Chapman Charges Dropped

Remember Steve Chapman, the 27-year-old conservative who challenged Del. Harry Parrish, R-Manassas, for the Republican nomination… The guy who was indicted in the middle of the campaign for voter fraud, for allegedly lying about his address on the voter registration form?

Well, according to the Manassas Journal Messenger, the charges have been dropped.

Chapman was relieved but not surprised. “We’re excited,” he said, “but I always said these charges were trumped up.”

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  1. I was Harry Parrish’s campaign manager during the primary and I can say, unequivocally, that the campaign had absolutely nothing to do with the charges against Chapman other than reporting them when they came to our attention! The information itself came from Ed Wilbourne, Michael’s father (the “landlord”). I had, in fact, offered to resign from the campaign and report them myself but I was asked not to do so. The fact is, I had personal knowlege of other improprieties which I would have been happy to pass on to the investigators. For instance, I was asked to sign a BLANK petition for Chapman at a Republican County Committee meeting. It had no address, no jurisdiction, no information on it whatsoever, and it was questionable whether the person circulating it was even from the County, much less the District.

    Chapman and his dishonorable tactics and lies have managed to demean the entire political process, as well as the Republican Party, in Prince William County, and I can keep silent no longer. For the first time I, as a lifelong Republican and Conservative in the Commonwealth of Virginia, have felt ashamed to be a Republican or a Conservative!

  2. Jim Bacon Avatar

    AWCheney, Thank you for posting under your real name. That lends a lot more credibility to your assertions of what transpired.

  3. James Young Avatar
    James Young

    Anke, shame — like guilt — is only appropriate for one’s own actions. Therefore, I am not surprised that you feel ashamed.

  4. You make my point, Jim. There is no doubt in my mind that Dick Obenshain is spinning in his grave to see what passes as a conservative in the new millenium.

  5. James Young Avatar
    James Young

    I can’t tell if that’s a shot against me (if so, Oh, you wound me, Anke), or an expression of surprise that some people consider Harry a conservative notwithstanding his enthusiasm for tax increases. But your insight into Dick Obenshain is certainly fascinating.

    Your comment nevertheless fails to address the point that you were part of an effort to slander another Republican. Your candidate lied about his knowledge of it (your revelation of your offer to resign confirms that) and you suggest that the mere failure to fill out one (among many) petitions is somehow suspect.

    Like I said: Go with the feeling.

  6. Jim, perhaps you should contact me directly before you assume any facts not in evidence (which seems to be paramount among your ken). I did not offer my resignation to Harry directly, but to the man who hired me…the campaign consultant, Kenny Klinge…who has also been maligned by others involved in this situation. It was decided that Harry should not be apprised of Chapman’s antics until it actually became public…and the petition that I was offered was not the ONLY blank one being passed around that night.

    BTW, this is the last malicious comment to which I shall respond on this blog regarding this subject. I have more respect for the intelligence of the other bloggers here than you obviously do.

  7. Anonymous Avatar

    If you had questions about exactly who the person was circulating the petition in question, how can you be sure without any doubt that Chapman was at fault in that situation?

  8. James Young Avatar
    James Young

    Your last comment says that I assume a fact not in evidence. As Jim Riley rightly notes at TC, it would be highly unusual for a campaign manager to offer her resignation to anyone other than the candidate, so Jim’s (and my) assumption was certainly a reasonable surmise. That you offered it to Klinge does not reflect well on either Harry or Klinge, as the former seems to have been either disengaged or oblivious to the “antics” of his own operatives. I’m reminded of one GOP senator’s response to criticism that he had signed on to a bill a few years back. He said he hadn’t read it, and took his name off of it when criticized for it, demonstrating that he was either stupid for not understanding it, or lying about having not read it.

    And as for me, Anke, I’m more than happy to respond to you here. I have more respect for the intelligence of the other bloggers here than to let you get away with your careful evasions above, and I give Jim Riley credit for parsing them. It’s obvious that you didn’t sleep through the Clinton era.

  9. To “Anonymous”

    I was not exactly in a position to investigate it myself at the time.

  10. criticallythinking Avatar

    This is a rather fascinating discussion. But first, to be accurate the story says that only the felony charge was dropped — the misdemeanor charge of voting in the election has been carried over to March (I’m guessing someone knows what that really means).

    But given that the charge was dropped, it seems inaccurate for anybody to now say that they knew about this and other “improprieties” — since “this” apparently wasn’t an inpropriety.

    I’ve seen many petitions running around at committee meetings, and at debates, and other functions, and occasionally people have grabbed the next sheet in the pile and don’t know they have to fill out the information first, or be in the correct district. We aren’t all highly trained campaign managers.

    But MOST people, when confronted with what is most likely a simple lack of knowledge (after all, it was according to Anke at a committee meeting) would have politely pointed out the error and explained the law, rather than waiting to, what, spring it if necessary at a later date?

    If that seems like a charge I can’t back up, I will say that you just “sprung” it here in the comments about the charges being dropped, as if you needed some extra ammunition to make sure we still thought Steve was sleazy even though the particular charges weren’t taken to court.

    In other words, Harry Parrish won the nomination. And, like many predicted, the charge against Steve was dropped. And, in what to an relative outsider looks like a petty attempt to kick the man again, Anke shows up to defend the Parrish campaign involvement, and to spread more dirt about Steve, who at the moment is not a candidate for anything except a large legal bill incurred while preparing to fight the charge that has been “dropped”.

    That Anke thinks this puts him in a good light is kind of scary to me. The “look at how great we are, we had all sorts of dirt on the candidate that we never used” attitude is hardly appealing, especially when accompanied by the spreading of that dirt in a public forum.

    And I’ll add that Anke saying he offered his resignation so he could turn over the dirt himself is also a shocking revelation, regardless of who he went to. In fact, it shows that Anke thought it was important that the campaign not APPEAR to be involved.

    But worse, he says he offered his resignation to Kenny Klinge. Who didn’t accept the resignation, and who has acknowledged turning over the information himself.

    IN other words, if we assume that Anke really thought resigning was the APPROPRIATE thing to do before spreading dirt, then Klinge must be worse, because he didn’t think anybody should resign to do so. (I don’t think resigning would have made any difference, I’m just trying to understand why Anke thinks his offering to Resign, and the man who he offered it to rejecting the offer and then taking the dirt to the police himself, is somehow a sign of an above-board campaign).

    I am not trying to be malicious. My comments about this are what I think when I read what people have written. I don’t know what motives people have for what they do, and I am not trying to say that anybody had any particular motive — I’m addressing how what people do and say LOOKS to me.

    Also, Anke says that he had “personal knowlege of other improprieties which I would have been happy to pass on to the investigators”. And he said that he was willing to resign in order to pass on the one which has now been dismissed. So my question would be, what stopped Anke from doing what he says he would have been happy to do? Was it a conversation with Klinge? A meeting of the campaign? A talk from the candidate? Anke doesn’t say, but maybe he will enlighten us, so we can have all the facts.

    As to who it was who dug up the dirt, I think it’s telling that the person who had the dirt brought it to the campaign manager for the opposing candidate, instead of just calling the attorney with the information.

    Last thing. I don’t see what it means to say “we had nothing to do with the charges other than reporting them”. What else would you have done, planted the evidence? Made up the story?

    I would think that all a campaign could do without being unethical would be to report dirt on the opposition when it comes to their attention. I don’t think people were suggesting that the campaign conspired to set up Steve by having the son of a supporter offer him a room so they could later say he never used it.

    Here is what i guess we now know. Steve rented a room from Michael. Ed found out, and told someone in the Parrish campaign about it. It got at least as high as the campaign manager, who offered to resign and report it, but the campaign “consultant” turned down the offer, and instead took the information himself to the attorney (it seems odd that the campaign manager reports to the consultant). The attorney files charges through a grand jury, and then recuses himself. Months later, the serious charge is dropped, after the primary is over.

    And now the campaign manager is posting about knowledge of other “improprieties” which he also wanted to pass on but was apparently stopped by someone else, maybe in the campaign.

    I don’t expect people to agree with my opinion. But is there anything in the last two paragraphs that is not an accurate statement of the facts as they have been presented here?

    Charles R.

  11. Anonymous Avatar

    Charges are dropped against defendants ALL THE TIME. It DOESN’T mean that the charges are unfounded. It CAN mean that, but it doesn’t HAVE TO mean that.

    If the charges were COMPLETELY baseless, there never would have been an indictment – presuming the CA is not corrupt.

  12. criticallythinking Avatar

    Anon, don’t start with the “indictments prove SOMETHING was amiss” type arguments.

    Chapman has consistantly said the charges were baseless, and that he would prove that in court.

    The prosecuter just took his chance to do so away, by dropping the charges — which means that the charges never existed, not that they are real but simply not adjudicated.

    Don’t confuse the facts with the charges. There were truthful things in the charges. But the grand jury didn’t have to rule on truthfulness, or about the plausibility of the charges being true — they only had to believe that it was possible that the charges could be true.

    The charges were not “baseless”. A person claimed that Chapman didn’t live where he said he lived. That person has never been questioned under oath, and so we have no idea whether he was correct, whether he just THOUGHT he was correct, or whether he was making stuff up.

    But Chapman is as innocent of the charges as anonymous is of beating his wife. (I love anonymous, you can’t say I’m slandering “you” because you have no idea which anonymous person in the world I’m refering to).

    Even a plea leading to dropping of charges would not prove the charges true — often charges are filed which are specious simply to help with a plea.

  13. Charles R. makes some excellent points to which I am more than happy to respond. In fact, I am gratefull for the opportunity. Forgive me if I provide a bit of background for those not actually involved in what transpired during that period, but it is obvious that Charles R. is unfamiliar with the campaign (I am Mrs. Cheney, not Mr.), other than what might have been reported by the media at the time, which was largely accussations by Chapman that we trumped up the charges, which he repeated to the press again today. This continuing slander is what prompted my post today…I admit that I was quite incensed and determined to set the record straight.

    I was informed that Steve Chapman had broken the law…an election law! He was renting an address in Manassas Park purely for the purpose of running against Harry Parrish in the 50th Legislative District while he was still living in a home which he owned (and still owns) in Woodbridge. I was not informed directly by Ed Wilbourn but got the information once removed. I was shocked, but not sufficiently so to go running to my candidate making unverified accussations which I had received second hand. I discussed it with the campaign consultant.

    There was already some credence to these accussations because, at that time, almost all of his support was coming from outside of the District and any credible Republicans who were actually known to live here had refused to run against Harry. It was decided that the information had to be confirmed by Ed Wilbourn and then, subsequently, by his son before we even considered acting on it in any way, including discussing it with Harry. I was not involved beyond that until later…my job was running a campaign which was already being subjected to rhetoric flirting dangerously close to slander and libel. I’ve never seen a nastier campaign in Prince William County (of course, I’ve only lived here for 44 years).

    The information was confirmed. In fact, according to our information (first hand), Chapman had even voted in the Presidential Election without benefit of proper registration. This is when the great debate occurred as to whether we should report this information to the Commonwealth’s Attorney ourselves or provide it to the local authority (Registrar, Mayor, etc.); should we do so before or after the Primary; should we do it at all and run the risk of a huge scandal for the Republicans immediately before the General Election? Keep in mind, I had received the original information second hand so it was already getting around. I never discussed this with Harry nor, to my knowlege, did Kenny. The campaign was already getting nastier so Harry had other things to worry about, as did I.

    Then it became obvious that Chapman had become aware that we were in possession of this information, most likely through Michael Wilbourn. For some strange reason, Steve Chapman had me on his campaign email list and I received a copy of a press release wherein he was challenging Harry to sign a “fair campaign pledge” whereby our campaign was to refrain from perpetrating the very tactics which Chapman had been freely utilizing against us (misrepresenting positions, personal attacks, etc.)…and a passage which was obviously directed to withholding any information that we might have (my email address is…be happy to get a copy to anyone who would like one). I was infuriated by the hypocrasy of this.

    This was when I spoke with Kenny and told him that I was going to resign and take Steve Chapman on personally, as a registered voter in the 50th District, which was my right and, in my opinion, my duty. Harry Parrish is an honorable man who has devoted his life to the well-being of this District…more than 50 years of service…he did not deserve this. He had consistantly taken the high road in this campaign regardless of what Chapman and his people had thrown at him.

    Kenny talked me out of it so I never spoke of it to Harry.

    The rest is history. Kenny apparently turned over the information we had to the Commonwealth Attorney’s Office where it was investigated, garnering sufficient evidence to indict Chapman on both a felony and a misdemeanor charge of election fraud. There could be a number of reasons the felony charge was dropped, including, but not limited to, a plea agreement where he’s pleading guilty to the misdemeanor charge in March. I know that everyone just wanted this to go away rather than stir up another flurry of media attention…and then there’s the expense of a trial.

    On the issue of the blank petitions, I did, in fact, point out that I believed it to be improper but was told by the young lady handling it that there was nothing improper about it…and Steve Chapman WAS in attendance at that meeting. He knew what his people were doing.

    I trust that this, in some fashion, explains what happened and why. I apologize to Mr. Bacon for the length of this “comment”…I had no intention of monopolizing your blog at the time that I posted my original comment but I couldn’t allow these misinterpretations of my statement to stand unanswered. If more clarification is required, please utilize my email address and I’ll be happy to go into even greater detail. I’m already embarrassed that this has taken so much time and space.

  14. Jim Bacon Avatar

    No apologies necessary, Mrs. Cheney. As a journalist, I’ve learned that there are two sides to every story, and I’m glad to know yours.

  15. criticallythinking Avatar

    I too want to thank you for your response, and to point out that I think my comment was longer than yours.

    Also to apologize for the gender mis-identification. I don’t really know all the players, because I generally but not always write about issues, not the people who make the issues.

    And while the response raised a few more questions than answers for me, I frankly don’t see the point at this time of pursuing them farther.

    In my opinion, there was enough slinging in the 50th race to go around, but I didn’t perceive it to be a particularly “dirty” race. I suppose that is somewhat tempered by what side of the particular issues one might find themselves.

    I am supporting Harry for re-election, although since I’m not in the 50th district nobody really cares. I supported Steve because I liked his positions better and I thought it was time for a change, but I certainly like Harry a lot more than his opponent, and I’ve liked Harry throughout his career.

    Anyway, enough said. If I get a hankering to delve deeper, I’ve got the e-mail addresses I need now….


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