FRONT ROYAL — The Warren County Republican Committee’s Treasurer and Vice Chairman Amber Morris said after a Thursday GOP meeting that while Supervisor Tom Sayre will remain the party’s nominee in the November election, not all members support him.
“So it’s a party divided,” she said.
Morris said she attempted to censure Sayre after he became one of the 14 county officials indicted on counts of misfeasance and nonfeasance. Morris said that would have required a two-thirds vote by the committee, an amount that could not be reached. She added that the motion would have also proposed censuring other Republican-endorsed Supervisors Tony Carter and Archie Fox, who were also indicted on the same charges, neither of whom are up for re-election in November.
Had the attempt to censure Sayre been successful, Morris said the party would have no longer financially backed him through marketing efforts such as mailing lists, fliers and events. She added that he would have remained the party’s candidate because the nomination cannot be rescinded.
GOP Chairman Steve Kurtz said that since the party cannot change the nominee “the only thing we can do is move forward.” He added although it is unfortunate Sayre was charged just before an election, “we’ve got to let this play out, we really do.”
Sayre said that he did not know of the attempts to censure him.
“Nobody ever called me...never heard of it,” he said.
Sayre said there were probably “two or three people” who wanted to do that and pointed in the direction of Morris and fellow Republican nominees for the Board of Supervisors Delores Oates and Robert Hupman.
In a recent news release, Oates called for every supervisor — all of whom have been indicted on the same charges as Sayre — to resign immediately “until such time that their names are cleared by a jury of their peers.” Although they are all innocent until proven guilty, she stated that “the cloud over our government institutions and our citizens can only be lifted if those indicted do the honorable thing and resign.”
Morris said that there are no candidates who would want to go “door knocking” alongside Sayre. She noted that the GOP-nominated candidate in the commonwealth’s attorney race, John Bell, “can’t door knock with somebody that has three indictments.”
Sayre responded that “I usually go door to door on my own and I have plenty of people who have offered to campaign for me.” Regarding Morris, he added: “I expect no less from someone who has been working against me behind my back.”
Morris said the “respectable and honorable thing” for Sayre to do is follow the actions of former Mayor Hollis Tharpe, who resigned from office after being charged on a misdemeanor count of prostitution solicitation, a case that was dropped.
Morris said it is not fair for fellow GOP nominees to be associated with Sayre, whether he is guilty or innocent, and that he should not “drag the party and county” through legal proceedings.
Sayre spoke before the Republicans during the meeting to offer his resignation as the GOP’s vice chairman, saying he does not want his situation to reflect negatively on the committee.
“The only thing I don’t want this to look like is like I’m saying I’m guilty of something. I’m totally innocent and I am very, very, very confident that I’m going to be able to prove it,” he said.
Sayre noted that of Jesus’ 12 disciples, one betrayed him, 10 disappeared and only one remained by his side. Sayre said that is “human nature” and some people do not have a “political spine” to stay supportive during tough times.
He went on to note all of the good he has done for the pro-life movement. He added that as a lawyer, none of his clients lost a case and he always fought for them until the end.
Sayre added that he won a defamation lawsuit against former Front Royal-Warren County Economic Development Authority Executive Director Jennifer McDonald, who has been charged on 28 felony counts relating to financial improprieties during her tenure with the authority. He said this may be the only time anyone has won a defamation case in the county.
When ruling in Sayre’s favor, Judge Ian Williams said it became clear throughout hearings that McDonald attempted to frame Sayre for a crime to deflect questions regarding EDA projects.
His three indictments relate to a lack of oversight of McDonald.
“I won that and she didn’t appeal it and things were going real good and then of course, you know, the elephant in the room so to speak came up,” he said.
After announcing his resignation as vice chairman, applause broke out from the committee’s members. Morris was later nominated as his replacement.