Chase stripped of last committee assignment in Senate
Censure resolution also moves forward in committee vote
A resolution to censure state Sen. Amanda Chase moved forward Tuesday, and the embattled Republican from Chesterfield County also was stripped of her last committee assignment, although not without objections.
Chase left the Virginia Senate Republican Caucus in 2019 after Sen. Thomas K. Norment Jr., R-James City, was re-elected as the Senate party leader. At the time, she said that Norment had allowed tax increases and expanded Medicaid and didn’t live up to Republican values. In 2020, Chase lost her seniority privileges and was stripped of three committee assignments, keeping only her assignment to the low-profile Local Government committee. Tuesday, Chase was the only “no” vote against approving the Senate committee assignments.
In a speech Tuesday, Chase claimed that she had lost her remaining committee assignment because she refused to pay $10,000 in annual caucus dues in 2020. “This is extortion,” she said, adding that her staff had been “bullied” as a result and that she had been “put over in the corner, like a scolded child.”
But Republican Sen. David Suetterlein of Botetourt County said Chase’s claim was not accurate. “One, I didn’t pay any caucus dues last year, and I don’t think anyone on the Republican side did,” Suetterlein said, noting that it didn’t matter with regard to committee assignments. Also, he pointed out, Chase herself “didn’t pay dues for multiple years” and had still maintained her committee assignments.
Sen. Mark D. Obenshain, R-Harrisonburg, said he recalled the meeting in 2019 when Chase said she was leaving the caucus. “The senator from Hanover said, ‘Whoa, don’t do that. You lose seniority and placement on all committees,’ which was met with wide eyes.” Obenshain added that leaving the party caucus had long carried the penalty of losing clout, dating back to then-Sen. Russ Potts’ decision to leave the Republican Party and run as an independent gubernatorial candidate in 2005. There were no changes in policy following Chase’s decision.
Sen. Mark J. Peake, R-Lynchburg, said that actions have consequences, and that “in pursuit of her personal goals,” Chase enjoys saying, “Look at me, I fight the good old boys.”
Tuesday afternoon, Democratic Sen. John J. Bell of Loudoun County introduced SR 91, which seeks to censure Chase for her participation in the Jan. 6 pro-Trump rally at the U.S. Capitol grounds that became a violent takeover of the Capitol building. The resolution passed the Democratic-controlled Committee on Privileges and Elections on a party-line vote of 9 to 6, and will be taken up by the entire Senate next.
Bell said “it brings me no joy” to present the resolution, which, if passed, would be the first censure of a Virginia state senator since 1986. It carries no further penalties.
“Leading up to the Jan. 6 insurrection, the senior senator from Chesterfield posted, ‘Make no mistake, we are at war,'” Bell said. “In the same post, she supported a call for martial law and falsely claimed the Democratic party hijacked our 2020 presidential election and committed treason. She went on to say, ‘Where the hell are the Republicans?’ I ask you, who is the war the senior senator refers to against? … I can only assume the war she refers to is against the United States.”
Chase herself did not make any remarks following the resolution; she asked committee chair Sen. Creigh Deeds via Zoom if the resolution vote could be delayed, as she was not prepared to speak. Deeds asked if Chase had been informed of the Tuesday vote, and Bell said he had spoken with her several days ago about it.
“There’s nothing to prevent her now from speaking to us,” added co-sponsor Sen. Adam Ebbin, D-Alexandria. The vote went on, and Chase will have another opportunity to speak when the resolution reaches the Senate floor.