Paula Whitsell of Chula Vista, second vice chair of the San Diego County Republican Party, posed with then-Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin at a party event in June 2019.
Paula Whitsell of Chula Vista, second vice chair of the San Diego County Republican Party, posed with then-Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin at a party event in June 2019. Image via Facebook

Tony Krvaric on Tuesday said he’s retiring as chairman of the San Diego County Republican Party after 14 years and will be succeeded in January by his second vice chair, Paula Whitsell.

But Whitsell can’t replace Krvaric without a Central Committee vote mandated by party bylaws.

In a Flash Report post, Krvaric said he announced to his party’s Executive Committee on Monday evening a “leadership team” that takes over in January.

Chairman Tony Krvaric spoke at the U.S. Grant Hotel after the March elections. Photo by Chris Stone

He said it would be Whitsell as chairman, Dustin Trotter as first vice chair, Brad Gerbel as second vice chair, Elizabeth Spillane as treasurer and Andrew Skale as secretary.

It wasn’t clear how such officers could be named in August, when the organizational meeting and election is mandated for December or January.

Bylaws also say: “The Committee shall elect a chairman. Upon election, the newly elected Chairman shall preside over the election of other officers in the following order: Secretary, First Vice Chairman, Second Vice Chairman and Treasurer.”

Krvaric didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Whitsell told Times of San Diego on Wednesday: “Thanks for reaching out, but at this time we are entirely focused on the upcoming elections. We can revisit in January when things settle down.”

Ron Nehring, the county GOP chairman before Krvaric, said Wednesday: “Tony was announcing his support for candidates to lead the party beginning next year. It was his announcement of support, not an election. The election will take place at the organizational meeting which follows the November election.”

Who is Paula Whitsell?

According to the party, she’s a small-business owner in South Bay who lived and worked in Brazil for 17 years before returning to the San Diego area in 1989 with her family.

“She has been active with the Chula Vista Bonita Republican Women as well as the San Diego County Republican Women since 2009,” Krvaric wrote. “She has been the Communications Chair for the Republican Party of San Diego, editing and writing for the monthly newsletter since November 2014. Having seen socialism in action while in Brazil, she is an activist voice for Republican values.”

Whitsell, who could be the first woman to hold the chair title in county GOP history, is the 66-year-old president of 15-year-old Leal Real Estate Group Inc., according to her LinkedIn profile. She’s also associated with Chula Vista-based American Mortgage Network.

The Better Business Bureau says her company “offers all phases of real estate, including listings, loans, sales and refinance, catering to the Hispanic community.”

Related stories:

In July 2011, she and her husband, Michael Gorski, were pictured in a San Diego Union-Tribune story about Chula Vista’s Home Upgrade Carbon Downgrade program.

A photo showed the couple with a sign inviting tours of their upgraded home as a “model of energy efficiency.”

Whitsell also serves on Chula Vista’s Mobilehome Rent Review Commission and was a member of the Measure P Citizens Oversight Committee.

Paula Sue Whitsell, a real estate broker, has been active in Chula Vista issues. Photo via Facebook

On Facebook, she says she went to Kemper Hall in Kenosha, Wisconsin — an Episcopal girls school for day and boarding students — and studied at the University of New Mexico.

In April, Whitsell wrote about a “reopen California” protest in downtown San Diego she took part in.

“The San Diego Police Department is to be commended for their coolness and patience with regular people out on the streets expressing their frustration with the prolonged COVID-19 shutdown,” she wrote on San Diego News Desk, sponsored by the county GOP.

In November 1992, Whitsell was the subject of news reports herself, telling how arbitrators with the National Association of Securities Dealers awarded her $1.15 million after she had sued her former employer, Wells Fargo.

That was the result of her wrongful arrest by FBI agents in October 1997. The government said an undercover agent deposited more than $10,000 with Whitsell – a securities consultant at the Chula Vista branch.

Due to a filing error, the deposit that Whitsell handled was not reported to federal authorities, as required by law. She and a teller were arrested on money-laundering charges.

“The FBI treated us like we were criminals and the bank refused to help us, even though we knew it had to have been some mistake that the bank had made,” Whitsell said at the time. “Between crying nonstop and trying to figure out what happened, the whole thing was a nightmare.”

A Union-Tribune story said: “After being subjected to half a dozen strip searches, the two middle-aged mothers were tossed into jail for two days, sharing a cell with a tattooed murderer who boasted how she and her boyfriend had just bludgeoned to death an elderly couple in Ensenada.”

A federal judge dismissed her lawsuit against Wells Fargo — saying she had signed an employment agreement specifying binding arbitration.

But she won at that stage and told the paper: “I’m elated. The first order of business is to pay off all our bills, since we’ve been living a lot on credit cards since all this happened. The money will be very welcome.”

In his announcement post, Krvaric concluded, “Politics is in my blood. Rest assured I am not going away but will find other ways to serve and advance freedom. I will continue to help San Diego County in any way that I am called upon.”

Will Rodriguez-Kennedy, Krvaric’s counterpart on the left, said: “The chair of the San Diego County Democratic Party sends his condolences to the incoming chair of the other Party.”

Updated at 8:50 p.m. Aug. 5, 2020

Show comments