Virginia county GOP censures Rep. Riggleman, sparking sharp response

Virginia county GOP censures Rep. Riggleman, sparking sharp response
© Denver Riggleman for Congress

The Rappahannock County Republican Party in Virginia censured Rep. Denver RigglemanDenver RigglemanLiberty University official to launch primary challenge to GOP's Riggleman Virginia county GOP censures Rep. Riggleman, sparking sharp response House Democrats targeting six more Trump districts for 2020 MORE (R-Va.), accusing the freshman GOP lawmaker of “abandoning party principles,” including on fiscal spending and immigration.

But the lawmaker's office pushed back, defending his conservative record and saying the action had been taken "to punish" Riggleman after he officiated a same-sex wedding in July.

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The censure, which was voted on last week, was announced on Monday in a statement.

It accused Riggleman, who represents Virginia's 5th District, of voting for “for continuing resolutions for out-of-control spending that increase inflation and jeopardizes the economic stability.”

The county's Republican Party also questioned "Riggleman’s commitment to traditional Republican Party values," including "fiscal restraint," "curbing runaway deficit spending by Congress" and "strict enforcement of existing immigration and naturalization laws."

The censure also questioned Riggleman's "support for traditional family values, and other conservative principles."

Riggleman’s office called the accusations unwarranted, adding that it believes the action is intended to hit the congressman after he officiated a same-sex wedding ceremony for two of his supporters on July 14, an event first reported on by The Washington Post.

The couple who got married are conservative Republicans who volunteered for Riggleman’s campaign last year.

“This censure in Rappahannock is part of an ongoing effort to punish Denver Riggleman for his recent officiation 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,” Chelak added.

The action by the county's Republican Party comes after an earlier effort to censure Riggleman by a group of Republicans in the district failed in July.

But a vote of no confidence taken by the Cumberland County Republican Committee passed earlier this summer following the wedding. 

Riggleman's district cuts across a number of Virginia counties.

The censure of Riggleman comes amid speculation that local Republican groups are hoping to line up a socially conservative challenger to face the congressman in a primary.

In 2018, Riggleman defeated Democrat Leslie Cockburn, a former investigative journalist who accused the Republican of being a “devotee of Bigfoot erotica.” 

Riggleman denied that, saying his work is “really is an anthropological study on all the people who believe in Bigfoot and the different Bigfoot belief systems out there.”