ST. CROIX — The local Republican party, following the wins of John P. Yob, Gwen Brady, Warren B. Cole, Erica L. Yob, George Logan and Lindsey Eilon at the local caucus in March, has been in flux. Since then, there have been lawsuits to try and unseat the victors, back-and-forth about party rules, and overall chaos that has embarrassed the local GOP on major U.S. broadcasts like MSNBC.
The latest showdown, however, was said to have turned violent. During a Territorial Committee meeting held at party Chairman John Canegata’s shooting range in St. Croix on Saturday, committee Vice Chairman Herbert Schoenbohm, through an email sent to The Consortium on Saturday evening, said the meeting “abruptly ended with an elected delegate and senior citizen woman being slammed against the wall and thrown to the floor because she objected to the gestapo-like tactics of the VI Chairman John Canegata.” Mr. Schoenbohm was referring to Ms. Brady as the victim, and Fred Espinosa as the person who assaulted her. Mr. Schoenbohm said Ms. Brady was visibly shaken and was crying following the incident.
“Throughout the meeting the chairman refused to follow proper procedure and when the member objected a [Ted] Cruz volunteer that was at the meeting, at the behest of the chairman, put a cellphone camera in her face,” Mr. Schoenbohm said. He added that following Mrs. Brady’s objection to having the cellphone in her face, she was “subsequently thrown to the ground by an ardent supporter of the chairman. The chairman, who was armed with a semi-automatic large caliber piston, ordered everyone out of the meeting room and threatened all that opposed him with trespass if they didn’t leave his private property,” Mr. Schoenbohm said.
A press release following the meeting issued by Mr. Canegata made no reference to the violent nature of the meeting. The release only stated that three vacancies were filled.
““We are focused on growing the GOP across the islands and fighting to ensure a better, brighter future for our children and grandchildren,” said Mr. Canegata in the release. It listed the three persons appointed as Garfield Doran, Jevon Williams and David Johnson.
The Consortium spoke to former Senator Holland Redfield, who is a GOP superdelegate, about the matter. He confirmed that Ms. Brady had been assaulted and that Mr. Canegata allowed it to happen. “When I went to my car, I threw up,” Mr. Redfield said. “I’m so done with this nonsense.”
The assault on Ms. Brady occurred because Ms. Brady was pleading with Mr. Canegata to follow party rules, Mr. Redfield said. His account of the situation was corroborated by Mr. Schoenbohm, who said some members of the committee were forced to meet at a safer location to continue Saturday’s meeting.
“The majority of us caucused in a quiet location on both islands after being threatened to leave Canegata’s private property, Mr. Schoenbohm wrote. “Most of us agree that the threats, intimidation, and physical violence — and the refusal for chairman Canegta to even follow our party’s by-laws, and not allow for any civil and political discourse, the party rules, Robert Rules, and the RNC Rules — makes any valid meeting problematical at best. Especially being held in his shooting gallery where he struts around like a petty tyrant with a firearm on his belt, while banging the table with large ammunition cartridge being used as a gavel. People are not used to a Republican meeting being in a combat zone and will avoid future meetings if something isn’t done about his lack of control,” Mr. Schoenbohm said.
After learning of the second meeting, Mr. Canegata issued another press release — this one coming on Sunday: “A rump of seven Territorial Committee members illegally held a meeting in clear violation of party rules following the adjournment of the lawfully noticed and lawfully conducted regular meeting of the Territorial Committee on Saturday morning,” wrote Mr. Canegta. “By convening and participating in this illegal meeting, the rump maliciously used the name and legal identity of both the Republican Party of the Virgin Islands and the Territorial Committee to perpetrate a gross fraud.”
Even so, Mr. Schoenbohm said that the committee moved to condemn Mr. Espinosa for attacking Ms. Brady; Mr. Canegata for not following the rules, and demanded the certification to the RNC of the winning delegates.