Political Insider: RNC affirms Yobs’ delegate status

Detroit News staff

Michigan Republican strategist John Yob emerged victorious in a months-long Caribbean kerfuffle to become a delegate for the U.S. Virgin Islands at next week’s Republican National Convention in Cleveland.

The Republican National Committee effectively ruled Wednesday in favor of Yob, his wife and a slate of delegates aligned with the Yobs who won delegate seats in a sparsely attended caucus election in March.

The RNC put down the hammer on Yob’s chief adversary, Virgin Islands GOP Chairman John Canegata, ruling that Canegata’s recent re-election at a territory convention was not proper. Two factions of the Virgin Islands GOP held competing state conventions in June, Yob said.

The national party has ordered a new election for territorial party officers within 90 days.

“That’s a way bigger deal than the delegates being seated,” Yob told The Detroit News on Wednesday.

Yob, of Grand Rapids, moved his family to the Virgin Islands last fall and quickly mounted a successful campaign for one of six national convention delegate seats. Yob’s wife, Erica, and the wife of a political consulting business partner also won delegate spots.

But Canegata and longtime residences of the U.S. territory challenged the Yobs’ election in court, contending they didn’t follow party rules and weren’t registered to vote before the March 10 caucus.

The Detroit News reported on July 3 that the RNC’s Contests Committee ruled in favor of Yob and was especially critical of Canegata in a blistering June 30 report.

U.S. Dems push Flint aid

Democrats in the U.S. House are pushing Republicans in the GOP-led chamber to allow a vote on legislation that would spend $765 million to address Flint’s lead-contaminated water crisis before Congress goes on its summer recess in August.

The lawmakers said in a letter to House SpeakerPaul Ryan, R-Wisconsin, the legislation would “provide the emergency and long-term resources needed for Flint while sharing responsibility with the state of Michigan.”

The legislation, which was filed by Rep. Dan Kildee, D-Flint Township, would fund $765 million worth of infrastructure repairs, expanded health care and education access, economic development and health monitoring in Flint, according to bill supporters. Kildee’s office has said the relief package would reach $1.5 billion if is matched by Michigan’s state government, which the proposed legislation calls for.

The measure, known as the Families of Flint Act, is being co-sponsored by 171 other Democrats, including Michigan’s other four Democratic House members — U.S. Reps. Sander Levin of Royal Oak, Debbie Dingell of Dearborn, Brenda Lawrence of Southfield and John Conyers of Detroit.

“The people of Flint continue to lack access to safe drinking water and need emergency funding to respond and recover to this health emergency affecting 100,000 Americans,” Kildee and the other Democratic lawmakers wrote to Ryan. “... Each day that passes that we fail to take action is a day that the children of Flint cannot get back.”

Democrats have tried unsuccessfully to attach the Flint aid package to other spending measures that have been approved this year.

The Michigan Legislature has approved more than $236 million in state aid for Flint since October, including $165 million in a current and upcoming fiscal year budget bill signed last month by Gov. Rick Snyder.

Rivals co-found new caucus

Michigan U.S. Reps. Justin Amash and Kildee are among 26 founding members of a Fourth Amendment Caucus that will focus on privacy rights and security issues in the digital age.

The Cascade Township Republican and Flint Township Democrat do not typically align on policy issues but are joining forces as part of the bipartisan legislative caucus, chaired by U.S. Reps. Zoe Lofgren, D-California, and Ted Poe, R-Texas.

The Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution prohibits unreasonable searches and seizures and requires warrants to be supported by probable cause.

A caucus to defend those guaranteed rights “is needed now more than ever, and its formation illustrates the growing awareness among the American public and their representatives in Congress of the far-reaching implications of the surveillance state,” Amash said in a statement.

“In the face of difficult circumstances, some are quick to pursue extreme, unconstitutional measures; the Fourth Amendment Caucus will be a moderating influence that gives voice to countless Americans whose rights are violated by these ill-conceived policies.”

Contributors: Chad Livengood, Keith Laing and Jonathan Oosting.