Continued Infighting Sends St. John Republicans Back to Court as New Political Contest Looms

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Photo from the cover of John Yob’s book “Chaos: The Outsider’s Guide to a Contested Republican National Convention.”

ST. THOMAS —  A months long court challenge over the status of VI Republican party leaders is before the courts again, with a hearing set for Aug. 22. A Superior Court judge is being asked to declare illegal the political standing of Chocolate Hole resident John Yob, his wife and a friend, Lindsey Eilon.

The renewed call for a ruling in the case Yob v. Fawkes comes as local Republicans get ready to hold a caucus expected to produce a State Chairman, National Committeeman and National Committeewoman, as well as members of the Republican Territorial Committee. That contest is scheduled to take place on Saturday, Aug. 13.

The original case was ended by Superior Court Judge Kathleen Mackay at the end of June, after she challenged Eilon’s and the Yobs’ eligibility.

An attorney for St. Croix Republican Valerie Stiles last week filed a motion,  asking for a hearing in Superior Court. Attorney Edward Barry said his client deserves to have her day in court and that her original challenge was improperly dismissed and later sidelined.

Stiles was a candidate running for the post of VI delegate to the national convention along with Eilon and the Yobs on March 10 when the first Republican Caucus was held.  The St. Croix Republican alleged she was cheated of her chance to serve as delegate because of voter fraud committed by three people who filed false statements at they time they registered to vote in the VI.

Mackay accepted Stiles’ declaration as an intervenor in the case of Yob v. Fawkes. The plaintiff and election officials argued she did not qualify because she did not live in the St. Thomas-St. John district where the dispute arose.

An appeal was filed with the Supreme Court in the first days of July and in a one day turnaround ruling, the high court upheld Stiles’ right to intervene.

The St. Croix Republican cited another problem to the plaintiff’s registration. Eilon and the Yobs falsely stated they were not registered to vote anywhere else, she said.

Barry’s filing to the Supreme Court said the Yobs were still registered to vote in Michigan. Eilon, he said, was still registered in Michigan and Virginia.

Before moving to the Virgin Islands, setting up a household and registering their children at Gifft Hill School, John Yob was a political consultant for former presidential candidate Rand Paul.  He wrote a book earlier in 2016 entitled “Chaos: The Outsider’s Guide to a Contested Republican National Convention.”

Stiles’ attempt to argue her stance in court did not come in time. The Republican National Convention came and went with the delegates she challenged making their way to the convention floor.

Now Stiles says her opponents want to influence the selections of local party leadership as the caucus is staged a second time. The new election was ordered by national party leaders July 13.

Barry said his client moved for a quick resolution, but was outmaneuvered.

“Stiles sought, and obtained, an immediate conference with the Hon. Kathleen Mackay, which took place by telephone on Thursday, July 14 [the judge calling in from London, where she was vacationing], to schedule an evidentiary hearing before an available Superior Court judge the following day, Friday, July 15. This counsel advised the Court that Stiles intended solely to raise the issue of voter registration fraud, and not bona fide residency, due to the time constraints.

Plaintiffs’ counsel, J. Russell Pate, Esq., appeared by telephone, and avowed to Judge Mackay that his clients intended to immediately file a Notice of Removal with the District Court.

Undersigned counsel acknowledged to Judge Mackay that a Notice of Removal would automatically stay any further proceedings in the Superior Court. The same counsel further acknowledged that, as a practical matter, the removal would render futile any attempt to schedule the evidentiary hearing. Accordingly, attempts to schedule the hearing were aborted,” Barry said.

The caucus for the VI Republican Party — one of three political parties in the Virgin Islands — was an internal matter, run by party officials after the Board of Elections declined to officiate. Elections officials cited cost considerations and a years-long effort to wean the political parties away from government subsidies used to conduct their internal affairs.

But in order to qualify, candidates have to be registered as Republicans in the Virgin Islands.

Elections Supervisor Caroline Fawkes became a defendant in the case when she told Eilon and the Yobs their registration came too late to allow them to participate as candidates on March 10.

The plaintiffs sought and won a court order, allowing their participation as candidates. John Yob, Erica Yob and Lindsey Eilon went on to win caucus seats and serve as VI delegates to the convention held in Cleveland in July.

Some local republicans, including attorney Edward Barry, characterized the three newcomers as carpetbaggers, a term dating back to the end of the U.S. Civil War in the mid 1800s. The dispute over their participation in local politics became the subject of several national news reports, including one printed in the Liberal Mother Jones magazine.

That article was entitled, “Inside 2016’s Weirdest Republican Delegate Fight.”

And no, the contested Republican convention Yob predicted in his book never materialized.