As Governor Ricketts preps his first State of the State address, we are currently looking at what some might compare to Franklin Roosevelt’s “court packing” going on in the Douglas County Republican Party (DCRP).
Unbeknownst to many members, more than a dozen members of the DCRP Central Committee were removed and replaced over the past few weeks.
In general, many of these booted members generally sided with Chairman candidate Brandon Petersen, and against Chairman candidate Jon Tucker. Tucker is a RonPaulite compatriot to current Chair Bryan Baumgart.
But here is the kicker: of those kicked off the Central Committee, many were not even notified that they have been chopped.
Where does this come from?
Well, in the party bylaws, a member can be removed for missing three meetings. However, at that point there is usually a discussion by the Executive Committee as to whether a person should be removed — and then that person would be contacted and could, if they wanted, give a defense for their absences (asked to be excused, had an emergency, didn’t receive proper notification, meeting held wasn’t formal, etc.).
Apparently in this case, no discussions were held, and instead the committee was later packed full of Tucker comrades. And we understand that the new members haven’t even been vetted or discussed by the full Executive Committee — as has been the course of conduct in the past for replacements.
The fact that this comes immediately before a party election (next Tuesday) gives it the stink of manipulation and the reek of something that Tammany Hall would have pulled off in turn of the century New York.
Was it all done “legally”?
Ah, nothing like getting the lawyers involved, yeah?
Or, ya know, there could have been a discussion.
But what fun would THAT have been?
(This is the kind if stuff you won’t be getting at the State of the State…)
We will be watching and keeping the party faithful updated.
**UPDATE at 11:45am 1/22/15**
We were contacted by DCRP Chairman Bryan Baumgart, and he asked that we post the following response:
I don’t typically read this blog, but I was directed to it this morning by some Exec Comm members that were concerned about the inaccuracies and encouraged me not to leave them unchecked.
Let’s start with the DCRP Constitution and its bylaws on membership.
“A vacancy in the office of any member of the Central Committee shall exist upon the happening of any of the following events: (3) with respect to members of the Central Committee, three unexcused absences in any twelve-month period. Excused absences from Central Committee meetings shall be granted at the discretion of the Chairman”
The purpose of this clause is to avoid a situation in which the party becomes ineffective because it cannot take action due to failure to meet quorum. This was the case repeatedly in the past as a large number of new members are elected at convention, but then never show to a party meeting or event after. (As insiders know, typically this is the result of the various factions packing delegates onto slates in order to help elect more members sympathetic with their side.) This clause remedies the problem by enacting automatic removal for three absences. It does not require a vote or discussion and despite what was asserted in the original post, the Exec Committee does not review each person removed for absences and vote on whether to remove them or not. That kind of subjectivity would not be healthy for the party. Therefore, I closely stick to the rules laid out in our Constitution and members failing to show or request an excused absence for three meetings are automatically removed per the Constitution, without discrimination. However, it has been my practice to grant excused absences whenever requested, whether they were warranted or not.
That brings us to the seats that have been vacated. Seats have been vacated each month due to members voluntarily resigning them or moving out of the legislative district, etc. New members have been appointed by LD chairs to fill those seats each month (not just the past two weeks as suggested). To clear up false information in the original post…there have been FOUR meetings since members were seated at County Convention in April. (August, September, October, and December). The Exec Committee voted to make the August meeting optional. The Exec Committee also voted to move the November meeting to December 2nd so it could be held in conjunction with a Christmas Party. That meeting was moved and announced in compliance with the DCRP Constitution which states “Each member of the Central Committee shall be notified at least ten (10) days prior to all meetings, in writing of the time, date and place of each meeting”. It was also one of the best attended meetings we held. That left September, October, and the December meeting to draw three unexcused absences from.
The seats vacated since the December meeting (third meeting) were members who were voted to their seat back at County Convention in April, but then never attended a meeting, nor called for excused absences. They hadn’t participated since being seated, nor indicated they planned to. Only these members who went completely MIA were removed.
I feel asking these people to now vote for chairman of the DCRP would be absurd. In fact, keeping them on actually violates the DCRP Constitution AND risks not meeting quorum for the election next Tuesday. It’s the reason these rules exist in the Constitution. On the other hand, we’ve got new members that actually want to be active and play a part in choosing the Chairman they will be working with. It only makes sense to welcome them.
That brings us to the new members who were seated. Let’s take a look at the relevant portion of the DCRP Constitution: “When the County Convention is not in session, any vacancy on the Central Committee arising from any cause shall be filled in the following manner: the legislative district Chairman shall fill the vacancy within thirty (30) days after notice thereof is given to the respective legislative district Chairman.”
This is exactly what was done. LD Chairs appointed members to fill empty seats within 30 days, as directed by the Constitution.
As for the accusation of “manipulation”. The rules were closely followed so that there would be no manipulation or accusations of merit. I didn’t contact a single person to be on the central committee myself. When someone contacted me requesting to be seated on the Central Committee, I first verified that they were a registered Republican in Douglas County, then checked to see if there was an empty seat in their LD. If there was not, I added them to the list for future adds and notified them, letting them know they could be added in the future at the discretion of their LD chair. If there was an opening in their LD, I emailed the respective LD chair letting them know, “so and so” requested to be seated in your LD and I passed along the contact info with a note asking them to let me know if they approve or not. In some cases LD Chairs got back to me and approved and the new members were added. In other cases, the LD Chair didn’t approve and that member was not seated. Not once, did I myself solicit any new members (though it would be within my right to do so).
All seats vacated were done so without discrimination and in strict adherence to the Constitution. All members added were done so by LD Chairs per the Constitution, and without coercion. In addition…both candidates for Chairman received updated membership lists as changes occurred (both at the same time).
This is the way it has been carried out for the past two years of my term. In strict adherence to the DCRP Constitution. Apparently, one of the candidates must feel they won’t be favourable to newly seated members and feels justified in stirring the pot and making false accusations.
We then followed up with Bryan, asking:
1) were those who were kicked off, notified this was being done, so as to dispute if they wanted to?
2) was the Executive Committee consulted on the new members?
As i point out in my comment, the Exec Comm doesn’t and hasn’t reviewed who is removed and who isn’t on a case by case basis. That kind of subjectivity would invite criticism and accusations of foul play. For example, currently the exec comm leans in favor of Tucker supporters who could, if wanted, approve the removal of any opposition while keeping his supporters. Not a good situation.
Finally, we asked:
OK, so the Exec Committee wasn’t consulted.
Doesn’t the Constitution say that removing a member will be done with consultation of the Exec Committee?
Also, to confirm, Central Committee members, who you found missed meetings, were kicked off without being notified, correct?
And he responded:
No, the Constitution states that 3 unexcused absences by members automatically results in removal. It does so like I just said, to prevent bias in picking and choosing who will be removed and retained by the Exec Comm. I think the part you are getting confused is the part that says if a member has six absences (even if excused) in a 12 month period, then the Exec Comm sits down to review whether it is appropriate to keep the member on if they aren’t able to participate. That’s the only time the Exec Comm would review. To discuss if the excused absences were warranted. We have not in the past and did not this time, meet to discuss members being removed. That happens automatically per the Constitutuion.
I do try to notify members if they have been removed by the Constitution due to absences. Anyone not yet notified will be. The Constitution doesn’t require it, but I try to as a courtesy.
So, there are a few open questions:
We have been told that in the past it has been the course of conduct that the Executive Committee DOES look into whether a Central Committee member should be dismissed and then who is replaced.
Baumgart says that’s not the case, and all he did was follow the letter of the Constitution.
But here is a murkier issue.
Baumgart says he doesn’t have to notify someone if they’ve been booted off the Central Committee, but that he tries to as a courtesy.
Well, what is the mechanism then for someone disputing whether or not they SHOULD have been kicked off?
For instance, let’s say I asked for an excused absence, and received approval of that from the Chairman. Was that verbal? Handwritten? Emailed?
Is that recorded in meeting minutes? We would think that is the ONLY way one could or should get the boot. How else could anything be confirmed?
A phone call? How can you verify?
A handwritten note? What if the dog eats it?
An email chain? What if it gets deleted, any number of ways.
What if your child is hit by a car on the way to a meeting, so you didn’t ask to be excused beforehand? Is that excused?
Well, if you are not notified that you have been kicked out, then HOW can you dispute it?
And what is the current record keeping process?
We already have commenters suggesting that a DCRP Central Committee member DOES have proof of an excused absence, but was STILL kicked off.
So what is the process for dispute?
One would sure hope that such a process is in place before an election takes place.
And another point:
Baumgart points to the Constitution where it says, “…any vacancy on the Central Committee arising from any cause shall be filled in the following manner: the legislative district Chairman shall fill the vacancy within thirty (30) days after notice thereof is given to the respective legislative district Chairman…”
But…when does that vacancy arise?
The moment someone misses the third meeting?
But then that puts us back into all the questions above, if not others.
Look, we get it. There was a hard strategy put in place to get members in who are favorable to a certain candidate. Now we would suggest that in this party setting, it makes more sense to get others to your side of the aisle using persuasion, instead of bum-rushing the door.
And we also get another point: you want to be on the committee? Then show up at the meetings.
But there a number of open questions that simply pointing at the party Constitution don’t answer.
We will let them hash it out on Tuesday.