Prominent Republican Leaders Criticize St. Johns GOP Chair After Chaotic Meeting Triggers 911 Call, Pursuit of Charges by Vice Chair

The St. Johns County GOP Chairman, Blake Paterson, faced criticism from political leaders and activists following a tumultuous meeting on June 1st. The meeting resulted in a 911 call and subsequent charges being pressed by the party’s vice-chair. Paterson sent an email to members stating that the party lost their venue at the First Coast Technical College as a direct result of the events during the meeting. According to a 911 call obtained by Florida’s Voice, Paterson reported a disruptive verbal and potentially physical altercation involving five to six people. Paterson referred to “members not following the rules” and a disruptive guest without rights to be present. Attempts to interview Paterson were unsuccessful.

The St. Johns County GOP Vice Chairman, Jaime Parham, provided his account of the events leading up to Paterson’s 911 call. Parham stated that the call was made because Paterson insisted that individuals standing during the meeting be seated. Parham argued that adults should be allowed to decide whether to sit or stand and that asking individuals with medical conditions violated the Americans with Disabilities Act. In the 911 call, Paterson requested a deputy to escort the standing individuals out and expressed his belief that the deputy was unwilling to engage. Parham claimed that Paterson also shoved him during the meeting and expressed his intention to press charges for simple battery. Forrest Parham, James Parham’s brother, alleged that Charles Williams had thrown James Parham’s phone to the ground.

County Commissioner and former REC Chairman, Roy Alaimo, expressed his lack of surprise regarding Paterson’s actions based on their past work together. Alaimo characterized Paterson as having difficulty dealing with disagreement and wanting to remove those who disagree with him. He expressed disappointment in the current state of the local party under Paterson’s leadership and believed that the party needed to move in a different direction.

Chair of the County Commission and former REC Vice Chairman, Christian Whitehurst, voiced his disappointment over the situation. He criticized Paterson’s tone and language, stating that Republicans should support law enforcement but questioning Paterson’s beliefs.

State Senator Travis Hutson criticized Paterson, deeming him dishonest and unethical and stating that the St. Johns REC deserved a better leader. Brandon Patty, the St. Johns County Clerk of the Courts, also believed that change was necessary to restore the party’s focus on electing Republicans. Patty referred to the party’s current state as lacking vibrancy, success, and mission focus, claiming that the current chair undermined fellow members and law enforcement while pursuing his own agenda.

Reference: Florida’s Voice