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Waurishuk dismissive of letter from Florida GOP Chairman Joe Gruters

The head of the Hillsborough Republican Party spoke dismissively at a recent party meeting of the letter demanding corrective action.
Jim Waurishuk, chairman of the Hillsborough County Republican Party. [Times (2016)]
Jim Waurishuk, chairman of the Hillsborough County Republican Party. [Times (2016)]
Published Oct. 24

Following a grievance against him by a fellow local party official, Hillsborough County Republican Party Chairman Jim Waurishuk spoke dismissively in a recent party meeting of a letter from the state party demanding corrective action.

Meanwhile, the local party passed a resolution backing a move by state Rep. Anthony Sabatini, R-Howey-in-the-Hills, for a “forensic audit” of the 2020 Florida election. The resolution contended — without evidence — that “a majority of citizens doubt that the November 3, 2020 election was conducted openly and fairly.”

Hillsborough County Elections Supervisor Craig Latimer, through a spokeswoman, declined comment. He referred instead to a statement issued by the Florida Supervisors of Elections, an association of Republicans and Democrats whose president is a Republican, Marion County Supervisor Wesley Wilcox.

The statement cited threats to elections officials and said, “False claims of fraud do not strengthen our elections. Instead, they degrade confidence in the institutions, and discourage citizen participation in our democracy.

“The integrity of our democracy has been challenged by misinformation, disinformation and malinformation that sows discord and undermines trust in America’s electoral process,” it said.

In another development, long-time Hillsborough Republican activist and political donor Hung Mai, a refugee who left communist Vietnam in 1978 and the owner of a Tampa civil engineering firm, sent a letter this week to all elected Republican legislators from Hillsborough County, asking them to seek Waurishuk’s resignation.

Long-time Hillsborough Republican activist and political donor Hung Mai. (Times files)
Long-time Hillsborough Republican activist and political donor Hung Mai. (Times files)

Mai is part of a fundraising organization created by dissident local party members to aid local GOP candidates, which they say the local party is failing to do.

In his letter, Mai cited what he called failures of leadership by Waurishuk, recent electoral losses by county Republicans and “embarrassing public statements and inappropriate (social media) posts” by Waurishuk, which he said have damaged the party.

Waurishuk has attracted national attention with inflammatory and conspiratorial posts condemning Democrats.

Mai said he hasn’t received any responses from legislators yet; some local elected Republicans have previously called for Waurishuk to resign.

In a meeting of the local party Oct. 14, Waurishuk was asked about the grievance letter from state GOP Chairman Joe Gruters.

It responded to a complaint filed against Waurishuk by another local party official, veteran party activist April Schiff, and ordered the party to undo actions she said were wrongly directed against her.

According to attendees at the meeting, some of whom recorded his comments, Waurishuk refused a request by Schiff to provide the letter to party members.

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He told the gathering the letter concerned “administrative issues,” was sent only to him, and “is being further discussed with the (state party)” because it contained inaccuracies.

Parts of the letter, he said, were in “total violation of the (state party) rules.”

Waurishuk didn’t respond to messages seeking comment. Gruters, through a spokeswoman, said only that the state party doesn’t comment publicly on grievances.

Contact William March at wemarch@gmail.com.