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RPV names director of African American engagement

Marlene Jones | 6/12/2013, 11:37 a.m.
The Republican Party of Virginia (RPV) and the Republican National Committee wants to engage blacks in a big way this ...
Rev. Joe Ellison

— The Republican Party of Virginia (RPV) and the Republican National Committee wants to engage blacks in a big way this election cycle. To this end, party leaders have named Rev. Joe Ellison, Jr. to serve as the Virginia state director of African American engagement.

In his role, Ellison, a local Richmond pastor, will reach out to black-based organizations, institutions and community leaders to "establish positive working relationships with Republican Party leaders, candidates and elected officials."

The Republican vision is that the program creates dialogue between political and community leaders to "find common sense, practical solutions" to the issues communities in Virginia face.

Ellison, a former chaplain at the Richmond City Jail, is the director of pastoral relations and church ministries for the Virginia Pastors Coalition, an outreach of the Virginia Christian Alliance. Ellison has also served as the Chairman of Mayors Commission on Youth Violence and on the Richmond Raceway Advisory Committee. In addition, he was appointed to White House Commission on Faith Based Initiatives by former U.S. Sen. George Allen.

"Republicans across the spectrum have shown a renewed commitment to opening dialogue with communities that haven't traditionally been a part of the GOP coalition," said Ellison. "I'm excited to be a part of this effort.

"African Americans generally share far more values with the Republican Party than they realize - a belief in strong families, hard work, and the desire to build a better future for our children. I'm excited to be a part of this effort, and look forward to working with my fellow Republicans toward victory in November."

Ellison also said that the future of the Republican Party "must be built on sharing our conservative ideas with all Americans, not just traditional supporters" who tend to be white.

The RPV is looking to retain the top three state political positions, including that of the governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general.

"The Rev. Dr. Joe Ellison, Jr. brings years of experience in political grassroots organization and community engagement and will be a great asset to our efforts to reach out and connect in communities across the state to share why Ken Cuccinelli should be our next Governor," said RPV Chairman Pat Mullins.

Ellison is not without controversy. In 2007, he was forced of his chaplain position at the Richmond City Jail following sexual harassment allegations brought on by four female volunteers. Ellison was never charged and said that the allegations were trumped up against him in a sinister move to push him out because he refused to betray the trust of deputies who complained to him about Richmond Sheriff C.T. Woody.