The Republican Party of Virginia told Donald Trump's presidential campaign in September that it was "exploring having a statement of intent" for voters in its primary, according to an e-mail obtained by BuzzFeed News.
The email appears to back up a claim made by Virginia GOP chairman John Whitbeck last week, when he said on the radio that the party had informed the Trump campaign on Sept. 8 about the possibility of asking those who want to vote on the Republican side of the state's open primary to sign such a statement. Days later on the same radio show, Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski said that the assertion that the campaign had been informed of this and failed to object were "just not accurate."
The Trump campaign has strongly objected to the statement in recent weeks, with the Donald himself taking to Twitter on Sunday to say that the RPV is "working hard to disallow independent, unaffiliated and new voters."
But an e-mail dated Sept. 8 from RPV executive director John Findlay addressed to Trump national political director Michael Glassner says that requirements to participate in the Republican primary "may include, but shall not be limited to, the signing of a pledge by the voter of his intention to support the party's candidate when offering to vote in the primary."
The e-mail further states, "RPV is currently exploring having a statement of intent for the March Primary. It is a must that the statement be worded to allow for members of the military and federal employees to participate in our process." It adds that part of the goal of the statement would be to "attempt to collect e-mail addresses of voters."
The e-mail obtained by BuzzFeed News did not include an attachment referenced in the email that allegedly contained a draft of the statement.
A memo dated Dec. 29 and addressed from the executive director of the RPV to the State Central Committee adds that the Trump campaign did not respond to the e-mail for 3 months. It says that they were finally contacted by the Trump campaign about the "statement of affiliation" on Dec. 9. They allegedly contacted the campaign by phone the same day and then in writing on Dec. 19. It is unclear what was said in that correspondence.
Lewandowski, Trump's campaign manager, said on Christmas Eve that the campaign has asked the party "to come back to us with what the final language is going to be. And as of right now, nobody knows what that final language is going to be."
The party released a statement on Dec. 17 saying that the statement will read, "My signature below indicates that I am a Republican," without any further statement of intent.
The memo further offers a debriefing on the controversy surrounding the statement. As Whitbeck, the RPV chairman, did last week, it argues that "the Statement of Affiliation is not designed to favor or hurt any candidate whatsoever. The purpose of the Statement is to build our Party and prevent Democrats from voting in the March 1st Republican Presidential Primary."
"Had the Trump campaign responded prior to the meeting, our Party would have alerted our members to their feedback at the September State Central meeting when the Statement of Affiliation was voted on," it says, adding later that the RPV has "treated all candidates equally."
The Trump campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Christopher Massie is a political reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.
Contact Christopher Massie at Christopher.Massie@buzzfeed.com.
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