Democratic feud intensifies in Chester County

Brian McGinnis, Chesco chair, cited a "private medical issue."
Brian McGinnis, Chesco chair, cited a "private medical issue."
Posted: August 24, 2014

A festering political feud in Chester County was stoked anew this week with the most unlikely fuel - a ticket for public urination.

Brian McGinnis, the newly elected head of the county Democratic Committee, was cited by West Chester police one night last month after being spotted in an alley.

A group of party members - who also happen to be his predecessor's most vocal supporters - are now calling for his resignation.

Their demand, in a statement issued Thursday, stunned McGinnis. At first, the 34-year-old Vanguard Group employee declined to address the incident, which he called a "private medical issue." Later, he chalked it up to party politics.

The news left his second-in-command only momentarily speechless.

"It's sort of like, 'Really?' " Vice Chairwoman Robin Greene-Toler said amid laughter.

The divide between the factions became public in June when Michelle Vaughn was unseated by McGinnis, who had the backing of State Sen. Andrew Dinniman.

In the aftermath, some members with allegiance to Vaughn talked of forming a separate committee.

They don't seem ready to let go.

In the statement to reporters Thursday, Vaughn's former fund-raising chairwoman, Diane Welsh, said McGinnis had "managed to bring shame to the party" with the citation.

Judy Porta, another of Vaughn's supporters, said his conduct confirmed that he was not prepared to lead.

McGinnis was cited about 10:30 p.m. July 11 on Prescott Alley, one block off West Chester's main drag. It's his second citation for public urination, the first coming about a decade ago, said lawyer Samuel Stretton, one of Vaughn's supporters.

Those cases, along with a disorderly conduct citation against McGinnis when he was 22, amount to a "pattern" of bad behavior, his detractors contend.

Stretton said his motivation for calling for McGinnis' ouster was irrelevant.

"Whether it's a biased motive, I'm a sore loser, or whether it's a high-minded motive, I think this should be known," he said. "I don't think it is acceptable conduct."

Vaughn, who said she was aware of the news release but did not write it, said she had no ax to grind.

"This doesn't have any impact on me," she said. "You can't turn back time now."

She said that officials have an image to maintain and that the public should know when they do not, citing headlines a few years ago when a county official's wife was charged with prostitution.

McGinnis dismissed the attack as more fodder from a small group he said had targeted him for months. "I now believe," he wrote in an e-mail, "they are trying to sabotage the success of the Chester County Democratic Party."

As for the calls for his resignation, McGinnis said he would not oblige. And he said: "I hope their attacks on me will satisfy their thirst for revenge, and they will not go after any more Democratic Party members, their spouses, or children."


tnadolny@phillynews.com

610-313-8205

@TriciaNadolny

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