Loyal Black Republican Gets Sued by His Own Party

there arial, sans-serif; font-size: 12pt;”>By Tim Pompey

What happens when a loyal Republican and longtime political consultant gets sued by his own party for an event which he founded and named?

That is the current dilemma of Raynard Jackson, a thirty-year party member who cut his political teeth as a young man working as treasurer for the 1985 St. Louis mayoral campaign of prominent black Republican Curtis C. Crawford. Jackson has since been involved in every Republican presidential campaign from George H. W. Bush to George W. Bush.

Jackson is the president and CEO of Raynard Jackson & Associates LLC (RJA), a government relations and public relations firm based in Washington, D.C. Jackson’s firm not only works with politicians, but also represents professional athletes and entertainers. RJA also works with foreign governments, especially in Africa, helping them improve their relations with the U.S.

Currently, however, Jackson is not a happy Republican. Calling the current Republican campaign “Democrat Light,” he finds himself in the uncomfortable position of having to defend himself against a lawsuit brought by the Republican party against him.

It all began in February 2013 when, with the blessing of Republican party chairman Reince Priebus, Jackson launched what he called the “Black Republican Trailblazers Luncheon.” The plan was to honor prominent black Republicans who had been a vital part of the black community.

The initial honorees were:

  • Bob Brown, who was one of the highest ranking black staff members during the Nixon administration. Brown served in law enforcement and was the first black Federal Marshall. He was also a close friend to Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela.
  • Bill Coleman, who was the first black representative to serve in a U.S. cabinet position. He was appointed by President Gerald Ford in 1976 as Secretary of Transportation. In addition, Bill Coleman was a law partner with Thurgood Marshall. He was vital in strategically presenting the landmark case Brown vs. Board of Education before the Supreme Court in 1954.
  • The keynote speaker was Dave Steward, chairman and cofounder of World Wide Technology, Inc., one of the largest African-American-owned businesses in America.

As Jackson described it, during the planning of the luncheon, he received nothing but push back from Republican staffers.

“The staff didn’t think that what I was proposing was a good idea, but Priebus overrode them,” Jackson explained. “About two to three weeks prior to the event, I get this email from Priebus saying that the chairman was no longer available and that he was going to have to cancel his participation in the event. I called the chairman to find out that this was never the case. I guess these staffers didn’t think I would go directly to the chairman and find out that he didn’t know anything about it either, and so he did whatever he had to do internally and the program was back on the books.”

When it came to the keynote speaker, there were additional problems.

Jackson continued. “Mr. Steward tells me that as opposed to just giving a typical keynote speech, he asked, ‘Why don’t you get on stage with me, since you know the points that you want me to highlight, and you can just pull out of me whatever points you want me to make to your audience.’”

Again, Jackson encountered resistance. “I told the RNC staff that and they said, ‘No, this is not your event, this is the chairman’s event.’”

The Wednesday prior to the event, Jackson was so frustrated, he considered cancelling the whole affair. “I told them that this is nonnegotiable,” he said. “Either it’s going to go down the way the speaker wants it or I’ll just cancel the event. I called the chairman up and let him know what was going on. So the compromise we made was that the chairman and I would both be on the stage asking questions of the keynote speaker.”

Despite the resistance, Jackson described the luncheon as a “gold star” event. It drew more than 250 people in the audience plus an overflow of another 100 people. “We had about 40% of the audience Democrat and congressional staff,” said Jackson. “We had members of the Congressional Black Caucus, the NAACP, and the Urban League. They came because of their relationship with me and they were curious to see what the Republican party had to say in the context of this event.”

Jackson eventually abandoned any connection with the aforementioned trailblazer’s luncheons, claiming that they had become too liberal and “watered down.” Instead he founded the 527 Super PAC— Black Americans for A Better Future (BABF) . He also filed for and received a provisional trademark for the name “Black Republican Trailblazers Awards Luncheon.”

When he began to mail out invitations for the 2016 event, he was notified by RNC chair Priebus that “the RNC owned the name to my event.” In addition, they had scheduled their own event a week prior to his in Jacksonville, Florida.

Jackson claimed that he received notification from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office that his application for the luncheon name was in dispute and “officially being opposed by the RNC.”

When asked why his own party would bring such an action several weeks prior to a major election, Jackson answered: “The problem is you have too many people in the Republican party who think they know more about the black community than I do.”

Jackson has been politically active in the black community most of his life. He grew up in St. Louis where “everyone who was black was assumed to be a Democrat.”

Jackson however attended Oral Roberts University, where he became acquainted with a number of Republicans and conservatives. It was during this time that he discovered that what he thought he believed as a Democrat was actually closer to Republican values.

He cited those values as:

1) The church as central to the values and belief of the black community. He strongly believes that the Republican party is most closely associated with the core values of the black church. This includes a stance against gay marriage and strong support for school choice and school vouchers.

2) The black business person as the portal into the black church. Because of their leadership positions within the black church and because these black leaders are entrepreneurs, Jackson holds that the black business person has a vested interest in a great education because “as they continue to grow their businesses, they are the ones who have to hire people and they always try to hire within the local community.”

So why does Jackson believe he’s being sued over his own event? He admits, it puzzles him.

“I have no logical explanation for you,” he answered. “The only thing I can come up with is the issue of power and control and even though I brought this issue to the table, I created the name, I got the people in the audience, their only argument is that they want to control the name Black Republican.”

Jackson feels that without his involvement, the RNC has turned his luncheon “into a minstrel show. They don’t even know how to properly execute the event.”

Jackson’s response to the RNC trademark dispute is to fight back. “We’re going to fight on two tracks,” he asserted. “We’re going to fight in a court of law and we’re going to fight in the court of public opinion simultaneously.”

He believes he has widespread support for his cause: “Because Republicans are aware of this situation, I’ve had some very prominent white Republicans call and support me, and they’re scratching their heads and asking why Priebus would do this to you, especially now with a pending election?”

He’s also concerned about the image this projects to the black community about Republican values. “As far as the RNC goes, they are not serious about engaging with the black community on any significant level in any meaningful manner,” Jackson stated. “The reason I say that is they keep wanting to hire these millennials who don’t have any institutional knowledge, memory, or curiosity about the party.”

Jackson bemoans the lack of intellectual acuity and media experience that many black staffers project during media events. “They are not trained in media,” he insisted. “So as opposed to hiring blacks with experience or knowledge, members of the RNC want to hire blacks that they are comfortable with versus blacks who know what they’re doing, and that’s a strategic flaw in their approach.”


Raynard Jackson


Tim Pompey, a freelance writer who has done lots of local affairs and entertainment/cultural writing, lives in Oxnard. Tim is also a fiction writer (Facebook Page). You can learn about his books on Amazon.com: amazon.com/author/booksbytimpompey.

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