LOCAL News :: Elections & Legislation

Republican Party of Virginia hires bigoted Goons

The Republican Party of Virginia has contracted CYMA Solutions, Inc. to register voters and solicit anti-gay support.
Last week, I locked up my bicycle to a light pole in front of the Marriot in downtown Richmond. A couple, a man and a woman, approached me and asked me if I would like to register to vote. I said, "No thank you, I'm already registered." Then the man said, "Would you like to sign a petition to ban gay marriage?" Furious at such a bigoted idea, I briefly cussed the individual and went on my way. As I walked off the woman laughed and said, "He's gay."

This week, on Monday August 22 at 5:15, I was riding home after work and saw these same individuals sitting at a card table near 2nd and East Broad Streets with a sign that read "Official Voter Registration." I couldn't believe these people were official, so as the idea sunk in I only got a block away before I decided to turn around and investigate the situation. I rode back to their card table and asked them who they worked for. The woman didn't speak at all and the man was not forthcoming with information. I noticed the man's name tag which read Mike, Cyma Solutions, Inc. Figuring he was a private contractor, I asked if he worked for the Richmond Registrars' Office or the Virginia Board of Elections. To which he responded, "I don't know, I think the Board of Elections." I asked the man his name he said Mike Geppie. The woman refused to give her name. They didn't like me asking them questions and after a point it was clear that they didn't wish to talk with me. As I rode off the woman said something about "gay lovers."

The next day, on my lunch break I went to the Registrar's Office to register a complaint about these "officials." Registrar Kirk Showalter spoke with me and said she had received other complaints about these individuals. She herself had talked to them and asked that they remove the word "official" from their sign at noon the same day I had seen them. She also said they had previously used the Great Seal of the Commonwealth of Virginia on their sign. Registrar Showalter asked me to call the Board of Elections to register a complaint.

I called the Board of Elections that afternoon to register my complaint. The person I tried calling was busy. In a little while, I got a return call from Lynda Sharpe-Anderson. I told her my experience with these people. She thanked me for my call and told me to call her personally if I saw them again.

That same day (Wednesday) at 3:15pm I took my 15 minute break and saw them in front of the Library of Virginia. I quickly called Mrs. Sharpe-Anderson but she didn't answer her phone. Since the Board of Elections is almost directly across the street from the library, I ran over there to try to contact Mrs. Sharpe-Anderson. She was in a meeting, so I left a message.

On the way back to the library I spoke with the woman and said, "You might be interested to know that there have been several complaints made against your organization." The woman called me a "fag." To which I responded with my own unkind words. She proceded to call me a "faggot" 2 or 3 more times, told me I was going to hell, etc.

A little while later, Mrs. Sharpe-Anderson thanked me for my tenacity in reporting these individuals. She said she had spoken with them told them not to represent themselves as working for the Board of Elections. She told me they had been contracted by the Republican Party of Virginia.

After work, these two individuals were still sitting in front of my workplace. So I decided to exercise my rights of assembly and free speech. I stood out there with them and every person on the street they talked to I notified, "These people are hire representatives of the Republican Party of Virginia and they have an anti-homosexual agenda." That's about the extent of what I said. After a little while the woman walked off and was gone a few minutes then returned. While she was gone, she had called the police. In just a few minutes two cruisers pulled up in front of us. And two officers emerged from the vehicles. They asked what was going on. We each told our side. They said I was shouting at people. I said I was on a public sidewalk and that the constitution protected my right to free speech. The eventual outcome was that the police said, "He's got as much right to be here as you do and unless he's disturbing the peace there's nothing we can do." Officer O'DELL told us not to talk to one another but we could talk to anyone else on the street. So things quieted down a bit. They continued talking to people on the street and I warned citizens that these were hirelings of the Republican Party of Virginia with an anti-homosexual agenda. After a total of 33 minutes they decided to pack it up and leave.

I'd like to encourage others to protest these individuals if they see them. They wear hats and sunglasses, they are a white couple in their mid-30's to early 40's. Let them know Virginia is for Lovers (gay and straight) not Haters.