Stripped of committee post after letter to Pence, Virginia GOP delegate says he’s mulling legal action

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RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC/WFXR) — Two Republican state lawmakers demanded that House Speaker Eileen Filler-Corn (D-Fairfax) reinstate their committee appointments after she removed them on the first day of this year’s General Assembly session in the wake of a letter they sent to Vice President Mike Pence requesting that he “nullify” Virginia’s presidential electors.

As legislators convened for the start of the 2021 session, Filler-Corn stripped Dels. Dave LaRock (R-Loudoun), Ronnie Campbell (R-Lexington), and Mark Cole (R-Fauquier) each of a committee assignment in the wake of their message to Pence and the attack on the U.S. Capitol.

The delegates sent the letter, which had the heading “Reclamation of Electoral College Electors from Virginia,” the day before rioters stormed the Capitol as the vice president was overseeing the certification of President-elect Joe Biden’s Electoral College victory.

LaRock told WFXR’s sister station on Tuesday, Jan. 19 that he didn’t seek to nullify the votes in Virginia, but instead simply made a “legitimate request” that the vice president delay certification in order to provide enough time to investigate claims of voter fraud.

Despite asking for a delay in the next sentence, the opening line of the letter asks Pence to “nullify the Certificate of Ascertainment of Presidential Electors” issued by Gov. Ralph Northam.

“This letter is written to you by elected members of the Virginia General Assembly, notifying you that we hereby ask you to nullify the Certificate of Ascertainment of Presidential Electors issued by the governor of our state,” the letter stated. “Further, we request a stay of any designation of Presidential Electors from our state until such time as a comprehensive forensic audit of the November 3, 2020, election has taken place to determine the actual winner.”

At this time, hours before Biden’s inauguration, no substantial evidence of fraud has been found and all legal efforts have failed to change the outcome of the election.

“By seeking to disenfranchise millions of Virginians and undercut faith in our democratic institutions, Delegate Dave LaRock, Delegate Mark Cole and Delegate Ronnie Campbell showed exceedingly poor judgement and conducted themselves in a manner unbecoming of their office,” Kunal Atit, Speaker Filler-Corn’s communications director, said in a statement after the delegates were stripped of their appointments.

LaRock was removed from the House Transportation Committee, Cole from the Privileges and Elections Committee, and Campbell from the Courts of Justice Committee.

LaRock and Campbell sent an email to Filler-Corn on Jan. 15 demanding that they be reinstated to their committees, claiming a violation of their freedom of expression.

“It is necessary that we be immediately offered the option to resume our roles serving on our various committees and be given assurances that the legislation we have filed will be given a full and fair hearing,” they wrote.

The two delegates set a 9 a.m. deadline on Monday, Jan. 18, for Filler-Corn to call, an ultimatum that garnered no response from the speaker.

“We would appreciate a phone call from you over the weekend to assure us by 9:00am Monday, January 18, 2021 that we are in agreement,” the letter continued. “We will delay any formal action or release pertaining to this matter until that time.”

LaRock didn’t deny the speaker’s authority to remove delegates from the committees — Del. Cole did not sign the latest letter and told The Free Lance–Star, “It is what it is. The speaker’s free to do whatever she wants to do” — but said that he is considering legal action, citing the speaker’s reasoning behind the decision to remove him.

“She [Filler-Corn] has deliberately been using the power of her office to chill my free speech and it’s completely irresponsible,” LaRock said in an interview.

“Delegate LaRock and Delegate Campbell continue to exhibit exceedingly poor judgement and a lack of contrition for their actions,” Atit said in a statement Tuesday. “In light of a deadly riot, spurred by the falsehoods they helped to peddle, this is the last time one should be leveling threats.”

The chair of Loudoun County Board of Supervisors called on LaRock to resign, publicly sharing concerns that he spread misinformation about the election results. Campbell, who did not take back the decision to sign the letter to Pence, did not respond to WFXR’s sister station’s request seeking an interview.

“They were merely asking for a delay so that some of the discrepancies that were very prominently displayed across the country could be investigated but I’m not, I think what’s more important is the environment and the context in which a letter like that was written, which is one where doubt rained across the nation and a significant portion of our country, as much as half, questioned the outcomes in various states,” House Minority Leader Todd Gilbert (R-Shenandoah) told reporters Tuesday.

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