Sammons Pressures State GOP to Ban McCarthy, Bowlsbey, Coutz on Local Party Panel; Questions on Role of Haire, State Chair and Hornberger Ally

November 15, 2022


It’s a good thing that Ronald Reagan, the late President and conservative Republican hero, never sought a seat on the Cecil County Republican Central Committee. If he had lived here, he wouldn’t qualify under retroactive sanctions now being proposed to ban anyone who ever donated to a Democrat or challenged a GOP nominee, before they were even sworn in to the local committee. (Reagan was a Democratic Party activist and donor before switching to the Republican side.)

The campaign to nullify the decisions of county Republican voters—who elected Alan McCarthy, Joyce Bowlsbey and William Coutz to seats on the GOP Central Committee in the July primary but who have not yet been sworn into office—is being led by Vincent Sammons, the multiple online personality and political gadfly. (Sammons, an on again, off again chairman of the local panel got himself installed as chairman again at a secret meeting in August, filing documents with the state Board of Elections (BOE) proclaiming his chairman title effective 8/6/2022. )

Sammons declared in a statement posted on the committee’s Facebook page that the three seats had been declared vacant by the state party and invited local Republicans to apply for the seats. But his claim is in question, since none of the supposedly ousted members have received any formal notice from Dirk Haire, the chairman of the state Republican Party. (Haire is a Danielle Hornberger ally who served as her attorney in a court case filed by McCarthy challenging the validity of her campaign finance statement in the 2020 campaign for county executive.)

An email from Sammons to McCarthy included an attachment of a letter purportedly written by Haire on 11/10/2022. But the grammar, wording and bylaws citations of the letter seem inconsistent with Haire’s profile as an attorney and experienced political operative. (Haire is also chairman of his wife’s million dollar campaign for Anne Arundel County Executive in a race considered still too close to call. Danielle Hornberger’s own political committee donated $6,000, the state legal maximum, to Jessica Haire’s campaign.)

CECIL TIMES sent a detailed email to Haire asking him to verify the authenticity of the Sammons-cited letter and asking if he had sent electronic or written copies of the letter to the three elected committee members. He has yet to respond but this report will be updated if he does.

So why should anyone care about who sits on a local political party committee? Is it all inside baseball? It’s all about the power to pick candidates to fill vacancies in crucial local government positions: County Council and County Executive. Since all local elected positions are held by Republicans, the GOP committee would have the power to select three names for a list that the County Council would be limited to in selecting a replacement official.

In the purported Haire letter, certain bylaws of the state Republican Party are cited in claiming McCarthy, Bowlsby and Coutz are “ineligible to serve” on the local committee. But those bylaws only apply to SITTING members of the STATE central committee. Election law only requires that a candidate for a county party committee seat must be a registered party member to run on the ballot.

Some of the cited bylaws cover conduct such as sexual harassment and threats of violence as a cause for removal of a member from a party committee—matters that have no factual bearing on the three candidates in question and could raise questions of libel.

Bowlsbey is a former County Council president and decades-long community civic groups leader. The date of the purported Haire letter was the same day that her husband, John, died after a lengthy illness. She upset the Hornberger administration by waging a symbolic, and unsuccessful, write-in campaign to reclaim her former District 2 Council seat against a Hornberger-backed candidate.

Coutz is a member of the County Council who was defeated in the GOP primary for re-election. He served as chairman of Bowlsbey’s write-in campaign.

McCarthy, the former county executive who was defeated for re-election by Hornberger in 2020, has been a target of Sammons online vitriolic attacks for years. But his cardinal ‘sin’ this year was winning more votes than Sammons did for the local central committee. Coutz and Bowlsbey also won many more votes than Sammons, who was the bottom finisher in the races for the nine seats on the GOP committee.

Sammons most recent complaints assert that McCarthy violated party rules by donating to a Democratic candidate. But those rules, adopted a few months ago at a GOP convention, only apply to donations made after June 1, 2022 by sitting members of the state GOP committee. McCarthy donated $500 to the write in campaign of Bowlsbey, a Republican, several months ago. He also donated $500 to Peter Franchot, the state Comptroller and a Democrat, in 2021.

McCarthy said he was “grateful” that Franchot, as a member of the three-member state Board of Public Works, had voted to support many Cecil County projects when they were seeking approval of state funds. (At the time of the donation, which was made to Franchot’s comptroller political account, there were no declared GOP candidates for governor. Franchot went on to form a separate gubernatorial campaign fund and ultimately lost his bid for the Democratic nomination for governor.)

Coutz and McCarthy told Cecil Times they would vigorously fight any attempt by Sammons or others to overturn the will of GOP primary voters and refuse to seat them on the Central Committee. Coutz called Sammons “a bully” and added that “I’m going to fight this to the very end.”

The next dramatic performance may come at a mandatory organizational meeting, which under state GOP bylaws must be held up to two weeks after the general election votes are certified by the local BOE this Friday, 11/18/2022. At that future meeting, the elected members of the Committee are supposed to officially take office.

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One Response to Sammons Pressures State GOP to Ban McCarthy, Bowlsbey, Coutz on Local Party Panel; Questions on Role of Haire, State Chair and Hornberger Ally

  1. Pamela Howard on November 25, 2022 at 9:21 am

    Another attempt to overthrow an election. These people were duly elected by registered Republicans of Cecil County. It’s unbelievable.

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