Feb. 9 2010 07:05 PM

Hangin' with the local Grand Ol' Partiers


When elephants attack—each other.

As people do better, they start voting like Republicans—unless they have too much education and vote Democratic, which proves there can be too much of a good thing.'—Karl RoveLet's give credit where credit is due. The local Republican Party can: a) throw a bash, b) silence a room with a single “Shhhhh!” and c) eat its own.

It's Monday night at the posh-lite Town and Country Resort in Mission Valley, and some 400 of the party faithful have gathered for its monthly shindig. Young and old, suited and casual, these folks know how to put a dent in a no-host bar. Even so-called Tea Party members seemed to forgo their hallmark brew for something more intoxicating.

Perhaps that explained why party members were so chatty—and, in fact, downright cordial to party crashers like Spin Cycle and CityBeat reporter Dave Maass, who tagged along in search of Demon Sheep.

Admittedly, Spin Cycle dropped in on the festivities for a couple of reasons.

First, to check out the status of the self-proclaimed “Party of Ideas,” which, in the case of the local and state iterations of the GOP, have endured critiques of late—even from its own members—that turmoil, financial shenanigans and poor fundraising efforts reign supreme.

Second, Spin Cycle was intrigued when it received an unsigned e-mail announcing a press conference immediately following the event, during which “over a dozen” local and state Republican Party members would call for the “immediate resignation” of state party chair Ron Nehring and local GOP honcho Tony Krvaric over allegations, made by a former Nehring girlfriend, of physical abuse, intimidation and harassment.

The evening started off on a controversial note. In private, the county's Republican Party Central Committee voted 44-1 to boot 53rd Congressional District candidate Michael Crimmins, a retired Marine major, from the committee for unspecified “conduct unbecoming a Republican,” spokeswoman Jennifer Jacobs said after the closed session.

In a one-page statement issued minutes after the decision, the local GOP said Crimmins was “officially removed” as an ex-officio member of the Central Committee for “making racial and violent remarks against a fellow Central Committee member.” This followed, the release stated, an earlier “formal censure” of Crimmins for what was described as “inappropriate behavior.”

Approached after the private meeting, Crimmins appeared ready to speak to Spin Cycle about his removal until Union-Tribune reporter John Marelius drew near. “No comment,” Crimmins suddenly snapped as he headed toward the exit. Spin Cycle followed Crimmins out, but by then two resort security officers appeared to be escorting him into the night.

Subsequent efforts to reach Crimmins by phone and e-mail were unsuccessful. Spin Cycle also attempted to contact the target of the alleged racial remarks but did not hear back by press time.

Barry Baron, a Bay Park photographer who attended the GOP event, said the episode didn't surprise him. Speaking about Nehring and Krvaric, Baron said “these guys are good at bullying and manipulation—so good, in fact, that the entire system has become a travesty. The problems here go very deep.”

Not used to hearing a GOP member stray from the party line, Spin Cycle was intrigued. “Let's just say in this room right now,” Baron explained, “there are a lot of angry people and a lot of sheep. It would take hours to explain this stuff to you.”

Not having hours at the time, Spin Cycle asked Baron if he'd spoken to Crimmins about his ouster. “Yes, but I think he's trying to put his thoughts together. I can tell you those charges were fabricated.”

Much the same, Baron alleged, as the aforementioned press conference that never materialized. “There was never going to be a press conference,” he said, which, it turned out, was news to four reporters and a TV cameraman who had come to cover it.

A weekend story in the Sacramento Bee headlined “Controversy over leader roils California GOP” reported that Crimmins had sent an e-mail to party leaders questioning the behavior of Nehring and Krvaric—likely not a topic the two would like seen aired during a critical election year.

Crimmins, who's challenging Rep. Susan Davis for a second time, told the Bee that the allegations against him are “malicious” and “patently false.” The paper noted that the retired Marine had sent out an e-mail in late September accusing Krvaric and Nehring of behavior “atrociously abusive of their power.”

That was said to be a reference to allegations that Krvaric had applied pressure to the Sycuan Resort east of San Diego to dismiss Nehring's former partner, Michaelene Mansour, from her job as resort manager. Her employment ended there in October, according to her page on the Linkedin.com website.

In the anonymous e-mail announcing the press conference that wasn't, it assured that “evidence and documentation” of Nehring's alleged physical abuse of Mansour and Krvaric's “harassment of her supervisors” at Sycuan would be made available. Obviously, that didn't happen.

Krvaric told Spin Cycle that he would have no comment on the allegations or on Crimmins' removal. “The press release says all that needs to be said,” he said.

Nehring issued a statement after the Bee story hit the streets, saying in part, “This is witch-hunt politics at its worst from someone who has been censured and will eventually be expelled for making racist and violent remarks. He is not reflective of the Republican Party.”

Nehring, whose state GOP organization has been called “decrepit” even by such stalwart right-wing commentators as Michelle Malkin, added that “I have never assaulted anyone in my life and I deeply resent these libelous allegations. There are no legal charges, police or hospital reports that would corroborate these outrageous claims.”

For the local GOP, let's hope the allegations are just that. As spokesperson Jacobs noted in her press release, “The Republican Party of San Diego County has zero tolerance for racial, discriminatory, harassing and other inappropriate behavior by anyone, least of all a member of its own Central Committee.”

Yep, Republicans sure know how to throw a party!    Got a tip? Send it to johnl@sdcitybeat.com.


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