The CCR Chapter Charter Controversy
Eric Lendrum, Politics Contributor
After the previous two installments, there is yet another development in the race for control of the California College Republicans (CCR). Many chapters have pledged their support for the opposition slate, Rebuild CCR, which vows, among other things, to change the top-down order of running the state federation, work on a chapter-by-chapter basis, increase speaking events to one per month per chapter, and to establish better relations between chapters and local central committees. It is run by journalist and activist Ariana Rowlands, president of the College Republicans (CR) chapter at the University of California, Irvine.
Since the previous article’s publication, Rebuild has gained even more momentum by announcing two more candidates: Emma Bock from UCLA, for Activism Director, and Thomas Columbus from USC, for Treasurer. This marks a strengthening of Rebuild support in the crucial Los Angeles region; Rebuild already had announced a USC student, Jacob Ellenhorn, as its candidate for Executive Director, and the USC chapter, the chapter of Rowlands’s rival chair candidate Leesa Danzek, endorsed Rebuild instead of Danzek’s establishment slate, Thrive CCR. Additionally, Bock’s candidacy marks the first candidate for statewide board this year, on either slate, from the UCLA chapter (known as “Bruin Republicans”), one of the largest and most active chapters in the state.
Additionally, Rebuild set another campaign milestone for this year by announcing the endorsement of Fred Whitaker, Chairman of the Orange County Republican Party. This marks the first time that either slate has been endorsed by the chair of a local Republican Party.
Meanwhile, Thrive announced four more endorsements from elected officials. Three of them are from the California State Assembly: Travis Allen from the 72nd District, James Gallagher from the 3rd District, and Rocky Chavez from the 76th District. The fourth is Mayor Kevin Faulconer of San Diego. At the same time, the slate announced its first new CR chapter endorsement in two weeks: the new chapter at University of the Pacific. This brings the tally of chapter endorsements to 22 for Rebuild and 25 for Thrive.
However, there is yet another controversy arising in the race. The chapters loyal to Rebuild claim that they are being deliberately denied official chartered status with the federation, solely because of their intention to vote for Rebuild.
Vincent Wetzel is the president of the Orange Coast College Republicans. Orange Coast College has recently made national headlines: after a student was suspended for secretly recording his professor’s anti-Donald Trump rant, the OCC Republicans stepped in to help his story go viral and fought to defend his free speech rights as a student.
Now Wetzel, speaking to The Millennial Review, says that his chapter is not being allowed to receive official charter recognition with the California Federation of College Republicans - which means, among other things, that his chapter won’t be allowed to cast votes in the CCR race in April, where they intend to vote in favor of Rebuild. Wetzel says that past approvals of official charter status have been done as quickly and unceremoniously as a simple consensus within a digital group chat among the current CCR board members. However, Wetzel says that incumbent Chairwoman Ivy Allen, a former student of Pepperdine University, responded to their request by saying that “chartering info will be sent out 30 days prior to CCR Convention.” Wetzel says that the OCC Republicans have already been sent that information via email and have screenshots proving it, thus accusing this response of being “a stall tactic.”
And this comes after the OCC chapter has been listed on the official California College Republicans website since August of 2015. Wetzel says the chapter has received from 200 to 300 signups over the last academic year alone, and although it has had only two meetings over the last semester, both meetings saw turnout of around 20 to 30 members. The OCC Republicans’ public Facebook page posted this claim in greater detail on February 23, accompanied by a video of Danzek giving a speech at a meeting of the Orange County GOP Central Committee, in which she praises the work of CR chapters at community colleges. However, Wetzel finds this to be insulting, considering the statewide board’s treatment of his chapter.
These claims were later echoed by the College Republicans chapter at another community college, Saddleback College, in a Facebook post on February 25. The post contains a letter put out by the Saddleback CR’s executive board, declaring that they, too, have sent three different requests for charter status since mid-January, and all three received no responses from Allen. She only responded after Rowlands herself emailed her, and Allen gave the same response that she gave to the OCC chapter. The letter claims that, besides themselves and OCC, three other chapters have faced this treatment as well: Cal State University Fullerton, Cal State University Maritime Academy, and University of Redlands - all of which have endorsed Rebuild. Meanwhile, the letter says that at least one chapter in support of Thrive, Palo Verde College, was approved during the same time period.
The founder of the Palo Verde chapter, David Clark Pingree - who is running with Thrive as the candidate for Activism Director - later responded to the claim, with his reasoning being that he was referring to “chartered” status with the university, not the California Federation of College Republicans.
CCR responded to these allegations at the California Republican Party convention, held in Sacramento the same weekend as CPAC. They issued a “Frequently Asked Questions” (FAQ)-style list addressing the concerns with certain chapters’ chartered status. Specifically, they claim that “no chapter has been ‘chartered,’” and that “chartering will be due 30 days before the annual Spring CCR Convention.”
However, the first point alleging that “no chapter has been ‘chartered’” seems to conflict directly with the CCR Constitution, Article X, Section 1, which says that “a charter shall last until the next Annual Convention.”
Meanwhile, Rowlands claims that the “30 days” deadline to submit the necessary paperwork directly conflicts with the previous instruction that “chartering information will be sent out 30 days before the convention,” as this would mean that the information would be sent, and expected to be returned, on the same day. This, Rowlands says, could potentially make it even harder for chapters to submit the paperwork right on time.
The Millennial Review has reached out to Danzek and Allen for comment concerning this issue, but neither of them have responded.
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