“They can’t remove me,” Ambrose told The Mirror, predicting on Tuesday that the state Republican Party won’t “entertain” the action. “They’re crazy, man,” he had said Monday night.
In a “trial” which was closed to the news media, 12 of the committee’s approximately 15 precinct chairmen met at a Gilmer business last Wednesday night and voted 11-0 to remove Ambrose after finding him guilty of three charges under Robert’s Rules of Order Newly Revised, according to meeting minutes released Monday.
Ambrose was notified of the gathering, but did not attend, according to documents released by the committee Monday.
The allegations included “conduct unworthy of an officer in the Republican Party,” misappropriation of party funds, and “failure to abide by applicable statutes and rules.”
All 12 voted to find Ambrose guilty of the misappropriation, although criminal charges against him related to part of that accusation were recently dropped.
The conduct charge passed 11-1, according to the minutes. It alleges several instances of Ambrose allegedly using expletives in conversation, and objects to part of the content of his Facebook page on the Internet.
In an explanatory letter to state GOP Chairman Steve Munisteri, Cynthia Ridgeway, who was elected acting Upshur GOP chairman by the group last Wednesday, said the charge involved Ambrose’s “common use of vulgar and profane language that is particularly demeaning toward women.”
The committee members also allege Ambrose tried to get reimbursement from party funds “to pay for his personal legal expenses incurred for his own defense against criminal charges. . . (an attempt) which the Secretary of State’s office declared to be ‘so outrageous as to not merit any discussion.”’
Ambrose had been charged with stealing and misusing county GOP funds, but Upshur County District Attorney Billy Byrd announced last month he would drop those charges.
The committee’s charge alleging failure to follow statutes and rules passed 11-0, according to the meeting’s minutes. Ambrose is in part accused of appointing vice chairmen to the Executive Commitee in order to “circumvent and nullify the votes” of the precinct chairmen, of filing a statutory form that illegally removed 11 elected precinct chairmen from office, failing to properly call Executive Committee meetings, and not recognizing Madaline Barber as the committee’s duly-elected secretary.
Ambrose quoted the Secretary of State’s office Monday as saying “they’re not sending money to Cynthia Ridgeway because she’s not the chairman of the Republican Party.”
He also quoted his attorney, Russell Soloway of Austin, as saying the committee couldn’t act to oust him. Soloway, contacted by The Mirror Tuesday morning, said his only comment for publication was “this inter-party political squabble will get resolved in a few months in (the) March primary election.”
Ambrose had already referred to that Monday.
“There’s a primary (election) coming up in March, and that’s when this can all be taken care of if the voters decide they don’t like the direction I’ve taken the party,” the chairman said. “This is a perfect time for the voters of Upshur County to give these guys (the precinct chairmen who voted to oust him) their walking papers.
“I have followed the letter of the law in regard to calling them to meetings and they have never come,” he added. “Shame on their allegations.”
Ambrose has held separate quarterly meetings of the Executive Committee from those called by Mrs. Barber, claiming he and not she is supposed to call such meetings. Several committee members believe it is her duty to call the meetings, and few have attended both factions’ gatherings.
The committee is scheduled to meet Nov. 22 to elect a new county chairman.
Mrs. Ridgeway, who had been recognized by several committee members (but not Ambrose) as vice chairman, said last week’s meeting was closed to the news media under Robert’s Rules of Order Newly Revised. In her letter to state GOP chairman Munisteri dated Monday, she said the committee voted to remove Ambrose “under the procedures outlined in Section 62 of RRONR, the Party’s adopted rules, per Texas Election Code Section 163.002.”
In the letter, she also noted that another county’s Democratic Party had “recently used the RRONR procedure to remove their County Chairman for similar charges to those brought against Chairman Ambrose. Their action was. . . accordingly recognized by the SOS (Secretary of State) for the conduct of the 2012 primary.”
Members of the committee who gathered at precinct chairman Wayne Oney’s business, Gilmer Computer Tech, for the vote on Ambrose included Oney and Joy Connery, who had attended Ambrose’s committee meeting earlier that evening. Meeting minutes showed other committee members present included Mrs. Ridgeway, Mrs. Barber, Joe Dodd, Troy (Cotton) Jones, Blanton Dawson, Jackie Oliver, Bill Stenger, Kenneth Yates, Ken Patterson and Glenn Leach.
Also allowed to attend, the minutes showed, were two State Republican Executive Committee members—Steve Findley, a fierce critic of Ambrose; and Brenda Patterson, who lost her bid for reelection as county chairman to Ambrose in 2010; Mrs. Barber’s husband, Sgt.-at-Arms Keith Barber; Parliamentarian Johnny Hinds; and Kirk Overbey, a professional registered parliamentarian.
The minutes were to be sent to District Attorney Byrd, among others. He declined comment on the matter to The Mirror Tuesday.