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Wednesday, 27 September 2017 14:10

‘Haywood Five’ to face state disloyalty charges

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Charges of “political party disloyalty” first leveled by the Haywood County Republican Party this past May against a group of local Republican dissidents known as the “Haywood Five” will move forward to the state level, The Smoky Mountain News has confirmed.

According to documents obtained on condition of anonymity Sept. 20, North Carolina Republican Party 11th District Chairman Aubrey Woodard has asked members of the 11th District to sign and return “a District resolution in support of Haywood’s charges” against Eddie Cabe, Jeremy Davis, Monroe Miller, Richard West and Paul Yeager.

The district resolution sent by Woodard says that “the Haywood County Republican Party passed a resolution May 23, 2017, requesting that the North Carolina Republican Party take the “strongest possible action” against the five.

NCGOP Executive Director Dallas Woodhouse confirmed via phone Sept. 25 that the NCGOP had received a petition from the HCGOP alleging that a number of people had engaged in party disloyalty by supporting candidates other than Republicans in a general election.

The allegations center around supposed support of Democrat Robin Greene Black in last year’s Haywood County Board of Commissioners race; some local Republicans have in the past maligned Republican Commissioner Kevin Ensley for his votes on the Democrat-majority board.

Ensley, however, easily won re-election; Black finished dead last in the four-way race that also resulted in Republican Brandon Rogers winning the seat of retiring Mark Swanger, a Democrat, in a heavily Republican county that also saw a resounding Trump victory and losses by Dems across the board.

“The state party is obligated under its rules to prepare a report and, based on the evidence, present the evidence to the committee. We don’t have a choice in that matter,” Woodhouse said. “We anticipate that this matter will be dealt with in closed session of the NCGOP’s state executive committee — which has over 500 members — on Saturday, Nov. 11, at an already-planned meeting in Cary.”

Woodhouse added that any of the accused would be allowed to present a defense; Davis said he plans to, but hasn’t seen any of the evidence against him.

Yeager, on the other hand, may not get the opportunity to defend himself.

“It would be difficult to do so, as I have received a letter from NCGOP General Counsel Tom Stark banning me from all HCGOP meetings, HCGOP sponsored events, NCGOP headquarters in Raleigh, and all NCGOP owned or leased properties,” he said. “That would appear to make my appearance at that meeting grounds for a trespass charge.”

The letter from Stark titled “Notice of Trespass all North Carolina Republican Party properties and events” cites an allegation that Yeager was removed from the Haywood County Fairgrounds Aug. 24 after an incident with HCGOP Precinct Chair Ted Carr.

“Your recent hostile behavior at the Haywood County Fair, directed at volunteers of the local party, necessitated your removal from these premises by the fair authorities,” the reads Sept. 19 the letter that confirms Yeager’s statements about where he is — and isn’t — allowed.

But a report filed by Haywood County Sheriff’s Deputy Chris Strader says that Sheriff Greg Christopher, who was apparently present at the event, “advised Mr. Yager [sic] to stay away from Mr. and Mrs. Carr [sic] political booth to alleviate the need of banning him from the property.”

Carr’s civil case against Yeager has been continued to Oct. 4, but it’s not the first courtroom action between members of the groups; Miller had unsuccessfully brought suit against HCGOP Precinct Chairman Charles Douglas Wright after a confrontation last fall.

Miller was removed from his role as a HCGOP executive committee member earlier this summer on charges of gross inefficiency and political disloyalty; he refused to present a defense and walked out of his hearing after party officials told him he couldn’t record the proceedings.

These most recent political disloyalty charges against the Haywood Five are the latest episode in an increasingly acrimonious relationship between the mainstream county party and the faction now known as the Haywood Republican Alliance.

Members of the HRA insist the schism between them and the HCGOP isn’t about politics, per se; no one side lays claim to being more conservative, or more progressive, than the other.

It is instead a conflict fueled by strong personalities, personal animosity and concerns by the HRA about HCGOP transparency, especially after the members of what would become the HRA were ousted from HCGOP leadership this past winter, and scrutinized for disloyalty shortly thereafter.

“Everything the party has done surrounding this and general operations since the leadership change in February has been done in secret, closed sessions,” said Davis. “This is how the communist party handles business, not the GOP.”

If the Haywood Five were to be found disloyal to the party, “they could be banned from engaging in party leadership for up to five years,” Woodhouse said Sept. 25.

Woodard’s resolution mailed to District 11 party members also specifically mentions “charges” brought by the HCGOP May 23 and asks the NCGOP to determine if the actions of Davis and the rest “rise to the level of party disloyalty.”

Sanctions handed down by the NCGOP could, in addition to the five-year ban, include banning any or all of the Haywood Five from holding party office, all the way from precinct level to state party chair.

The NCGOP could also deem the those named in the petition ineligible for support from the party should they run for state, local or federal election.

“It’s very frustrating, because no one has been more Republican red than me and the others charged,” Davis said. “I feel sorry for the district members that have repeatedly been lied to by the Haywood County Republican Party.”

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