Media Expelled From Delaware GOP Convention

Two reporters, one of them the President and Managing Editor of the Midlantic Dispatch were expelled from the 2016 Delaware GOP State Convention without cause.

The reporters who were openly displaying press credentials and assigned to cover the news at the 2016 Delaware GOP State Convention, were approached by a Dewey Beach Police officer who asked the them to leave on the grounds they were not credentialed. They were sitting quietly either typing , writing or taking photographs as their trade requires, until the uniformed officer asked them to leave at 1:45pm. The reporters arrived and 12:30pm and were admitted to the convention center. There was no known problem until that time.

La Marr Gunn addresses DE GOP Convention IMG_20160501_014525834_HDR

The First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States reads:

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise of freedom of speech, OR OF THE PRESS, or of the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”

The two reporters, Donald Ayotte and Staff Writer Wolfgang von Baumgart’s civil rights were clearly violated in this instance by the Delaware GOP for unknown reasons. Apparently, the Delaware GOP perceives themselves to be a law unto themselves.

John Fluharty, the Executive Director of the Delaware State GOP, was asked on scene, by Donald Ayotte, the President and Managing Editor of the Midlantic Dispatch, if he was aware of the First Amendment of the US Constitution. Mr Fluharty replied that he was not aware of that. Mr. Ayotte replied that he should be very aware of it. Mr. Ayotte has earned a BA in English with a concentration in Journalism from the University of Delaware.

“I don’t understand this action on the part of the Delaware State GOP, “said Ayotte,” We only cover the news, and we were about to endorse a couple of their candidates. Why would they want this kind of bad press while violating the law. It is utter nonsense and stupidity on the part of the the DE State GOP.”

A check of the Delaware GOP website revealed that the need for separate event-related media credentials was not posted.

“This is not exactly the GOP’s smartest PR move.”, said von Baumgart as he left the building.

40 thoughts on “Media Expelled From Delaware GOP Convention”

  1. What a confusing, uninformed and contradictory post:

    1. Freedom of the Press applies to government action, not that of private organizations

    2. You were just there as reporters, trying to get a story, but then admit you “were about to endorse a couple of their candidates”. You can’t have it both ways Don. Either you are objective reporters who want a story, or you are active players looking for a slant.

    Reporters report.

    Reminds me of a guy who looked like you, Don, who displayed his credentials at the polls Tuesday and told people he was the press an was doing an objective exit poll….and then congratulated people who said they voted for Trump. I think his name was Don Ayotte too! Of course you said you congratulated those people because I congratulated people who said they voted for Hillary. Of course you wore the press badge and I my Sussex County Democrat badge.

  2. Mitch:

    I explicitly remember Don saying “Thanks for Voting…. Have a nice day ” to voters regardless of how they voted.

    Would you take the same stance of someone from DL or other left-leaning publication was expelled?

    Apparently, the Delaware GOP did not post the requirement for additional specific media-related credentials on their website prior to the convention.

  3. @Mitch
    Thank you for your uninformed comment. We went there to report for “The Midlantic dispatch and were greeted with respect and shook hands with many people that we knew. It was the GOP pseudo-elite that acted in an adversarial manner and alerted the Dewey Beach Police force, and made their case. The officer was a complete gentleman and acted appropriately and kindly, but the DE GOP had clearly asked him to violate our First Amendment rights to cover this event.

    You can paint this any way you want Judge Crane, but this is an issue for the courts.

  4. I have heard numerous stories from credible sources of police being called to expel people from HOA meetings and the like simply for making motions that disagree with the Board of Directors decisions.

    At one Sussex GOP meeting,one dissident who refused to sign-in was asked to leave under penalty of arrest.

    Sussex County P & Z routinely and unnecessarily employs three Georgetown Police officers at their public meetings regardless of a generally orderly history.

    This incident raises fundamental questions of misuse of the police resources on the part of political and private entities with intent to intimidate.

    Delaware police departments need to thoroughly review their policies in this regard.

    John Fluharty could have explained the policy better and/or issued credentials on the spot, but instead chose a rather heavy-handed approach to a problem of the DE GOP’s own making.

  5. Let’s see if they try to kick us out of the next Sussex GOP meeting if we think that is newsworthy enough to cover….

  6. @ Nitpicker:

    I doubt if the DE GOP is smart enough to change its Jurassic media policies.

  7. With all due respect, Don. Your press badge doesn’t change the fact that you are chairman of another political party.

  8. I agree with you Mitch but I’m fully capable of doing both jobs without bias reporting. you were a witness when I polled both parties at Cape Henlopen High School voting . I know my job in each respect and our party was about to endorse 3 of their candidates. There is absolutely no excuse for the Delaware GOP’s behavior. We already had out stories anyway.

  9. It is obvious that the two so-called “major” parties don’t give a damn about Freedom of the Press when they find it politically expedient.

  10. anyone who writes an article referring to himself in the third person should have his press credential removed immediately. no wonder they tossed you.

  11. This is a heavy-handed tactic on the part of GOP Oligarchs that will come back to bite them in the ASS.

    If threre is anyone who needs to have his credentials revoked, it is John Fluharty.

  12. I see that the political Spinmeisters, hacks and haters are out, hawking their defective wares elsewhere in the DE Blogosphere … Amusing .

    The DE GOP has shown its true colors.

    Stay clicked in for further details.

  13. Since when does a BA in English make anyone a Constitutional scholar? (The “concentration in journalism” part makes it funnier, he didn’t even “concentrate” on “journalism” enough to get a minor in journalism which boils down to 6 classes most of which he would already be taking with his “English” major).

    Reporters with integrity purchase tickets for the events they cover, that way their integrity and reporting can not be called into question by free tickets and free meals. Did Don and Wolfgang register and pay to attend the GOP Convention?

    Most reporters are not leaders of opposing political parties. While Don says he can separate the two, most intelligent, conservative news followers recoil at the fact that George Stephanopoulos worked for the Clintons and hosts This Week and Chuck Todd hosts Meet the Press and his wife works for the Democrats. Look at the reporting by those two “reporters.” Does anyone trust Stephanopoulos or Todd to tell the truth? No. This is why Fox News dominates in the ratings.

    Finally, another law suit? Laughable and embarrassing. Conservatives aren’t supposed to be litigious, frivolous lawsuits cost the tax payers millions and tie up the courts so that legitimate cases have to wait years to be heard.

  14. SMH
    Yes, I have a BA in English, but nearly have minors in both political science and history, including courses in international relations.
    I have studied much about the US Constitution, The Federalist Papers, The Declaration of Independence, and have read many biographies on the Founding Fathers as well as studies of history of the times of the American Revolution. I have many of those books in my personal library for reference. Thank you for your question and God Bless You.

  15. Never underestimate the power of the Delaware Elephant and Donkey rumor mills. Nothing in this article, per se, expressed or implied impending litigation , but it is very amusing to listen to anonymous posters chime in.

  16. SMH
    You didn’t even do any research!!!!! When I attended the U of D, they did not offer a minor in Journalism, just a concentration in the subject.
    I would deeply appreciate it if you would get your facts before leveling accusations Sir or Madam.

    God Bless You and have a good day.

  17. “When I attended the U of D, they did not offer a minor in Journalism, just a concentration in the subject.”

    Who cares? Did they teach you to write articles in which you quote yourself as “Don Ayotte”?

    Did you have a press pass issued by the organizers of this event? No.

    Is any organization under any obligation to admit self-identified members of the “press” to whom they did not issue a press pass? No.

    Does the First Amendment say “Anyone with a press pass can get into any private meeting they want without paying admission?” No. Nothing remotely like that.

    The freedom of the press gives you, or anyone else, the right to publish whatever they’d like. It does not grant some kind of right to attend whatever meetings a private organization decides to conduct.

  18. @Nitpicker
    The U of D didn’t have a minor in journalism until 2007, the year after I graduated but the concentration in journalism was very good.

    It’s not best to quote yourself but when you are the reporter doing the story, at times it is necessary. At least you will never get the quote wrong.

    The First Amendment does give a Journalist the right to attend any public meeting. If refused, both the media corporation and the reporter may file a civil action against the offending party.
    In this particular case, Myself and Wolf von Baumgart were sitting quietly taking notes and photos. In essence, we were doing what our trade requites. Their was no reason for the DE GOP to violate our First Amendment rights by expelling us.

    It is the right of the media corporation to issue press passes identifying their staff writers as well as other employees.

    John Budler, a talk show host from WXDE stated incorrectly that he has a state press pass. If he has one we don’t know where he got it because after a search on this issue at state websites, we found that DE does NOT issue state press passes to organizations, but may be able to issue event passes.

    Media does credential their own staff to do the work of reporting the news. Like John Budler, I too was an investigative reporter for a daily paper and was credential by the organization to report the news. I’m sure different states have different laws on this subject, but state controlled agencies do not control the press and I don’t know why Budler would endorse that. It would be challenged almost immediately by most media outlets.

    I’ve found that on blogsites, people who comment anonymously tend to view themselves as experts in every field. Perhaps the reason for this behavior,would be that they can’t be held responsible for their incorrect opinions.

  19. We thoroughly checked the DE state GOP website for just such a requirement prior to the event , but apparently it was not posted.

    Another reporter showed up without the event badge in question and was issued credentials on the spot. The Midlantic Dispatch, duly incorporated as a media organization in the State of Delaware, should have been given the same courtesy.

    Is is strongly suspected that the entire incident was precipitated by agents of a self-styled downstate right-wing hate blog out of personal animosity and it raises questions about the GOP’s real attitude towards a Free Press.

  20. In the end, it makes the DE GOP look crude , brutish. Neanderthal and repressive. It really makes one wonder who really is in charge — the state Ex Com or the political hacks and street thugs???

  21. Mr. Ayotte,

    The state does indeed issue credentials via state police for media to access leg hall and media rooms in the court system. So, I was not incorrect… You just don’t know that.

    Point I was trying to make was that does not give me a master key to enter any event or meeting as I please. Everyone at the media table on Saturday went through the proper procedure to obtain their creds.

    The story should be why didn’t you? I’m going to speculate it was the same reason you explained to the officer who escorted you out: You though the self-printed creds was enough to make your way in to cover said event. If that’s the case, I refer you to what I said in my previous statement.

  22. “The First Amendment does give a Journalist the right to attend any public meeting. If refused, both the media corporation and the reporter may file a civil action against the offending party.”

    NASCAR events are open to the public. Show up at the gate with your press pass, and see how far inside you get, Don.

    This event was not free and open to the general public. It was a private organization holding a meeting at which admission was charged. They have every right to decide whom they admit as “press” and whom they don’t.

  23. Mr. Budler
    “The state does indeed issue credentials via state police for media to access leg hall and media rooms in the court system. So, I was not incorrect… You just don’t know that.”

    These are not credentials that are issued by media organizations. they include even lobbyists and people that just want to be there. As you know, The Midlantic Dispatch is a Delaware LLC partnership and our business is media. We are also a publisher and have the right to issue ID cards to our employees and press passes to our staff writers, that identifies them as reporters. There is a big difference in what we are talking about. I am writing an article to be published this afternoon.

  24. “The reporters arrived and 12:30pm and were admitted to the convention center.”

    The event began with a Prayer Breakfast at 8am, with the Convention beginning at 10am. You showed up, eh, excuse me… the reporter showed up at 12:30pm and were ‘admitted’. By whom were you admitted. Jon Budler, who didn’t pre register for the event, came early, registered and was issued his credentials. The registration table was probably not set up for them to issue yours and I doubt you even tried , since you are the ONLY real journalist who covered the event. I am sure the people who could have issued your ‘papers’ was busy doing something else, like THEIR JOB.

    This is all about nothing because looking at the reporting done by Don and Wolfgang, it’s inaccuracies and lack of depth of knowledge provided nothing in the way of information needed for the public to make an informed decision at the ballot box because they had no credible information to share.

    Real news organizations were there to cover the real news of the day, like CNN, the News Journal, Cape Gazette and 105.9 among others.

    [ NOTE: We could not report “in-depth” as we were ejected from the convention. Apparently, the DEGOP is not strong enough to allow independent reporting or analysis and resorted to prior restraint. WvB]

  25. Don, you are incorrect again.

    It is a credential. Says so on the back. I really have zero interest in a pissing match with you, or correcting you when you are clearly in the wrong here.

    As I said before, the REAL story here is why you did not seek the credentials that would have allowed you to cover the event? Every other media outlet had no issue. Couple of us were not even on the list, showed up, explained who we are and creds issued. I don’t mean to demean you, but you should know how this works as a managing editor for your outlet.

  26. Mr. Budler
    For not wanting a pissing match, you sure like to start them!

  27. Jon,

    You are a good man and a damn good reporter.

    I respectfully submit that Fluharty and the GOP could have been more professional by explaining the procedure and affording us the opportunity to obtain the needed credentials, without first resorting to police power. The requirement for an additional credential was not posted on the DE-GOP website when we checked prior to the event and we did not get the memo.

  28. @ Budler
    We disagree on the the definition of what a “Free Press” is Budler. I know what it is and you’re an establishment suck-ass. I was in the executive committee of the GOP for years before I finally got sick of their crap. I’ve never seen event passes for their conventions before this GOP convention. There was nobody at the door when we arrived and nobody said a thing until “mutt and jeff” complained. We’re going to disagree on what a free press is, but it’s because of people like you who won’t defend the First Amendment concept of a free press. So keep pissing in my direction and I’ll piss right back.

  29. Speaking about Freedom of the Press, the 2016 Reporters Without Borders Press Freedom Index ranks the United States 41st — right above Burkina Faso. Here is the link:,

    Before one of our sophomoric anonymous critics tells us “If you do don’t like it , move to Finland” — Finland was ranked number 1.

    Read it and weep.

  30. Actually, as I recall, Don was very focused straight ahead as we walked in and may not have noticed.

    I (characteristically) scanned at a wider angle and flashed my press card at someone off to the side just beyond the door who seemed to be checking for tickets and was waived through.

    No one noticed or seemed to care about our lack of additional credentials until the Delaware Right crew made an issue of it and bragged to David Anderson that they had his reporters thrown out.

  31. And out comes the personal attacks….

    Funny how you want to preach what free speech is to me when you are the guy that sued a blogger for excercising it.

    Tell you what, when you gain some sanity then you can come apologize to me for acting like a buffoon. You were and are wrong, end of story.


  32. Jon
    I wouldn’t really call it a personal attack. We disagree on the Founding Fathers ideology on their concept of a “Free Press.”
    You believe that political organizations should offer press passes to people who will report favorably on what they do and say.
    I believe that they have no right to eliminate people who would seek the truth and write the truth without retaliation.
    You believe that the legislature and courts should be able to eliminate people who disagree with them as they make unfair and corrupt laws that favor the wealthy and courts that are at times, little more than kangaroo courts. I believe that a free press has the right not to be eliminated by a “state issued press pass.” Our two ideologies on a “Free Press” are irreconcilable.
    You believe the state has the right to issue or withhold press passes and I believe that idea is inconsistent with the original idea of a free press, and is damaging to America’s freedom and liberty.

  33. Jon,

    Thanks for your input. Controversy sells. Keep up the good work.

  34. ” I know what it is and you’re an establishment suck-ass.”

    “I wouldn’t really call it a personal attack.”

    Right, Don. Lol.

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