The Berks County Patriots group is one of the largest grassroots patriot groups in the country. In many ways, the group is a microcosm and now a nascent blueprint for the populist transformation of the conservative party in communities across the U.S.
This is a story of a rural community whose citizens have been met with resistance from the very party they thought had their backs. Their answer has been a refusal to cower.
Across the nation, many conservative activists now realize their liberties are being crushed from within their very own party. Many are now organizing themselves locally around a fresh mandate to fix the problem.
Dan Schultz’s Precinct Committeeman project is just one example of the tactics that will help people respond to the daunting task of meeting the challenges ahead. UncoverDC wrote a story in February on the Precinct Project that mirrors the obstacles now challenging the people of Berks county.
Dave Vollmer, Jr. and his friend Maureen Murphy first contacted UncoverDC at the beginning of April. The story being told here has been in the works since that time. Vollmer has described for UncoverDC the mindset and resistance he has encountered and what he has done to address the challenges. This article will explain how he and others are now mobilizing to empower neighbors to reclaim their rightful liberties and fight for the issues that meaningfully impact their communities.
Vollmer, who calls himself a “serial entrepreneur,” met at the beginning of the pandemic with a local state Representative named Barry Jozwiak, who used to be a sheriff in Berks County, PA. Vollmer had recently sold his business, and seeing a need for masks, he started a mask company. He had to go through some state reps because Governor Wolf was a “complete dictator” because he was limiting what Vollmer could do with the manufacturing of the masks.
Many in the state were “crying for masks” at the time, so Jozwiak contacted Vollmer and eventually secured a waiver for the production of the masks. Jozwiak bought some masks for the House of Representatives in Harrisburg. He and Vollmer began to know each other on a more personal basis because of their shared goals, including a goal to protect the needs of law enforcement.
One day in the fall of 2020, Jozwiak asked him to attend a Lincoln Club meeting, which many in the local Republican party attended. The Republican County Executive Committee was in attendance, and Vollmer—who knew next to nothing about politics and its machinations—was set to attend for the first time. Unfortunately, the original meeting was delayed due to Covid, but in late January, Jozwiak again invited him to attend.
Prior to the January meeting, Vollmer discovered a Berks County Republican Committee meeting that he then attended with Jozwiak. At that meeting, Jozwiak introduced him to the County Chairman, Clay Breece, some regional chairmen, and other leaders in the conservative community. He saw a lot of potential in their pro-Trump agenda and decided to become more involved.
Most of the Executive Committeemen were present at the Lincoln Club meeting. He spoke with the county Chair and was then invited to a regional meeting, which he attended.
There are five regions in Berks County. He attended the East meeting where he met the Chairman of the East, Carl Sheetz. As it turns out, Vollmer realized that his region was actually in the South. With 432 positions in the count, Vollmer realized that only a handful were filled. So he filled out the paperwork, only to realize he had applied in the wrong region. A few years ago, they had split the region—95% of the precincts are in the East, with only one in the South region. Despite being in the South region, Vollmer and East Chair Sheetz would soon become allies in battle.
It was at that point Vollmer formally spoke with Breece. Vollmer had identified some areas of weakness in the region and told Breece he possessed several skillsets that might be useful to help grow interest in the party. He spoke with both Breece and his wife at the meeting. Vollmer explained that everything seemed to be just fine.
Breece invited him to the EC Board meeting, where Vollmer presented his ideas. Jozwiak and Sheetz were also present. He gave a quick 15-minute presentation to communicate what he had briefly identified as weak areas for the local party. One such weak area was the website. In Vollmer’s words, he noticed the following at the time:
“There were a number of things I noticed. The website is dated, not functioning well, lacks a lot of information, lacks ease for people to understand how to get involved. And the email system, which does not exist—goes directly to Clay’s personal email. He controls the emails and the email list. The social media needs help. Systems and processes can be improved and implemented very quickly to alleviate a ton of pain and time for all the volunteers. If they can spend less time doing things, they should.”
Vollmer thought everyone was excited about his presentation. Six or seven people immediately offered help. The next day he called Breece to talk more about how to move forward. Breece seemed hesitant, telling him he “could help here and there,” but any access to the website or social media “was not going to happen.” At first, Vollmer thought that Breece wasn’t on board because he had submitted nothing in writing. So Vollmer spent many hours putting together a 5-page proposal with specific action items for Breece to review.
Vollmer sent his proposal to Breece on a Monday morning, and by Tuesday, Breece called him and told him, “Dave, maybe you didn’t hear me the first time, and this I quote,” Vollmer continued, “You are NOT going to do ANY of these things unless I say you can. And you’re not going to do them at all.”
A fifteen-minute one-way conversation ensued. Despite Vollmer’s stated belief that he could have 2000 members signed up by the end of the summer, Breece told him point-blank, “We don’t want 2000 members. That’s a quote,” continued Vollmer, “Plus we can’t have 2000 members.” At the time, Vollmer naively didn’t realize there were only 432 spots available.
However, once Vollmer knew the parameters, he suggested to Breece that maybe a little healthy competition could be a good thing. His thought was to bring in as many interested people as possible and, from that pool, the best candidates could be vetted and chosen. Again, Breece told him, “We don’t want that.”
“I was baffled by this because here you have an organization that could change America, and now I am starting to see that this gentleman is not a true, America First agenda leader. This is a guy who wants to be a dictator like our governor, whom we all hate here, and he only wants to push his agenda.”
After that phone call, Vollmer decided not to go to the next EC meeting even though he had committed to attend. It was at that point his strategy began to shift. He sent the proposal to the other regional chairs—none of whom could understand why Breece was behaving so strangely. Since Vollmer hadn’t shown at the EC meeting, Breece called an emergency meeting to pre-emptively vote down all Vollmer’s ideas and to “bar him from joining and from ever becoming part of the local GOP. It was mindboggling,” Vollmer stated.
After that meeting, the Regional Chair in the South, Branden Moyer, called him, telling him that none of his ideas would ever be implemented and that “he would never be allowed to attend the meetings or become a member of the Berks County Republican Committee.”
Vollmer was completely flabbergasted. He told Moyer he could understand why he didn’t want to implement his plan, but he had no idea why the committee would bar “a guy who has a ton of time on his hands and wants to help.” Moyer repeated that Vollmer would not even be able to sit at the meetings because he “just wasn’t a good fit.”
During that conversation, he suggested to Moyer a scenario where Vollmer might go to the local paper and tell them what the local party was doing to bar local citizens from participation. Vollmer explained to Moyer that he had never caused a stir or controversy. He had only submitted fresh ideas.
After the conversation, Moyer reported to Breece that Vollmer was threatening him. Breece called another meeting, and Carl Sheetz in the East Region was present. After that meeting, Sheetz invited Vollmer to come to his meetings despite Vollmer’s precinct not being in the East Region.
One by one, Breece, who is now becoming increasingly involved at the State GOP Party level, has banned Vollmer, alienated numerous regional chairs, shut down committees and subcommittees whose members he doesn’t like, shut down calls to action, and has capriciously added rules that prohibit citizens in the GOP from participating in apps like Slack and social media platforms like Facebook when talking about GOP initiatives. Sheetz has resigned from three subcommittees, and several others have done the same.
Grassroots Solutions in Berks County Today
In short, the behavior on the part of the GOP County Chair has caused a “big ruckus” in the county. In some cases, alliances have formed; in others, separate movements have sprung to action.
The upshot of this experience led Vollmer to join the Berks County Patriots, one of the largest grassroots conservative organizations in the country. Sam Brancadora, the chairman of Berks County Patriots, and his wife Linda have been members of the group since 2010, and Brancadora has been Chairman since 2017. Brancadora met with Vollmer and decided to give him a chance. By his own admission, Vollmer’s approach with the Berks Patriots group has been more low-key and collaborative, and after months of showing up and pitching in, he has earned Brancadora’s trust.
UncoverDC visited the Third Thursday monthly gathering of the Berks County Patriots on June 17 and visited local citizens associated with it over the weekend. Billed as a “non-Partisan” group, it is “committed to restoring and promoting the conservative values and ideals espoused in America’s founding documents.”
The people attending this meeting show up in droves once a month to hear local speakers, activists, and politicians pitch their agendas.
People like Rick Crump, whose background in management consulting for Fortune 500 companies, was there. Crump is not interested in political infighting. A friend to all, it is his faith that has led him to action. He is so committed to preparing and training activists, he quit his successful job running KineticXperience and formed a new, non-profit organization called KineticFaith. KineticFaith leverages his years of experience with “six sigma, e-business, customer experience, and journey mapping to train interested citizens to be effective activists,” but with Judeo-Christian faith-based principles as its foundation.
Crump calls it a “Resolutionary Movement.” Among his missions is to restore communities to a sense of agency and ownership—to change their mindset from one of reticence to one of active participation. He also hopes to help local communities return to “[running] their businesses free from restrictions and government overreach.”
Carl Sheetz, Chairman of the East Region and a mild-mannered man who genuinely tried to understand why Breece was so dead set against Vollmer, eventually invited Vollmer to attend his meetings in the East because of the stonewalling by the county Chair. He is now fed up with the way the leadership is treating him and others.
The minutes from a March 17 Berks County Republican Committee (BCRC) meeting were shared with UncoverDC from an anonymous source showing where Breece rescinded the vote to add Vollmer to the committee as well as language stating that all decisions and changes to the organization, all email lists, social media, and website platforms be controlled by the County Chair exclusively.
Nicole and Jamie Freed, who have 15 children with limited time to do much else, both became Precinct Committeemen for Oley Township. The tyranny coming from the Governor due to Covid, the implementation of Critical Race theory in the schools, and Breece’s shenanigans have all spurred them to action.
Vollmer is no longer interested in using his time and treasure to fight Clay Breece. He has now started an organization called The Save America Challenge that is still in its infancy. He is partnering with an established marketing expert, Bryan Dulaney, who, according to his website, is “one of the top marketers in the world for Tony Robbins and Dean Graziosi on their two biggest launches.”
Vollmer and Dulaney plan to make their mission figure prominently in the hearts and hands of activists nationwide. There will be a non-partisan, high-production-value 5-day summit in the Fall to activate people with the tools and training they need. Well-respected experts from various fields and specializations will be recruited to speak.
Dulaney is shooting for unprecedented participation of over 10 million people in the summit, a number he is sure to deliver. The theme of the summit will be a unifying call to save America. According to Vollmer:
“The plan for the save America challenge is to bring together people who support the America First and save America movement, to bring awareness to the problems and issues. It will provide the specific solutions and roles through training that will help Americans get involved and take action from the local level up to [the] national level. Specific Training will be provided on how to run for any office, step by step—with all resources needed showing citizens how to get involved with local committees and promote an America first agenda. There will also be training on how to get involved with local grassroots organizations to fight CRT and other issues at a local level.”
Finally, Maureen Murphy, a native New Yorker who moved out of the city when the pandemic became unbearable, has been, in many ways, the connector and home base for people in the community. She is an expert in big data, and her skillsets have been invaluable to the people there. One of her plans is to put an app in the hands of local activists that will inform them of issues and legislation and send citizen feedback back up to entities like legislative bodies and school boards. Her home has become the command center for the meetings and planning sessions that have arisen out of sheer necessity because of the county leadership.
The 2020 election has animated the return to an America where many causes and issues are now crossing party lines. Mothers are banding together to fight Critical Race Theory in Schools. Election integrity is igniting the passions of liberty-minded citizens everywhere.
The people of Berks County represent the heartland—the very people in America who Trump identified as the heartbeat of American exceptionalism. More often than not, it is their children who serve and die in foreign lands. These are the people who work in the factories and who own the struggling local businesses. They are farmers and homemakers. In the end, it may well be the “Berks Counties” of the country that unapologetically unify and save this great nation.