Florida GOP demands corrective action from Hillsborough GOP chairman Waurishuk

The Republican Party of Florida issued a letter to Chairman Jim Waurishuk and members of his leadership team in response to a filing by April Schiff.
Jim Waurishuk, chairman of the Hillsborough County Republican Party. [Times (2016)]
Jim Waurishuk, chairman of the Hillsborough County Republican Party. [Times (2016)]
Published Oct. 8, 2021

In what looks like a rebuke to the Hillsborough County Republican Party, the Republican Party of Florida has mandated corrective action by Chairman Jim Waurishuk and members of his leadership team in response to grievances filed in June by party official April Schiff.

A letter to Waurishuk this week from state party Chairman Joe Gruters directs the local party to undo or cease actions the grievance said were aimed at Schiff by Waurishuk and his allies.

But the state party didn’t respond to allegations in Schiff’s grievance concerning inflammatory social media posts by Waurishuk that led some local Republicans to call for his resignation.

Related: Struggling Hillsborough GOP turns to Marjorie Taylor Greene

The letter also said nothing concerning Schiff’s request that Waurishuk and two members of his leadership team be removed from their posts.

Schiff, a decades-long local Republican Party official and political consultant, has become a dissident within the local party since Waurishuk took office.

Nonetheless, she is the state committeewoman, one of two delegates from the local party to the governing board of the state party.

Schiff won that position in an election on last year’s state primary ballot in which all registered Republicans in the county could vote, defeating Waurishuk ally Clarice Henderson.

Waurishuk, meanwhile, was re-elected chairman and several of his allies were elected to other party posts in elections among local party precinct representatives, a group mostly allied with Waurishuk.

In the grievance, Schiff alleged that Waurishuk and his allies took several steps that violated party rules in an attempt to diminish her influence and prevent her from performing her duties as state committeewoman: using party resources to oppose her campaign for the post; denying her access to the position’s official email account and lists of precinct representatives; engineering a failed attempt to have her reprimanded at a May party meeting; and creating new offices in the party, filled with Waurishuk appointees, to dilute her influence.

The letter told Waurishuk, among other things, that the newly appointed positions are to be vacated and membership lists shared, and forbade future attempts at votes of reprimand.

Gruters, who’s also a state senator, and Waurishuk didn’t respond to requests for comment. A party spokeswoman said the party doesn’t comment on grievances.

Schiff said the letter “sends a clear message that wrongful and damaging actions including violations of the party rules by local (Republican Party) members including the chairman will not be tolerated” by the state party.

“Hopefully that will result in better leadership and getting back to growing and winning.”

Waurishuk, an early and ardent supporter of Donald Trump, has attracted national attention and calls from some local Republican elected officials for his resignation for inflammatory posts. Some posts compared Democrats to Nazis; suggested Democrats and law enforcement officials investigating Trump should be hanged for treason; suggested the coronavirus is a hoax; and asserting the myth that the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol was carried out by leftists.