Eichelberger: Facts don’t match story

I must set the record straight after reading the Altoona Mirror’s front-page story on

June 22 about a Blair County Republican Committee meeting where a change was proposed to its rules concerning the election of the party’s chair.

I am not on the committee and didn’t attend the meeting, so I was surprised to see a goodly portion of the article discuss what I did as chair 16 years ago.

The reporter spoke to John Urban, former GOP chair, by phone and was told a blatant lie about how I attempted to hold on to the chairmanship after serving three terms. He told the reporter that he beat me in my precinct election for county committee then stopped my effort to hold on to the chairmanship as a non-committee member. He was apparently attempting to make me look like I was involved in some underhanded plot to retain power. He said, “John was defeated and wasn’t even on the committee anymore. There were more maneuverings as a result of that … discussion of changing the bylaws so a non-committee person could be a chairperson … the same kind of stuff happening now.” This story was a total fabrication.

I checked the records to see the details of exactly what did happen 16 years ago and found a front-page Altoona Mirror story covering a news conference on March 7, 2002, where I announced that I would not seek election to a fourth term as county chairman. This was over two months before the May 15 primary election and about three months before the county committee’s reorganization meeting. The story included my comments about continuing to support the party financially, offering advice, if asked; and “allowing the new administration to run the party with no interference by me.”

I also verified at the Blair County Elections Office that my name never appeared on the ballot for my precinct committee position that year, so obviously, John Urban never beat me because, as I stated publicly, I chose not to run.

Why Urban would go out of his way to manufacture a lie about me, the actions of former committee members and the results of an election is very, very troubling. The current Republican Committee members should want to know if he did this on his own or was asked to do it by someone or some faction of the party. As an officer of the court and the county chairman who succeeded me in that position, he knew exactly what happened, but purposely chose to give this false statement to the newspaper.

John H. Eichelberger Jr.

Former Chairman

Blair County Republican Committee