Republican groups in Virginia have voted to censure a freshman lawmaker for “abandoning party principles” while he claims it was retaliation for officiating a same-sex wedding.
The Rappahannock County Republican Party censured Rep. Denver Riggleman last week and, in a statement, Monday accused him of voting “for continuing resolutions for out-of-control spending that increase inflation and jeopardizes the economic stability.”
“Riggleman’s commitment to traditional Republican Party values” was called into question by the GOP group, which included “fiscal restraint,” as well as “curbing runaway deficit spending by Congress” and “strict enforcement of existing immigration and naturalization laws.”
The lawmaker, who represents Virginia’s 5th District, was also questioned about his “support for traditional family values, and other conservative principles.”
The Rappahannock County Virginia Republican Committee’s vote to censure Riggelman was the third against him by a local GOP group, according to the Rappahannock News, with another this month by the Bedford County Republican Committee and July’s move by the Cumberland County Republican Committee.
But the congressman’s office is pushing pack at the latest effort as unwarranted and contending the censure is due to Riggelman performing a same-sex marriage in July for two conservative Republicans who had volunteered for his campaign last year.
“This censure in Rappahannock is part of an ongoing effort to punish Denver Riggleman for his recent officiating of a same-sex wedding. Denver Riggleman has an excellent conservative voting record that has brought jobs back to the 5th district,” Riggleman spokesman Joe Chelak told The Hill in a statement.
“Denver Riggleman will continue to fight to make the Republican party a big tent party,” he added.
“Government shouldn’t be involved in marriage at all, but if it is, everybody has to be treated equally before the law,” Riggelman told The Washington Post, which first reported on the wedding.
“That is part of our Republican creed. And it also comes down to love is love. I’m happy to join two people together who obviously love each other,” he said.
After the wedding, a vote of no confidence was taken by the Cumberland County Republican Committee following a failed attempt to censure Riggelman when the district party chairman ruled it out of order. The attempts seem to be adding fuel to speculation that the some Republicans are readying a socially conservative challenger to run against him in a 2020 primary.
Riggleman, a member of the House Financial Services Committee, defeated Democrat Leslie Cockburn in the headline-making 2018 campaign in which the Democrat accused him of being a “devotee of Bigfoot erotica.”
The Rappahannock County Republican Committee claimed its “decisive” vote to censure the lawmaker was due to his “repeated votes for massive increases in the alphabet soup of visas for the importation of foreign workers (from low to high skilled) which reduce job opportunities for U.S. citizens and depress their wages across the board.”
“These votes undermine Trump’s program of American jobs for American workers,” the committee said, according to the Rappahannock News,
Riggleman’s “repeated votes to send sophisticated military equipment and advanced systems to Saudi Arabia to take their side in the War in Yemen” was also cited as a reason
“These votes undermine Trump’s pledge to stay out of other countries’ civil wars and to refrain from military commitments not clearly tied to our own national security,” the group said.
“Since taking office Freshman Congressman Denver Riggleman has not served the interests of the citizens of Virginia’s 5th District. By his votes in Congress it’s crystal clear he is at the service of big multinational corporations, foreign governments and their K Street lobbyists,” an unidentified committee member said in a news release.
“This censure is a ridiculous notion,” Riggelman’s spokesman told The News.
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