CANEGATA AND SCHANFARBER RESPONSE

Greetings:
I along with Attorney Yohana Manning serve as counsel to VIGOP Chairman John Canegata and VIGOP Secretary Max Schanfarber. 
Gordon Ackley, Todd Hecht, Antoinette Gumbs-Hecht, and Randolph Maynard filed a First Amended Complaint and Petition with the Board of Elections making certain frivolous challenges to the VIGOP’s 2020 Caucus Rules. All of their arguments were soundly rejected by the Honorable Kathleen Mackay in a judicial opinion issued today.
I have attached a copy of Judge Mackay’s opinion as well as Chairman’s Canegata and Secretary Schanfarber’s response to the First Amended Complaint and Petition. 
In sum, the Court found:

  1. There is simply no evidence to suggest that Chairman Canegata is not the legitimate Chairman of the Republican Party of the Virgin Islands. The Court emphasized that “Plaintiffs’ claims that [Chairman Canegata and Secretary Schanfarber] have engaged in a conspiracy is not supported by the evidence.” See page 20 of the opinion.
  2. Ackley and the Hechts “do not have a reasonable probability of success on the merits” of their lawsuit. See Page 11.
  3. Chairman Canegata has served as chairman of the VIGOP since 2012. See page 5.
  4. The VIGOP conducted a valid caucus in 2016. See page 14.
  5. The VIGOP approved valid, permanent caucus rules in 2018. See Page 5.
  6. The “2020 Caucus Rules is identical to the 2018 Caucus Rules . . . which were duly voted on and approved by vote of the VIGOP party officers on January 26, 2018, and by the BOE on January 31, 2018. Nothing within the four corners of the 2018 Caucus Rules indicates an expiration date or sunset clause . . . As such, the Court finds that the 2018 Caucus Rules are still valid.” See Page 15 (emphasis added).
  7. Ackley and the Hechts “present inconsistent arguments,” because they concede “that the VIGOP has the right to hold a caucus,” but then “contradict [their own arguments]” by arguing that they must be installed via a mandatory primary election. See Page 11-12.
  8. “One of Plaintiffs’ claims is that Canegata and Schanfarber’s attempts to mislead the BOE into cancelling the primary election is driven by Canegata and Schanfarber’s failure to collect sufficient signatures to satisfy the BOE’s requirements for a primary election. However, Canegata provided proof that he had collected more than 40 signatures in the District of St. Croix on a petition to run for state chair. This sum exceeds the minimum required of one district.” See Page 13.

The Board of Elections should swiftly reject the petition, as all of the arguments contained in it have been emphatically rejected by the Court.

Akeel Philip St. Jean, Esq.MCCHAIN HAMM & ST. JEAN, LLP5030 Anchor Way, Suite 13Christiansted, U.S. Virgin Islands 00820Office: 340.773.6955Fax: 855.456.8784Email: astjean@usvi.law

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