Tonight is a GOP meeting, and this issue may be discussed. I figured that I would compile a few letters and statements for you to grasp the … back and forth.
Eric stated this on my show just a few weeks ago. He was discussing the recent public argument between Vance Phillips and Jeff Christopher.
Eric later was called on to address the things that he said by Pete Schwartzkopf:
Recently, the Georgetown Police were called to investigate an alleged physical altercation between a Sussex County councilman and the Sussex County sheriff. Both men are Republican elected officials and were at a meeting to discuss their differences over the role of the sheriff’s department.
As you probably know, this has been a much talked-about and divisive issue for the better part of 10 years. Emotions between these two men got the best of both of them.
I don’t know what actually happened in that office, but rumors are flowing freely. I am not going to comment on the situation other to say that I, like many others, am disappointed in both of them. No one wins when two people cannot sit in a room and discuss an issue without resorting to physical altercations. The residents of our county and our state deserve more from their elected officials. The Republican Party deserves more as well.
The purpose of this letter is not to render judgment. I want to comment on what was said after the night in question. I was stunned to hear one of the GOP leaders, Eric Bodenweiser, go on the radio and proclaim that this kind of action was “great publicity for the Republican Party.”
He said quite a few things that morning that I found to be incredibly alarming. He made light of the physical altercation saying, “That’s how we settle things” in Sussex. Having been a police officer in our state for 25 years, that is not only unacceptable, but you have to wonder what kind of message he is sending to the kids of our county — if someone disagrees with your position, then just duke it out? We are better than that.
Then I read The News Journal article on Oct. 29 that said: “One GOP leader suggested Friday that Phillips should offer Christopher a deal: Give the sheriff what he seeks politically… in exchange for Christopher’s not pressing charges.” Also, “If I was the county councilman… right now I’d be looking to get this thing taken care of. I’d say, ‘Gee, Jeff, what is it going to take to get this going away?’ ‘Well, how about some training and certification for my deputies? What about some squad cars?’ ” said Eric Bodenweiser, chairman of the 37th District Republican committee, on a local talk radio show. “Sometimes business gets done this way.”
Those statements should be alarming to the residents of Sussex County and the state. First, that is not how elected officials do business in Sussex or the rest of the state. And secondly, it is unethical and, more importantly, illegal for an elected official to give away taxpayer dollars or anything of value to make potential criminal charges against that elected official “go away.”
Those very reckless comments by Mr. Bodenweiser don’t help this situation at all and further destroy the image of elected officials in the eyes of the citizens we are elected to serve. This man is a strong leader in the Republican Party who, just last year, ran in a primary for the state Senate and has already stated publicly that he intends to run again in 2012 for that same elected position.
Mr. Bodenweiser’s comments take us backward to the days of backroom deals and cronyism. His comments were incredibly improper and damaging and also revealed his thought processes as a possible candidate in the next election. Regardless of political affiliation, we all need serious leaders who resolve their issues in a productive manner, not someone who glorifies physical confrontation and openly advocates for political bribery.
According to Delaware Politics this was Eric’s response:
“I enjoyed reading a letter from Rep. Pete Schwartzkopf regarding the Oct. 26 incident involving Sheriff Jeff Christopher and Councilman Vance Philips. [“Bodenweiser’s comments were out of line,” Letters to the Editor, Nov. 5] Certainly, my tongue-in-cheek idea to settle the incident by giving the sheriff what he needs was not a feasible solution and should never have been taken seriously. On November 4, while on the radio, I said. “I was wrong; it was a bad idea; I am sincerely apologizing to those that I upset by that idea and also to those who construed the idea as blackmail, bribery or backroom dealing. Please forgive me.”
However, my comments did bring attention to the fact that our sheriff is only asking for a small increase in his budget in order to buy two desperately needed, $14,000, used, surplus squad cars and $5,000 for a minimum amount of training for his deputies. Rep. Schwartzkopf labeled my idea as “bribery, backroom deals and cronyism,” things that are ALWAYS done secretly, behind close doors. On the contrary, I publicly gave my idea out on the radio and I spoke to a reporter about it. He, of all people, should recognize this difference. Rep. Schwartzkopf admits he does “not know what actually happened in that office,” but he rules that “emotions between these two men got the best of both of them,” completely ruling out that only one person may have lost his composure. He rules and he accuses them of “resorting to physical altercations,” when it only takes one person to become aggressive. Rep. Schwartzkopf served 25 years as a police officer, but apparently never learned about bullies. Rep. Schwartzkopf comes to some far-fetched conclusion that I favor people to “duke it out” and wonders “what kind of message (I am) sending to the kids of our county,” yet he champions bringing casinos to Sussex, in essence saying to our children “if times get tough, just go down and play the slots.”
He goes on about my “thought processes,” yet his very own “thought processes” support the social and fiscal liberal agendas that are ruining our state and nation. Acting as a shill for my ex-opponent, Rep. Schwartzkopf writes that I “ran in a primary for the State Senate and has already stated publicly that he intends to run again in 2012.” I challenge Rep. Schwartzkopf to tell me exactly where and when I made this public statement. My answer to every reporter has always been “if asked to run, I will, in the opposite direction as fast as I can.” Rep Schwartzkopf is trying this incident in newspapers when it should be tried by our court system. I offered a tongue-in-cheek solution. Rep. Schwartzkopf offers nothing but complaints, condescension and personal attacks. So, I will offer another tongue-in-cheek solution that should thrill him and the liberals of his ilk. Why not just trash the state Constitution completely by doing away with the Sheriff’s Office? We can have FedEx deliver all the court documents and private auctioneers sell off the property, and that way, the state can control it all from Dover. Then, we would never have to worry about “we the people” electing any more “uppity sheriffs” that might just want us to honor that stupid old constitution.
Last, I want to thank Rep. Schwartzkopf for elevating me to being “a strong leader in the Republican Party” and for taking so much of his valuable time to write his 600-word diatribe about me. Obviously, I must be doing something right.
“That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:10
I thought in fairness I should allow Mr. Bodenweiser to speak for himself. This is a letter Mr. Bodenweiser sent to the Delaware State News in response to Rep. Schwartzkopf’s letter.
If you want to delve farther into the drama, feel free to peruse some of the comments on the posts linked above or simply head to the GOP meeting tonight! And remember to listen to the archive of my show on your way home!