by Don Barnett and Ira Weiss
If The Williamson County Republican Party (WCRP) succeeds in its plans, by the close of its next meeting it will have removed or otherwise run off the majority of its elected members. Of the 8 WCRP board members who were elected, 4 have resigned or been forced out since April 2021.
As planned, the last remaining conservative, First Vice Chair Sean Raesemann will be removed from office to be replaced by someone of the chairwoman’s own choosing. That someone will make it easier for the chair to run her own show. Considering what has already been achieved by this chair, it could be some show.
WCRP Bylaws (ratified in 2019), Article V, Section 7, Paragraph C defines the Treasurer’s responsibilities and indicates any expense over $2,000 must be approved by the entire Executive Committee. The intent was to exercise due diligence in expending donor funds. Unlike every prior WCRP chairperson in living memory, the current chairperson, Cheryl Brown, can direct funds under this threshold without Executive Committee oversight with the signature of a hand-picked officer. This is an entirely inappropriate accounting practice for an organization that depends on donations from the public. Thus, we get a county chairperson with a personal security detail and the occasional use of a paid driver. The party paid a private security company, Pale Horse, $4,270 between 2020 and March 2022 according to the WCRP’s TN PAC report. The party voted itself top line insurance coverage for its officers with an annual cost of $8,600 – more than 10 times the cost of insurance plans used by neighboring county parties (See payment made by WCRP on August 3, 2021 to an insurance agency).
The PAC report shows checks written to individuals with no explanation of affiliation or the services or items purchased.
Individual Republicans who donated this money should be angry at the lack of transparency around how their money is spent. It will get worse if Mr. Raesemann is removed. For instance, this year the chair wanted to support the annual Juneteenth commemoration by purchasing a membership in an activist group. The party has supported Juneteenth in past years. But this time the recipient was to be an organization that was shown to have connections to BLM. That request needed to be stopped and it was thanks to Mr. Raesemann. (See last paragraph, page 2, of the Minutes of the May 2021 WCRP Regular Meeting.)
Next time around there may not be anyone to question the absurd demand that the Republican Party support a BLM-affiliated outfit.
The current WCRP board insists on freezing out certain Republican candidates in discussion forums when it should be encouraging debate so that the electorate can make an informed choice. No wonder a range of conservative political groups has spontaneously grown up in Williamson County. The county party risks losing its relevance as a representative of conservative values. The way it handles its members’ contributions is appalling and needs to be investigated before it explodes into a scandal that embarrasses the entire state.
[Editor’s Note: This commentary has been updated to include details of the current WCRP bylaws that govern the process by which expenditures –those in excess of $2,000 as well as those under $2,000–are authorized.]
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Don Barnett is a retired IT professional and freelance writer living in Williamson County. Mr. Barnett is a former WCRP First Vice Chair. Ira Weiss is a retired security executive with 28 years of experience servicing U.S. government agencies, DoD, foreign governments, high-profile corporate, commercial and industrial clients, and property management companies. Certified Protection Professional (CPP-ASIS), Certified Master Anti-Terrorism Specialist (CMAS – ATAB), Analytical Risk Management Certified, NRA Certified Instructor, Jurisdictional Threat and Hazard Identification and Risk Assessment Certified who migrated from the Washington, DC area.
Photo “Cheryl Brown” and Background Photo “Williamson County Republican Party Board Members Meeting” by Williamson County Republican Party.