democrat primaries for years.

As a poll worker and electioneering volunteer, Womack coordinated the distribution of “conservative ballots” at all precincts showing a preference for Walker. These sample ballots had no markings suggesting they were official Republican Party sponsored ballots. The candidates recommended on these ballots were chosen by the Conservative Ballot Committee, an independent group not officially sanctioned by the Lee County GOP. Womack did not use his title or position in the party to favor Walker, fully complying with the state Plan of Organization.

Conclusion: Representative Mark Walker has proven himself to be a capable and effective legislator, now chairing the House’s largest and most influential caucus- the Republican Study Committee. Womack violated no party rules in his support for the more conservative and capable candidate in this race.

#ReviveTheParty

Learn more about Jim Womack here.

Wearing a Paper Bag at Convention

Background: Lee County delegate Jim Womack attended the 2016 NCGOP Convention. As with the past two state conventions, the agenda and program were tediously protracted, with little actual business being accomplished. Credentialing was painfully slow and many delegates departed the convention hall out of disgust with the procedural problems and perceived manipulations of the central governing body. Peaceful protests were sprouting up all across the convention hall.

The Allegation: Jim Womack was one of about a dozen people alleged to have worn paper bags on their heads during certain periods of the 2016 convention.

The Truth: Delegate Jim Womack and about a dozen other grass roots activists did indeed wear paper sacks on their heads in peaceful protest each time the convention chairman or central committee staff were perceived to be manipulating the proceedings to disadvantage grass roots candidates running for office, or when resolutions and platform changes were being suppressed. Rather than leave the convention hall in disgust, Womack and others chose instead to demonstrate their dissatisfaction with convention dysfunction, disorganization, and manipulation by wearing a paper sack on their heads. This was a much more constructive and less disruptive means of showing disagreement than by leaving the hall and losing the ability to vote on important convention matters.

Conclusion: Sports enthusiasts understand the humor and subtle mockery of a franchise’s authority when its fans wear paper sacks on their heads. Such gestures are intended to draw attention to the deficiencies of an organization and its leadership, without being disruptive. So too are political protests of this type. NCGOP members who shell out hundreds of dollars to participate in state conventions have every right to demonstrate their dissatisfaction with party leaders in an organized, orderly and peaceful manner.

#ReviveTheParty

Learn more about Jim Womack here.