by Jack Breibart
Reform Party faction booted out of
office in a rowdy and controversial party meeting in Nashville last
Saturday has returned $2.5 million to the Federal Election Commission and
asked the commission to decide who has legitimate rights to the funds, the
American Reporter has learned.
Treasurer Ronn Young, of the Virginia Reform Party, was in Washington today to give back the money awarded by the FEC last November to cover the party's election expenses and to ask for an investigation into the party.
The FEC could not be reached for comment.
Young, along with party chairman Jack Gargan, was voted out of office by a national committee dominated by the Ross Perot faction of the party and directed by former national chairman Russ Verney.
Gargan and Young were linked to the Jesse Ventura wing of the party.
Both claim the preceedings in Nashville which voted in Pat Choate as temporary chairman and Tom McLaughlin as treasurer violated Reform Party rules and therefore were not valid.
In a brief telephone interview with the American Reporter Feb. 16, Gargan said he has been advised by his legal counsel not to make any futher comments about the federal convention funds or Reform Party proceedings.
"I'm sorry, but I just can't say anything," he said.
The previous night Gargan had said, "Hell, no," when asked if he were going to turn over the funds to the officers elected in Nashville. He also indicated that his rivals in the party were contemplating legal action to recover the money.
Choate could not be reached for comment on the funds or the appeal to the FEC last week, but previously he had told the Associated Press that party lawyers were "on the case" of the money.
Reached on his cell phone by the American Reporter Feb. 15, Verney said he knew nothing about the request to the FEC but that he wasn't surprised.
"They do strange things," he said. "That's why they're not in office anymore."
On the Gargan supported web page (http://www.rpusa.org), Michael Foudy, a supporter of Gargan, wrote that Young was in Washington to request an "investigation into the attempted theft of the party and its money be launched."
Young has also filed suit in western Virginia against Verney and some of his administration for, among other complaints, "the willful, intentional and deliberate failure to relinquish Party records and other confidential or proprietary information to the newly-installed Party officers charged with their possession, thereby rendering the newly-installed Party officers incapable of performing their fiduciary and legal duties."
The party's presidential candidate, and not the party itself, will be given $12.6 million in federal funds for the 2000 election campaign.
Meanwhile, defections from the party were reported following the Nashville meeting.
In an e-mail to the American Reporter, Tom Johnson said, "Today is my last day as national public relations chair AND as a member of the Reform Party. After 8 years of hard work, I cannot stand to see the Reform Party become what I hoped to replace."
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