All Politics is Local

Republican Party infighting pops up at county fair (updated)

Elisabeth Veneman

Elisabeth Veneman

The Clark County Fair is a time to relax, have a peach milkshake, see some livestock, catch a demolition derby and (because it’s election season) engage in some political bickering.

In a message sent out to the Clark County Republican Party’s email list earlier this week, the party’s Chairman David Robert Gellatly described an incident of interparty feuding that happened at the party’s fair booth on Saturday, Aug. 4. It concerned the campaign of Elisabeth Veneman, a conservative who is challenging fellow Republican Clark County Councilor Julie Olson. Here’s what he had to say:

A candidate for county council, Elisabeth Veneman was a guest at the fair and came by the Clark County Republican Party booth with her family. We have her sign at the booth and were happy to have her stop by. However, it has come to my attention that her husband Kalup Veneman who was with her and their family gave the impression to many he was representing the party at the booth and made many disparaging comments about another Republican, Julie Olsen (sic), who the incumbent running for the same position. It has also been brought up that he was heard making false and disparaging comments about our US Congresswoman. It appears the Mr. Veneman stayed at the booth for several hours and these inappropriate actions continued for some time.

Gellatly wrote that he received several complaints about the event and felt it was necessary to send out the email. He also apologized for the incident and to Olson. He also wrote that it “certainly does not represent our party nor the team of volunteers giving their time to run the booth.”

I reached out Veneman who disputed Gellatly’s account. In an email (Veneman never wants to talk on the phone. Maybe she has some phobia about talking on the phone), disputed Gellatly’s account. She said in the email that she was at the fair to talk to voters and hand out literature. She wrote that she suspects the dust-up occurred because literature from the Republicans of Clark County PAC, a political committee separate from the county party, that endorsed Olson had been distributed at the booth.

“Unfortunately Chairman Gellatly was given false information from my opponents supporters who were there at the booth the same time my family and I were,” she said.

She said that the presence of the literature misrepresented an endorsement by the party. She also said it violated the party’s bylaws.

Gellatly responded with another email (no one talks on the phone anymore) suggesting the presence of the literature might be part of a deeper plot:

The PAC literature only showed up at the same time as the Venemans. I have asked and have complete faith that no volunteers brought it. As it appeared along at the same time as the Venemans, then Kalup Veneman took photos of the literature and they were provided to members of our party to create a false narrative, I can only guess who put it there. But find the whole situation concerning. When I found out about the literature, I ensured it was immediately removed as it does not represent our party.

Gellatly also wrote that Kalup Veneman was told not to return to the party’s booth.

This isn’t the first time this year Republican Party drama has seeped into summertime events. In July, Veneman said she was heckled while trying to order pizza during the Ridgefield Fourth of July parade.

Update:

After this post was published, I got a call from Kalup Veneman disputing that he placed the literature at the fair booth. Elisabeth Veneman also sent another email:

I am once again very disappointed in Chairman Gellatly. I would have hoped that someone in his position would not have resorted to such dishonesty.

Chairman Gellatly‘s new story that my husband and I had something to do with the PAC literature is a complete and total falsehood.The PAC literature was already on the table at the fair when we showed up on Saturday. It doesn’t stand to reason that we would take part in sharing material which promotes my opponent and we are flabbergasted at the very notion of it. We spoke to another concerned Republican who said he saw it there on Friday.

I also want to let you know that Chairman Gellatly only sent a text message to Kalup the following day, threatening that if we return to the fair he will call security, an interesting notion since he communicated with Kalup multiple times the day before and nothing negative was said. Kalup did have to let him know that my sign was repeatedly being removed and asked that he please direct the volunteer removing it to put it back up so that I have representation at the fair booth. Again, nothing said about any comments or any threat of calling security. The threat came the following day once David Gellatly knew that the placement of PAC literature at the fair had been exposed.

I know my husband has reached out to you to clarify these facts and I hope that between the two of us you can sense how shocked we are by these falsehoods.

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