By George Miller
7-20-22, Fernandina Beach
Local We The People civic group sponsored a forum for District 4 Republican Congressional Candidates Dr. Erick Aguilar and Jon Chuba. It featured more and much more in depth questions than some previous local forums we attended, allowing better insight into candidates’ thinking/views.
Above pic (L-R), District 4 Congressional primary candidates Dr. Erick Aguilar and Jon Choba. Photo: George Miller, Citizens Journal Florida.
We the People President Deb Boelkes not only formulated thoughtful questions on relevant key issues, but included a few additional ones in advance of the event, held at Walker’s Landing. Original event listing HERE
Ms. Boelkes was a bit unhappy that candidate FL Senator Aaron Bean, who had committed to attend, later elected to ditch the event for a fundraiser in Jacksonville without even offering to send a representative or providing a statement to be read.
The questions were somewhat complex, so We The People sent us the text of them for publication. They are included below with a summary of the candidate responses.
Audience response was rather positive for both candidates. Both candidates sounded more Conservative than any others running in this race. Applause sounded stronger for Aguilar, who is more well known at this point.
Democrats and the Republican write-in write-in candidate weren’t even mentioned, so we will do so in a separate article.
Forum Questions & Responses
2 minutes to respond to each question, unless noted
Q1-Please tell us about yourself:
Where you were born?
Where do you live now?
Your family situation (i.e., married, number of children)
How long you have lived in this Congressional District (Duval County)?
Your current employment / position
Past / present elected positions
Do you have endorsements from any big names?
A- Aguilar- I am the America First Warrior congressional candidate. Born in Honduras, came to U.S.- Brooklyn, NY (NYC) at 7, raised there. Grew up poor. Mother worked at Trump’s Grand Hyatt. Joined navy at 21- very positive, broadening, experience. Went all over the world, came to Jacksonville in 2000.Went to Japan for 2 years in 2012. “Politicians are a bunch of crooks who do nothing- I want to do something. I want to be better for my son to be proud of.” Second marriage, first wife passed away. Education- MBA, doc management, IT Security, comp. info, history.
A- Choba- From Pittsburg, PA, great family (“progressive”), 1 brother. Family came to Jacksonville while he was in College, so he stayed there (10 years and counting). Education- Dusquesne University- Philosophy and Political Science major. Wanted to be a Catholic priest. He writes hospital contracts for Florida Blue. His wife is from Havana, they met in Jacksonville. He’s a Deacon at Terry Parker Baptist Church. Running because he’s upset with the political climate, election, Biden. He felt “called on” to run. Ran in “blue district,” then Tallahasse. Not wealthy, lacks “connections.”
Q2- Campaign Financing
Q2A- recent social media post said, “Congressional Candidates should have to wear jackets with names of their biggest sponsors, like NASCAR”. The Federal Election Committee (FEC) website (as of Saturday, July 16) showed the total Receipts/Cash on Hand for each Candidate was as follows:
- Receipts: $1,061,360
- 10,167 entries (average donation $104)
- LARGEST donations: 3 from Dr. Erick Aguilar @$135K, 3 from Defend Liberty (PAC) @ average $12K, 2 from WINRED @ $2900 (12 of the top 40 donations are from WINRED totaling > $9K), 2 from FE Gonzaga @$2900, 10 from $125 to $250, the rest from all over the country – most @ $25 to $45). Aside from the Defend Liberty PAC and Friends of Aguilar, only 12 of the top 100 donations are from individuals in FL).
- Cash on Hand: $812K
- Receipts: $346,308
- 228 Entries (average donation $1,520)
- LARGEST donations: 1 @$5K from Rayonier Advanced Materials Inc. Good Government Committee, 72 @ $2900 from FL individuals, 1 @ $2500 from FL Transportation Builders Assn, Inc Federal PAC, 1 @ $2K from Florida East Coast Industries LLC Good Governance Committee, most all from FL)
- Cash on Hand: $154K
- Receipts: $16,722
- 27 entries (average donation $619)
- LARGEST donations: 2 from Andrew Mayer totaling $5K, 15 from self totaling $3,500, 1 from Dean Black (Running for State House) @ $1K, three from PA & NC Chuba family
- Cash On Hand: $9,600
Q2A- For Erick Aguilar: Two-part Question on Campaign Finance: 1. What is “Defend Liberty” and “Friends of Erick Aguilar” ($500)? 2. Given you are just 45 years old (born in 1975), you spent 20 years in the Navy and retired as a Chief Petty Officer in 2016. You obtained a BS in Information Systems in 2001, an MBA in 2005, of Doctorate of Management in 2009, a Masters in History in 2015, and a Graduate Certificate in Information Security Mgt in 2016. Your campaign website indicates you also spent 16 years teaching at the undergrad, masters, and doctorate levels. That’s a lot of time in school, in addition to being enlisted in the Navy for 20 years. Your LinkedIn page says you have worked as a Tax / Financial consultant since 2015. Given all your time in the military and in school, where did the $400K+ come from with which you self-funded your campaign?
Q2B- for Jon Chuba: One Question on Campaign Finance: If you were to win the August primary, how will you manage your Congressional campaign for the General Election in November, with just $9600 cash on hand?
A- Chuba- GOP will step in to help. We’ll make good use of what we have. Don’t you budget with what you have? The government doesn’t. I do all this and still have $9.600. Running things good. We do save.
A- Aguilar- Did really well with the stock market, consulting on the side. He said he’s a “huge penny-pincher.” “What am I gonna do with the money? The best investment is America. We’re losing our country very quickly to people who don’t have our best interests in mind. Can’t Google to learn how to deal with them.” Less than 2% of political donations come from N FL.
Q3- On Friday, July 15, a Florida Politics article titled Aaron Bean Demands Probe of Opponent’s Fraudulent Fundraising, said, “Erick Agular was removed from the Republican fundraising platform WinRed after revelations he had been appropriating the identities of national Republicans like Donald Trump and Ron DeSantis in pursuit of small-dollar donations.” It went on to say, “Aguilar has reported raising over $1M for this race, with donations from around the country amounting to a big chunk of that sum…many of the donors contacted had no clue who Aguilar was.” Aaron Bean was quoted, “Erick Aguilar has been scamming seniors and others in FL and all across the country to get contributions to his campaign …. Impersonating Gov. DeSantis and President Trump in fundraising emails is shameful. It is also fraud and should be investigated at the state and federal level.”
(Ed. note: the story was broken by Politico Florida)
Q3A- for Erick Aguilar: From my brief experience with the WinRed.com app, it calls itself the “Official Fundraising Platform for the GOP” where (1) Donors can create profiles, donate to multiple candidates all at once, and track their donation history; and (2) Candidates or Teams can create campaigns to raise funds. Can you explain how WinRed really works and if it is possible to set up campaigns to fundraise for yourself, but use various PAC names or other candidates’ names, like Donald Trump and Ron DeSantis? In other words, is there no validation performed by the applicant to prove who you are?
A- Aguilar- Here we go again, using political leverage on me. They don’t like me because I expose them. (he didn’t specify who “they” is.). He has stated in the past that establishment politicians forces are going all out to stop “MAGA” candidates. WinRed (fundraising platform) didn’t give out my information. There is a big push for certain candidates to win. They claimed I was a Democrat for 4 years. Aguilar reserved special criticism for Florida Politics online publication, although the story initially broke on Politico Florida.
A- Chuba- I haven’t seen any bad articles about me- hardly any articles at all- smiles.
Q3B- for Jon Chuba: According to LinkedIn, you graduated college in 2010 with a BA in Philosophy (with minors in Political Science and Theology) and you got a Masters in 2018 in Healthcare Regulation. Out of college you worked 1 year for Verizon Wireless, then spent 2 years as a legal assistant, then the last 9 years as a Contract Analyst with Florida Blue, interpreting hospital contracts for commercial and government products and researching CMS (Medicare & Medicaid) billing guidelines. What is it that you bring to the table that will enable you to recommend meaningful legislation to solve some of the biggest challenges our country has ever faced?
A- Chuba- I’m a man of faith, have core principles and values. My education in philosophy helps me listen to opposing views. But I may not change views on things like pro-choice vs life debate. We need to learn to handle faith vs politics and not be at each others’ throats.
Q4- Why running? In 2017, a US Congressman from Colorado, Ken Buck (who has served CO’s 4th District since he was first elected in 2014) published the book, Drain the Swamp: How Washington Corruption is Worse than You Think. In it, he talks about the lavish parties, committee chairmanships for sale, pay-to-play corruption, backroom arm-twisting, votes on major legislation going to the highest bidder. As soon as he went to DC, he realized why nothing in Congress gets done. On his own words, “It was not because of political gridlock, but because Republicans and Democrats work together all too well to fleece the taxpayers and plunge America deeper into debt. It is an insular process directed by power-hungry party elites who live like kings and govern like bullies.”
Q4: Aside from attending lavish parties, getting rich, and having job security for decades, What are the three main reasons you are running for Congress, and how many terms do you intend to serve?
A- Chuba- I felt a calling. We need to take seats from Democrats, take back our country. Stop $1 million city council races. Downsize, give $ back to the People. I signed a three term pledge in house and two in Senate, because people change in Congress. I want to do as much for people as I can in Congress, then go home.
A- Aguilar- 12 years total in House/Senate combined. My values haven’t changed, will work for the People. I’m not a “party person”. Will have 24/7 job commitment- I prayed about this, got my wife’s permission. This is common sense, not rocket science. What is happening there is shameful, need to bring in good, strong people. Push service, not self-serving. The DC swamp shouldn’t change you.
Q5-Decertifying elections? The State GOP of TX has adopted a resolution, the AZ Maricopa County Republican Executive Committee (REC) rejecting the 2020 election results. Last week, the former WI Supreme Court Justice suggested the WI State Legislature seek to decertify the 2020 election results, as did Wisconsin Rep Ramthun (who is running for Governor, and Karen Mueller who is running for WI Attorney General. The US Constitution is silent on what is to happen if States decertify election results after a President has been sworn into office.
Q: What do you believe Congress (or the County) should do in the event enough states decertify their 2020 election results to retroactively disqualify Biden from winning the 2020 electoral vote?
A- Aguilar- States should have decertifying procedures. People who give the authority have the right to remove it Election integrity is near to my heart. Voter fraud is a big problem and it isn’t just the 2020 election. 60,000 registered Republicans never voted. It’s easy to take these registrations and vote with them. Some states even allow voter registration with driver’s licenses, which can be given to illegal immigrants. Secure the border. Illegal immigration can overpower elections. They never will say Trump won and that there was election fraud.
A- Chuba- Yes, I want a state decertification procedure. Believes election was stolen and that a special election was needed. Saw 2000 Mules movie (which documented ballot harvesting, drop box abuses and more). We don’t have a true President right now. Mail is sent to registered voters and it comes back- moved, vacant lots, abandoned buildings. Require every state to audit voter rolls. Ballots were sent to people not registered. Need voter ID, validate signatures, have every security procedure. I don’t trust the election system.
Q6: Do you believe the January 6 Capital protest was an insurrection; and what do you believe should be done with those who have been arrested and imprisoned for months without hearings, essentially their lives destroyed, for participating in the January 6th event?
A- Chuba- The Capitol actions were staged. But yes, the protestors reacted to it. Some didn’t act like Constitutional Christians. People were arrested, imprisoned, under unconstitutional conditions. Release them, restore rights, make restitution.
A- Aguilar- No such thing as an accident, It was staged. What led to that? People protested peacefully. The election was stolen. Biden cheated. Unlawful orders. Person at fault gave unlawful orders. Someone gave the order to open the Capitol. Some staged events. It was all politicized in prime time. A huge attack on MAGA candidate. All MAGA candidates are getting attacked. Protest was huge compared to BLM lighting cars on fire.
Q7: Who are your top 3 choices for Speaker of the House in 2023 and why? Please name names.
A- Aguilar- Jordan. Good heart, knows what is going on. Leftist reps don’t like him or The Freedom Caucus. Don’t play footsie with the Democrats. Majority of Reps may not be constitutional.
A- Chuba- Don’t have any special name. Look at their hands, hearts, what they have to offer. Rand Paul? (ed.: he’s Senator). Don’t know him personally.
Q8-Conservative Americans are sick and tired with a great number of things that we see going on—some for many years. I have created a list of 40 such items. Since we don’t have all night to discuss all these issues, please select a number from 1 to 40. I’ll give you that item, and I’d like each of you to define what you would do about it, if elected to Congress:
Items selected by candidates (by picking a number, blind choice)
Q8A- Allowing Medicare and Medicaid to deny payment to hospitals and health care providers if they don’t stick to FDA mandates
A- Chuba- They are allowing Medicare/Medicaid to deny payment if FDA mandates not followed. Disagrees with this. Find ways to reduce costs. Set up artificial groups, which would reduce them significantly. (Chuba writes health care policies for a living). The Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) raised costs, passed to taxpayers. Much red tape, waste, CMS. Biden added even more costs.
A- Aguilar- Same. Be smart about health care $- be more competitive. Obamacare is not competitive. Should never have the government manage anything. I understand why it happened. Dept. should be eliminated.
Q8B- The EPA
A- Aguilar- EPA has too much overreach. Conservatives care about the environment, but do it smarter. Green New Deal and its costs not serving anything. EPA can be more efficient. Need better policy. Big tool for climate change agenda.
A- Chuba- Go through the budget, where $ are going, less regulation, less $ to govt. to take control of our lives. We care about the environment, but EPA regulates excessively. I won’t know for sure until I look at the budget. Look at every single agency. Can’t continue (current course?) forever.
The next two Questions are straightforward issues where I’m just looking for a Yes or No Answer.
Q9: Will you pledge to We the People to push back on and vote NO on any House bill that is not within the limited scope of the legislative powers vested in the US Congress, as enumerated in Article I of the US Constitution? Yes or No?
A- Chuba- (Sounded like a qualified yes). Give powers back to the states.
A- Aguilar- Yes. Problem is that people won’t stick to it.
Q10: Will you pledge to We the People to push back on and vote NO on any proposed legislation that you have not been given sufficient time to vet? Yes or No?
A- Aguilar- Yes. Want a time period set. Stop “packing” legislation. Vote on items separately.
A- Chuba- Agree 100%. In line with Constitution, benefits we the People.
Last Question 1- MINUTE
Q11: What is your greatest strength and, if elected, what will you do and/or not do in 2023 that will make the voters of Nassau County happy that we elected you?
A- Aguilar- God gave me a lot of different strengths. Highlighted his ability to learn seek problems out, get to the root of them. We are so overregulated that one person can’t even read it all. I can show others.
A- Chuba- I’m a true servant. Too many seek power & money, not me. I take no money from PAC’s and lobbyists. I will be a true voice of the people.
Editor’s note: due to the large, rapid-fire volume of information covered and no video to fall back upon, just notes, it is possible we missed or misstated something. If you were there and differ, or just want to comment, let us know via a note to [email protected] or a reader comment.
George Miller is Publisher and Co-Founder of Citizens Journal Florida, based in Fernandina Beach. He is a “retired” operations management consultant, software and publishing executive and manufacturing management professional.