Julie C. Lucas, Gill's rival for the nomination, said the transaction startled her. "I don't think the chairman should be paid by any campaign," said Lucas, a county School Board member.
Lucas, however, said she met with Kopko on Jan. 4 to tell him she was "seriously considering" running and that he seemed open to primaries. "He asked me what I wanted, and I told him I preferred a primary," Lucas said. "He said, 'I'm open to discussing all the options.' He never said, 'I am only going to do a convention.' "
The article also gave time to Lucy Beauchamp's complaints, but otherwise only quoted one other person who agreed with Julie, the head of the Prince William DEMOCRATIC committee:
Peter Frisbie, chairman of the Prince William County Democratic Committee, said Kopko's paid work for Gill is "unheard of" for party chairmen. "You have to treat everyone fairly equally no matter what," Frisbie said, "because he selects the nominating process."
The charges of bias based on the payment for services was a topic of conversation at the PWCRC meeting last Monday. According to reports, Lucas did not raise issues at that meeting. Her campaign representative, Karen Ulrich, tried to explain their silence in a post to BVBL:
I was shocked by this news and immediately tried to contact Tom to discuss this matter with him. I would like to point out, one campaign knew about the money given to our chairman for three months, Julie Lucas’s campaign had less than 24 hours before the PWCRC meeting last night to try to figure out what had happened and what the possible ramifications would be.
Tom informed the committee last night of his “contracted” work with one of the candidates, which he said had occurred months ago. He said he would meet with both campaigns to discuss whatever problems this may have caused. We will meet with our chairman and the other campaign.
Julie Lucas’s campaign believes the nomination process is very serious and should be handled with honesty, integrity and full disclosure. We did not want to react to this confusing situation without first examining the rules and regulations governing this process and giving our chairman the opportunity to meet with us and explain.
Apparently, after this was released, the campaign decided to go to the Washington Post with charges that everybody knows are silly.
In response to these public charges, Tom Kopko sent an e-mail to the entire committee, under his own signature, detailing his point of view on the matter, and stating in part:
on January 4th Julie (Lucas) argued for a primary specifically so that Democrats could be included. She said they were her base, given her current seat.
(Julie Lucas) told me, and many others, throughout January that she had so many offices to consider that she just couldn’t make up her mind. As late as Jan. 25 she told a women’s group that she still hadn’t made up her mind. The fact is, Julie’s decision was in the air all the way up until she submitted her filing just 4 hours before the deadline on January 29.
I also rejected her (Julie's) further argument on Jan. 4 that the candidate that can win an (open) primary is best suited to win the general election. I saw that as a veiled argument for Democrats. It also argues that Democrats would improve the outcome of the Republican primary.
I was open to the possibility of a closed primary, which was under consideration in Virginia courts at the time, if it materialized. (It didn’t. Federal courts stayed the possibility in mid-January).
Julie and I talked for a long time that night about the great difficulties the state would have in closing primaries to just party members, whatever that means in Virginia.
I also said that if both candidates agreed on a primary I might consider it then, but probably would still call a convention.
I held off for weeks in January on issuing the call as I waited for her to make a decision. I accommodated her indecision - she even thanked me for my patience on the 18th
after they filed, I immediately reached out to both candidates to ask for suggested convention chairmen and committee leaders and workers, per usual convention practice. The idea is to have equal numbers of workers from each campaign, an agreed Convention Chairman, and agreed chairmen of the various convention committees.
I have no trouble believing that Tom is accurately reporting the situation as he perceived it.
Further, what Tom says is not in opposition to what Julie claimed as a matter of fact. For example, Julie says Tom was open to a primary. Tom says he was open to a "closed primary".
Both say that they had a conversation on the 4th.
Julie never says she told Tom she was definitely running, and never says she told him what she would be running for. Tom says she wasn't sure she was running, or what she was running for.
However, if Julie Lucas has any issue with what Tom said, she has to send her own e-mail, with her own signature, to give her side of the story. Tom was willing to put his reputation, his name, on his version. Julie cannot stand behind campaign staffers or her blogger hit-squad on this one. If she has a complaint, it's time she spoke to the republican committee directly, rather than encouraging the smear-and-burn campaign at BVBL, or talking to reporters for the Washington Post.
I consider her consider her statements to the Washington post to be a disservice to the committee, and disrespectful to all of us in the Committee, many who have worked for years for republican causes, and deserve to be addressed directly with complaints, not to have to read them in the Washington Post.
I don't have Julie's e-mail, but if any of her supporters read this, tell her to send out an e-mail or put a response here. We would love to hear from her.
UPDATE May 7: Now that Julie has sent out a response, I have sent her an e-mail and she has responded. Based on her response, my criticism should be tempered. I didn't get permission to quote from her private e-mail to me, but my sense is that the reporter dictated the content of the article to a large degree, and Julie did say some of what I thought she should have said, but the reporter didn't include it in the article.
I appreciate Julie taking the time to write to me, and wanted to acknowledge that in my post.