It’s only August and this election season in Pittsylvania County is already getting wacky thanks to the Scearce/Warren Team aka “Clown Show.” For the past three weeks, Supervisor Scearce has gone wild on Facebook, making nonstop posting smearing people he considers to be his enemies and making allegations against fire and rescue volunteer agencies, which he seems to have held a grudge against ever since the last election.
Remember days before the last election, at a Fire and Rescue Commission meeting, he demanded that the commission members vote for Scearce/Warren team members and then got angry when one of them objected to that demand. Well, he knows, after all of his endless rages against them, that few fire and rescue volunteers will support him this year, so he made a post last week claiming that there are state investigations into them and reports, he ranted, that “detail things like drug mishandling to kidnapping.” “My goal,” Mr. Scearce said, “is to try to bring some level of accountability to the people of this county! Some of the results of these investigations include a loss of certification to one offender being banned from SOVAH property!”
He also talked up his theme of audits and “accountability.”
After several people commented on one of his Facebook posts demanding proof for some of his claims he smeared someone he knows, whom had a big Scearce sign on his property and then allowed Ingram and Murray signs to go up on it too, by leaking a document with their name in it, as if that was proof of all of his crazy accusations.
Coincidence or bullying?
Last month, when I did a FOIA request with the county about something Mr. Scearce was doing the request was forwarded to him by county staff. Before they could reply to my request, he took it upon himself to do it himself and splashed it on his Facebook page with his own county information. He blacked out parts of the material with the names of people he did not want to see, while putting my address and phone number on it for everyone to see. Mr. Scearce has a history of trying to bully and intimidate people with his Facebook page. Everyone saw the lies he posted about Joe Cubas last year. I hope what he did will not deter others from making FOIA requests with the county.
Supervisor Scearce drags the county down with his antics, while the other Scearce/Warren team candidates remain silent, hoping to benefit from the chaos he creates. Bob Warren has shown who he is supporting the most by putting signs up for Scearce, Harris, and Bowman on his property. When the latter two in turn say nothing critical of Warren or Scearce, they demonstrate that they either approve of everything they have done and currently are doing, or if they privately don’t, then think it is just more important for themselves to just be a part of their team to get elected, which means they are willing to normalize their behavior, while others in the community speak out in opposition or run against them.
It’s all about being in the group. Ken Bowman had an event at the Tuscarora Country club last month for his election campaign and he had Bob Warren speak there to endorse him. You can look at the pictures and see Mr. Warren and Scearce sitting together in one of them and Warren palling around Angie Harris for Clerk of Circuit Court in another one, with a big smile on his face. She has never said a negative thing about Mr. Warren or Scearce that I know of.
If you want things in the county to be like they have been the past few years, with the Scearce/Warren team, then you can see who to vote for.
One of Mr. Scearce’s constant targets, of course, is Supervisor Vic Ingram and Mr. Scearce is now supporting Josh Austin against him. Mr. Austin has publicly thanked him for that support, turning himself into a candidate for the Scearce/Warren Team in return.
Integrity and accountability are words that Mr. Scearce uses all the time in explaining the reason behind the attacks he makes on other people. What has been happening, is that Supervisors Ronald Scearce and Bob Warren have been campaigning hard for the candidates that they want to win in November and are resorting to desperate tactics, because they themselves are so unpopular. There was an attempt by several candidates to try to change the local Republican Party, for the better, by running at its May mass meeting to be listed on the Republican ticket in November, but they lost out to the people that Scearce and Warren are supporting, and Mr. Scearce himself won by two votes. He tried to use that fact to turn a technicality into a defacto public rebuke of the candidates that are now competitors of the Scearce/Warren Team in November. It’s a classic Scearce tactic, reminding you of the way Bob Warren, when he was BOS Chairman, got Supervisor Vic Ingram censured for nonsense before the last election. Scearce got his attack made into a story that made the front page headline for the local Chatham Star-Tribune last month.
FOUR NEW COUNTY HEROES EMERGE
This headline makes it look like these people did something wrong, but if you read the article Republican Party Chairman William Pace explains that these four people were automatically removed from the Pittsylvania County Republican Committee after they lost at the mass meeting, because they are still running as independents in November, against the winners of the mass meeting, so they are now taking on the county Republican Party ticket. It’s a simple automatic procedure. Murray Whittle, who is running against Scearce told the newspaper that “I am not a member of the Pittsylvania County Republican Committee, but I am a conservative and support the Republican Party….I want to give the people of the Westover District another option to represent them … There are thousands of people like me in the county that are conservative Republicans and not in the committee.”
The committee, which meets in Chatham, has like sixty people in it. Frank Fox told the paper that he was trying to win at the mass meeting to “return relevancy” to the committee, because all of it’s local candidates got wiped out in the 2021 election. They were all Scearce/Warren Team members. Fox’s goal was to win at the mass meeting and actually help the committee attract more members and grow as a result. Now he is working to win in November.
Frank Fox is running in the Chatham Blair’s District for Supervisor, while Jarrett Stone and Jennifer Wyatt are both running for Clerk of Circuit Court. Along with Mr. Whittle, I actually consider these people to now be four new heroes in the county. All are running clean campaigns. They went up against the Scearce/Warren machine and may have lost one battle in May, but none of them have given up their fight against that gang of clowns. Mrs. Wyatt’s campaign slogan is “Armed With Integrity” and I think it’s fair to say that her campaign shows that those words mean something to her.
To Mr. Scearce, though, these four people have no integrity, because they had to sign a pledge before the mass meeting saying they would support the Republican nominees as a condition to even participate in the meeting. However, at the end of the newspaper article, Pace actually invites Stone and Wyatt to rejoin the committee no matter what happens in the November election. I actually wonder if part of Scearce’s deal here is for this to also serve as a message to the entire Republican Committee that Scearce is really the boss and all Republican candidates better toe his line!
Ironically, back in 2013, Mr. Scearce wrote an editorial in the Danville Register & Bee in which he supported Mary Martin instead of Republican Danny Marshall in the House of Delegates race that year.
FYI – Martin only got 681 votes that year, while Danny Marshall received 12,336 votes.
More importantly, if Mr. Scearce could endorse and vote for someone that wasn’t on the Republican ticket that year than every single conservative in Pittsylvania County can do the same thing this year too in order to get rid of the clown show that is making the county look like a joke. Is there any other county in the country where supervisors smear individual fire and rescue volunteers on Facebook? All they have to do is get new people on the Board of Supervisors and reject the entire local Republican ticket made of Scearce/Warren Team members. As I have already said, so far, not a single one of the local Republican candidates has objected to anything that Mr. Scearce has said or written this year, so simply based on that fact alone they deserve no one’s support, but there are positive aspects to the candidates that are running as independents this year too that makes them worth voting for anyway.
There simply are plenty of people with real integrity running this year in the county with clean campaigns.
IMPROPER CAMPAIGN FINANCE FORMS REVEAL A BIG MONEY ISSUE
And for another irony, one of the candidates running with Scearce on the Republican ticket has filed improper campaign finance reports that do not account for all of the money that they have raised for their campaign. I’m writing about Angie Harris who is running for Clerk of Circuit Court. You can find all of her campaign finance forms with this link to examine them yourself.
As I publish this there are three reports that have been filed for her campaign, with the last one filed on 7/17/2023 for the period ending on 6/30/2023.
The reports list that a total of $4,800 has been raised by her campaign committee at the close of the last filing period.
The filings list $800 of that $4,800 as being listed as “Un-itimized cash contributions [$100] or less. The rest of the $4,800 is accounted for on the reports under “Schedule A,” which lists their amount and the person or organization from which they come from.
Campaign finance laws are in place in order to provide full transparency of political campaigns for everyone.
However, Angie has also raised $1,770 online through a GoFundMe page. All but $25 of this was done before 6/30/2023, so we are looking at $1,745 that is of concern and this money has not been accurately accounted for on her reports – if at all.
Several of the donations she received via GoFundMe are listed as anonymous – so you cannot tell who these people are or if the donations are on the forms.
None of the donations with names listed on her GoFundMe are listed on her campaign finance reports either.
All money donations over $100 are supposed to be listed in Section A of the campaign finance reports. That’s on the first page of this link. For the filing for the period of 1/18/2023 to 3/31/2023 a $500 Millicent Adkins GoFundMe donation made during that time period does not appear in the report – or any other filing period for that matter. The other $500 GoFundMe donation is anonymous and you cannot tell if it is in the filings or not.
A simple look at the GoFundMe donations for the first filing period before April shows a lot of donations that should be accounted for on her finance filing and are not.
There are twelve donations of $100 or less, totaling $695.00. They should be included in line 3 of this form and are not.
As you can see only five contributions are listed when there were twelve GoFundMe contributions of $100 or less in this time period. The total on this form is also less than the $695 raised on GoFundMe from those twelve donations. That makes for seven contributions not listed on the form. One of these is a $50 anonymous donation so it could be from the same person as one of the others and possibly should be listed on Section A, if that is the case. Either way, that would still make for at least six missing contributions and an incorrect total amount for item 3 on the form.
LISTED HARRIS CAMPAIGN END CLOSING BALANCE IS NOT CORRECT
The end closing balance on the finance filings cannot be correct.
Let me explain why.
If you go to a store and buy an item for $10 when they ring it up at the cash register it costs you more than $10, because of taxes.
GoFundMe charges fees for every single transaction that gets deducted from every donation.
Those fees are 2.9% of the money donated and $0.30 for each transaction.
That’s how GoFundMe generates revenue for itself and it’s website describes how they work.
For example, when a $100 donation is transferred to your bank account you’d actually get $96.80 after the fees are taken out.
So, if that Millicent Adkins donation for $500 was deposited into the Harris campaign bank account it would actually receive $485.20 for it after being charged the $14.80 GoFundMe transaction fee. The fees for the twelve other donations, mentioned previously, in the same period of time that the Millicent Adkins donation was made are not factored into that filing either. So, the ending balance on that filing is not correct.
These GoFundMe fees are not listed for or accounted for on any of the other Harris campaign finance filings either.
This makes it so that the ending account balance on any of the campaign forms, including it’s last one, cannot be correct too.
This is a big mess to say the least.
What Angie Harris is doing, though, is not fair to any of the other candidates that are running for Circuit Court Clerk in Pittsylvania County, because none of them have done anything like this in regards to their campaign finances.
All are running clean campaigns with a full accounting of their donations on their filings for total transparency.
However, it is difficult for them to speak out or file a report with the Registrar to do something about this in fear of blow-back they might get.
The big irony is that, while Mr. Scearce and his brother spent last year trying to create a hysteria over the accounting of private fire and rescue agencies, with no evidence, and claiming that all he cares about is accountability, the Harris campaign has also improperly listed her expenses on several of its campaign finance reports.
For example, this is a list of her expenditures on her latest campaign finance filing.
Notice how the person or company paid is the same as the person authorizing the expenditure on this report.
The person authorizing the expenditure should be someone affiliated with the campaign committee and not the company being paid.
In the campaign filing preceding this one she correctly listed the name of the person authorizing the expenditures, but listed herself as the person being paid for the expenditures.
That may be a minor mistake, and is not as serious as a campaign finance violation as the other problems. I think that someone who is running for Clerk of Circuit Court should be expected to be able to submit proper campaign finance reports, which accurately record their donations, because filing of records, attention to detail and strict professionalism should be expected in the functioning of that office. Thankfully, it has been so far, with the county having a history of exceptional people in that office.
With signs using the phrase “For Clerk of Court Vote Experience,” Mrs. Harris has campaigned by implying that she has the most experience of any other candidate for that position, citing the fact that she has worked for over thirty years for multiple judges, currently as a judicial assistant for Judge Stacey Moreau for the past fifteen years, adjacent to the clerk’s office. But, that is not the same thing as working in the actual clerk’s office, even if the signs can make people think she has been doing that. This may be why Heidi Jone’s signs have the words “The Right Experience” on them. She is also running for Clerk of Circuit Court and has been working as the deputy clerk in the Pittsylvania County Clerk of Circuit Court’s office for the past seven years.
I have been supporting Jarrett Stone, because out of all of the November candidates for Clerk of Circuit Court he has the most leadership/management experience of any of the other candidates. He left the county Sheriff’s department as a Sergeant, where he held a supervisory position for fifteen out of his twenty years of service to it, with integrity and professionalism. This is important, because the next Clerk of Circuit Court will be managing and overseeing a staff of people under them in order to run that office. The outgoing Clerk of Circuit Court had an over twenty year career with the Virginia State Police before he got elected to that position.
I have donated time and money to a couple of the people running for the Board of Supervisors and have worked closely with Mr. Stone on his campaign to support him. He has told people that I’m his “campaign manager.” That’s a word without a clear definition and in reality he is the one running his campaign and doing all the work. What I have done is given him advice from time to time on it. Sometimes the advice is good and sometimes he figures out one of my ideas isn’t such a good one and is wise enough to ignore it.
Last week, we met for several hours and discussed the situation with the Harris campaign finances and reporting and whether or not he should file a report about it to the Registrar – not an easy decision – and there is so much going on in the county to factor into it.
There is the potential retaliation he could take for filing a report, ranging from a baseless rumor campaign of personal attacks to public bullying from Ron Scearce on his Facebook page.
There is also the problem that no one else is likely to do a thing about it in fear of that fact.
There is also a situation going on in the county in which many have expressed serious doubts about the functioning of the Electoral Board.
The Electoral Board is currently composed of two members of the Republican Committee and a member of the Democratic Committee.
There was an Electoral Board meeting that broke down into what was reported to be accusations of improper meetings and minutes of meetings not being recorded correctly, looking like more unusual business as usual in the county. It all made a July issue of the Chatham Star-Tribune in a lengthy seven page article, after which the Electoral Board appointed a new Registrar, who had been an aide to a Republican member of the State Legislature over the objection of the Democrat member of the Electoral Board.
That led to charges by Roy Ford, the head of the county Democratic Party Committee, that “vigilantes” now control the elections in the county. I believe Mr. Ford is a credible person and believe him when he says that the Electoral Board has not functioned properly in how it has generated the minutes of its meetings. However, Republican Chairman William Pace wrote a rebuttal editorial in the Chatham newspaper last week and I believe he is correct in it when he writes that no one can deny that the new Registrar “Ms. Shorter is highly qualified for this position.” I believe she is a highly competent and honest person and have no reason to think that she or the rest of the staff in the Registrar’s office will act in an improper manner. So, I also agree with Pace that there is no evidence that what the Electoral Board did is part of a scheme to undermine the elections.
I believe the system still works.
As you can see, though, there is more at stake than just the campaigns of Mrs. Harris or Mr. Stone in this issue.
I came to believe that if Mr. Stone were to file a valid report against one of the local Republican Scearce/Warren Team ticket political candidates it could serve as a test of the system for every single voter in the county.
After our talk he decided to do just that.
He concluded that it’s the right thing to do and that’s what real integrity is about.
If you are like me and want to help new people win this November to get rid of the Scearce/Warren team and believe that Jarrett Stone would be a great Circuit Court Clerk then you might want to get one of his signs to put in your yard. You can get one for free by simply emailing his campaign at email@example.com.
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Note: updated 8/14 with info on the issues of GoFundMe fees and the small six or seven GoFundMe donations.