CHARLES TOWN – A Harpers Ferry woman said she will take a complaint against the Jefferson County Democratic Association to the County Commission this week after she and a dozen others were ejected from a meeting.
[cleeng_content id="514335523" description="Read it now!" price="0.49" t="article"]Patricia Rucker, a member of We The People of Jefferson County, said Tuesday that rules posted on the county’s website show that any gathering held in the County Commission meeting room of the Charles Town Library must be open to the public, unless the commission rules otherwise in a regular session.
Rucker said 13 members of her tea party political group were asked to leave the room by Delegate Stephen Skinner after taking their seats to attend a workshop the Democratic Association was hosting.
Rucker said she and other tea party members were hoping to study the Democrats’ teaching methods in order to improve its own candidate training classes.
“We’ve held how to run for public office workshops ourselves, and we thought this was similar to what we had done, she said. “Ours were always open to the public. I never would have attended if I knew it was a private meeting. I was probably naïve.”
Last week, Rucker and others initiated an email campaign to call attention to what happened.
Skinner said the meeting included sensitive discussions of private Democratic Party information.
“This was a strategy session for potential Democratic candidates that had detailed information about not just running for office, but winning office,” Skinner wrote in an email. “There were also detailed discussions of the Democratic database and how it operates.”
“I can’t imagine that anyone would think that a JCDA meeting was a place for Republicans,” he added. “Why would anyone think that?”
Rucker said she plans to file an ethics complaint if the JCDA does not apologize.
“The rules of the county commission meeting room are very clear and very specific,” she said. “I really don’t think we should have been kicked out. It must mean that they didn’t know the rules.
“Instead of them admitting that they did something wrong, they are trying to turn it around like we did something wrong,” she said.
Skinner pointed out that the commission’s room has been used in this way for a decade without complaint.
“Both the Jefferson County Democratic Executive Committee and the JCDA hold meetings at the library and have for at least 10 years,” he said. “These meetings are open to members of the organizations and registered Democrats.”
Skinner said Rucker is putting on a political show.
“Ms. Rucker is well known as a Republican operative who has previously exhibited targeted hostility to Democrats,” she said. “She said in an email she sent out across the state that her intent with this now is to embarrass Democrats.”
That email, sent to other tea party groups and eventually forwarded to a broad swath of state legislators, stated: “I would like everyone’s help in making what happened known statewide. Here in Jefferson County we are going to make a big deal out of it, and hope to embarrass the Democrats.”
Rucker said she wrote that email after an initial email exchange with Skinner. She said she was angry the JCDA had not apologized.[/cleeng_content]