Glenn Youngkin’s gubernatorial campaign is facing criticism after a canvasser for a political consultant firm claimed to represent the Republican Party of Virginia (RPV) while canvassing door-to-door. The canvasser was caught when she visited RPV State Central Committee (SCC) Member Heather Stefl’s house, who pushed back until the canvasser admitted she actually worked for Vanguard Field Strategies, a company working for Youngkin’s campaign.
The canvasser asked Stefl for her name, address, and phone number. “I am working with the Republican Party in Virginia,” the staffer said in an exchange captured by doorbell camera, and first reported by The Virginia Scope.
“They are trying to get you to sign up for the governors election to vote saying in order to vote due to Covid you have to sign up with them and then you will be told what time and where to go,” Stefl said in a Wednesday Facebook post. “RPV didn’t hire these people or authorize this activity. They even have the real forms that are being used for the convention May 8th.”
GOP candidates in Virginia are currently trying to recruit delegates for the upcoming nomination convention and capturing supporter data to continue targeted campaigning efforts. But the RPV doesn’t do that activity on behalf of candidates for the nomination.
After the story was reported, Vanguard President Joe Williams said in a statement, “Vanguard takes full responsibility for this individual’s failure to adhere to Vanguard’s training guidelines, and we immediately recalled her from the field upon seeing this video. It was this individual’s first day and this was one of the first homes she visited. She was the only individual trained by Vanguard this morning and she has resigned her position.”
Williams said the staffer had only visited 23 homes and collected five forms, and said Vanguard would revisit its training to make sure employees are not misrepresenting themselves.
The Youngkin campaign said in a statement, “Vanguard was engaged by the Youngkin campaign to help voters understand the Republican Party convention process. We immediately brought this video to Vanguard’s attention because it was unacceptable and did not meet the standards of our agreement or the standards of our campaign. We demanded and are assured that Vanguard took appropriate actions.”
Stefl thinks the staffer is being scapegoated.
“This young girl has been let go from her position because someone does not want to take responsibility and be a principled leader and say, ‘The buck stops with me,’ or say, ‘This was wrong of my campaign to ever allow this,'” Stefl wrote in an email to other SCC members and RPV Chair Rich Anderson. “She was clearly instructed on what to say and how to phrase the talking points [at] a voter’s door.”
“Come to find out since we spoke this was happening in Fairfax/Henrico and other parts of [Virginia.] The same speech and talking points. That is not bad training, that was the training,” Stefl wrote.
She argued that other voters who aren’t party officials might not know that the RPV didn’t engage in activity working for specific candidates during the nomination season.
Stefl told The Virginia Star, “I believe it was on purpose and a well-crafted strategy to make sure they are not linked to a specific campaign. It was a way to legalize the operation. If the common voter or household person didn’t know the inside baseball of how the process works they would have thought that these door knockers worked for the party or [the Republican National Committee.]”
Stefl said that candidates claiming to represent the party creates an opportunity for tampering.
“What if the form was never turned in because the person collecting the form or their boss thought that they were voting for another candidate,” she said. “The voter would be pissed with the party, not the candidate, when they are told they can’t vote because there was no form for them.”
Stefl said, “There is no way to know who these people really are or what they were going to do with the data they collected.”
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