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V.I. Republican Party Getting Noticed Nationally For All The Wrong Reasons

john canegater

CHRISTIANSTED — A dispute over which Republican delegates from the Virgin Islands will be sent to the upcoming national convention has grown increasingly unruly.

National news organizations from the Washington Post to ABC News have covered the ongoing saga of new members of the party from Michigan publicly jockeying for positions as delegates to the national convention.

Some physical confrontations took place during a meeting of the Republican Territorial Committee on Saturday, which was held at a gun range that party chairman John Canegata owns and operates.

Dennis Lennox said that he used his cellphone to make a video of what he called the “uncivil and unbecoming conduct” of some people at Saturday’s meeting.

He accused disqualified delegate Gwendolyn Brady of throwing a cellphone at him shortly after he started recording. Brady, the island’s banking and insurance commissioner, did not return a message for comment.

Other members said that Brady was physically assaulted by another delegate and that police arrived after the incident, which is the latest in the fight over delegates. “It’s just turned into madness, total madness,” said Herbert Schoenbohm, the party’s former chairman and a committee member who was at the meeting.

Schoenbohm said that Canegata was carrying a gun and used an artillery shell for a gavel as he threatened to have people arrested if they didn’t leave after the meeting.

Canegata declined to comment except to say that the committee complied with party rules during the meeting. He was quoted in published reports as saying that he was carrying a concealed weapon and that he had forgotten his gavel.

The incident came just weeks after the territory’s Republican Party announced it was disqualifying six delegates chosen in March because they violated party rules.

Among those disqualified were Brady and John Yob, a political strategist from Michigan who wrote a book titled Chaos: The Outsider’s Guide to a Contested Republican National Convention.

The six disqualified delegates are uncommitted. Of the six alternates, four are uncommitted, one supports Sen. Ted Cruz and the other Donald Trump.

Saturday’s incident prompted Schoenbohm and other committee members to take a no-confidence against vote Canegata.

“The chairman is obviously going to ignore that,” Schoenbohm said. “The next steps are lawsuits.”

Brady, Yob and other delegates recently filed a lawsuit against Canegata accusing him of acting unilaterally when he disqualified them. Canegata called the lawsuit frivolous and an “act of desperation.” “The law of the land is clear: Republican Party rules -not courts – govern Republican Party procedure, according to established U.S. Supreme Court precedent,” he said in a recent statement.

John Yob

   John Yob of the V.I. Republican Party

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The Author

John McCarthy

John McCarthy

John McCarthy is primarily known for his investigative reporting on the U.S. Virgin Islands. A series of reports beginning in the 1990's revealed that there was everything from coliform bacteria to Cryptosporidium in locally-bottled St. Croix drinking water, according to a then-unpublished University of the Virgin Islands sampling. Another report, following Hurricane Hugo in 1989, cited a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) confidential overview that said that over 40 percent of the U.S. Virgin Islands public lives below the poverty line. The Virgin Islands Free Press is the only Caribbean news source to regularly incorporate the findings of U.S. Freedom of Information Act requests. John's articles have appeared in the BVI Beacon, St. Croix Avis, San Juan Star and Virgin Islands Daily News. He is the former news director of WSVI-TV Channel 8 on St. Croix.

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