Republican National Lawyers Association | (RNLA)
Republican National Lawyers Association | (RNLA)

Newsletter


The RNLA Remembers Members We Lost in 2017
-Mr. Michael Thielen

Photo - Mr. Michael Thielen
Mr. Michael Thielen
2017 has been a great year for current and former members in the Trump Administration. Former RNLA Judicial Affairs Committee leader Neil Gorsuch was confirmed to the Supreme Court, former RNLA Board Member Don McGahn is the White House Counsel, former RNLA Chair Randy Evans has been nominated to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, and current RNLA Chair Kimberly Reed has been nominated to be the First Vice President of the Export-Import Bank of the United States. Many other RNLA members have been nominated and many more are already serving in the administration.

However, it has not all been good. RNLA has lost many long-term leading members. Board Member Peter Schalestock passed away at only 49. Peter was a long-time leader and an expert on all areas of election law and was always willing to help the cause. One year, I asked Peter to fill in last minute for not one but two panelists at our National Election Law Seminar and he never hesitated. Peter was that rare person whom no one ever said anything bad about despite working in the competitive world of election law. Peter’s memorial service was attended by numerous leaders from Capitol Hill, the Administration, Federal Election Commission, and more, which was fitting for someone who did as much as Peter did for elections within the conservative Republican movement.

Another RNLA leader who passed this year was our long-time Ohio Chapter Chair Bill Todd. Bill was always smiling, always optimistic, and loved talking issues, whether it was an obscure election law issue such as provisional ballots or hot button issues of the moment such as same sex marriage. Bill died of pancreatic cancer but even bald from chemo treatments, he showed up at our National Policy Conference this past May, where he was again debating the issues.

Steve Yelverton may have been the first RNLA Life Member who was not on the Board of Governors. Steve just called me one year, said, “I had a good year and I want to help the RNLA,” and became a Life Member. For years, Steve was the happy warrior, always volunteering to help with open, fair, and honest elections. He will be sorely missed as he was a regular at all RNLA D.C. local events.

Kris Hammond was as eccentric as he was willing to engage everyone in a spirited conversation. Known not only for his legal skills, but also for hosting great parties, running for DCYRs, and DC Neighborhood Advisory Council, Kris was never boring. Early on in his career, Kris was volunteering at the RNLA National Policy Conference and manning the registration desk when a chief counsel of a key committee was checking in before he spoke. Kris started talking and left the conference with a job offer as the counsel’s deputy. Kris, also a regular at RNLA D.C. events, left us way too soon at only 43.

These legal leaders and good men will be missed. While RNLA continues to move forward, we would not be where we are today without the contributions of these men who passed this year.

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