A tape of a 17-minute phone conversation between former secretary of the V.I. Republican Party Robert Max Schanfarber and political operative Dennis Lennox has been alleged to highlight unethical dealings among party officials. On the tape, recorded in Washington, D.C., last fall, Lennox explicitly states arrest records will be revealed if Schanfarber does not cooperate and the same records will “disappear” if he does as directed. There is also talk of the signing of deals and even photo ops with the president of the United States.
“Max I know about your arrest records in California,” Lennox says on the tape.
“What arrest records in California, I don’t have any arrest records in California,” Schanfarber responds.
Lennox: “In multiple counties, in the 1980s. … I have all the records Max. I have them from all the counties. So what I am telling you is right now I would like to make a deal with you. I’m offering you the opportunity to support John Yob, Gordon Ackley, Jevon, Antoinette, April, unify the party, those records will disappear and never show up again. All you have to do is get on the right side of history and side with the RNC.”
The tape is the latest development in the ongoing, half-decade battle for control of the territorial branch of the Republican Party. John Canegata has claimed to be chairman of the local party and received support from the local Board of Elections and V.I. courts. However, the National Republican Party wants another election for chairman, which they would oversee.
The tape, which can be listened to online, appears to show an effort by Lennox to enlist Schanfarber in the effort to rid the local party of Canegata, who Schanfarber has supported. Lennox asks Schanfarber to support John Yob and Gordon Ackley who are the latest leaders in the campaign to oust Canegata. The effort goes so far that one online blog listed the effort as attempted extortion.
Lennox responded to the article alleging extortion on his part by telling the Source, “I will not dignify false attacks and unethical partial recording of settlement talks with a response as this is nothing more than an attempt to divert attention away from what the RNC ruled and the litany of findings in the audit, including almost $10 million raised and spent with nothing to show.”
Lennox says on the tape that Canegata will be indicted for embezzlement and his supporter David Johnson will be indicted for campaign donation violations.
Near the conclusion of the tape, Lennox mentions that Donald Trump will be flying into Washington, D.C., the following day. Schanfarber asks if Lennox can arrange a photo of him with then-President Trump. Lennox says something might be arranged if Schanfarber signs an agreement with him.
In some states, both sides must agree for a phone call to be recorded. However, in North Carolina, where the recording was made, only one party must agree to the recording of a phone call.
Schanfarber told the Source, “I never had these alleged criminal convictions in California as Dennis suggested, but I have known him to menace people in the past.”
Lennox told the Source, “The RNC stripped John Canegata of recognition. Max Schanfarber is not secretary and is not national committeeman. The territorial party is suspended pending its re-constituting by the RNC.”
Canegata released a statement about the tape saying, “Extortion has no place in our society and in our great party. Since 2016, Ackley, Yob, and others have actively sought to remove native Virgin Islander John Canegata from his Chairmanship and replace him with operatives from other jurisdictions. Historically,Ackley and crew resorted to cheap tricks and dirty backroom politics to harm the VIGOP. They have now crossed the line.”
Lennox emailed the Source, “You don’t have a single on-the-record source alleging extortion. The only allegation was in blog in a non-bylined article parroting John Canegata attorney Yohanna Manning. That’s grossly unfair to me and, frankly, inaccurate.”
Editor’s Note: This has been updated with additional comment from Canegata and Lennox, and to add direct quotes from the recorded call.