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A Court Victory for Republicans in Texas

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Wednesday afternoon in Harris County Texas, Judge Tom Sullivan issued a temporary restraining order to a group of Republican delegates and party officials seeking to force the state Republican convention to comply with Texas election law and elect officers for the convention before conducting other convention business. A further hearing on the case will be held on Monday, June 9 to discuss charges of irregularities at various county conventions. The State Republican Convention is scheduled to start in Houston on the 12th.

The suit was initiated by convention delegates and county party officials led by Debra Medina of Wharton County, but they were soon joined by others from all over the state who were concerned that the Republican state convention would follow the practices of previous years and conduct most of its business under the authority of unelected temporary officers, which is a violation of state election law.

The Credentials Committee appointed by these temporary officers has been meeting in advance of the convention and is considering a move to challenge and potentially disqualify the entire delegations from Nueces, Parker, and Galveston counties where Ron Paul supporters had won delegate seats far out of proportion to his showing in the primary voting. They will be meeting again next week to decide if these delegates should be disqualified.

While many of those involved in the suit were activists associated with the Ron Paul campaign, the suit also attracted many concerned mainstream Republicans and party officials who believe that the way that state conventions have been run in the past gives too much power to entrenched interests and limits the input of the party rank and file. They are all worried that with party insiders running the convention the Credentials Committee report will be passed without a fair hearing or any kind of floor vote, disqualifying many delegates unfairly, and that delegate participation in the convention will be restricted to virtually no input at all as has happened in other states. This is an issue which bothers regular Republicans who want to have a meaningful convention as much as it does Ron Paul supporters who may find themselves kicked to the curb.

Plaintiff Kay Fischer who is a delegate from Corpus Christi in Ron Paul's congressional district, commented, "Based on past performance and history of the Texas Republican Party Convention, I am afraid that the rules will continue to be violated and the rights of the delegates will be abused."

As it stands now, the court order will require the convention to hold officer elections as one of the first orders of business before proceeding to the adoption of any of the committee reports. Monday's hearing may add more specific instructions and requirements to compel the convention to comply with state law.

While this ruling certainly marks a major victory for Ron Paul supporters and other pro-liberty activists in a primary season which has given them much frustration, it is also a necessary response to long-standing problems in the Texas Republican Party which have limited participation and tightly limited power to an elite faction largely dominated by the religious right. With any luck convention attendees will see a more open and accessible process next week than they have in many years.

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About Dave Nalle

  • Lumpy

    Amusing how the paulbots are all over your other article with tons of outrage yet are ignoring this more upbeat one.

  • Wanda

    This is an answer to many hours and months of prayer and hard work to move Ron Paul to the National GOP convention.

    I send my heartiest congratulations to the truly Patriotic and dedicated people who boldly faced the Goliath of the entrenched corrupt Republican Party infrastructure, and persuaded the court to rule against that corruption and in our favor.

    God bless all the work of your hands and make all your plans to succeed!!!

  • Irene Wagner

    I had been holding my peace, Lumpy. Now I have a FRIENDLY place to put my comment. A video is worth a thousand words. Don’t miss the footage where a Ron Paul supporter has the Ada County Republican County Chairman in a half-Nelson.

    Now for the thousand words. This isn’t the State convention – it’s one of the county conventions (in the state capital) but it’s an indication of how things at the June 12-14 Idaho State Convention might go, hopefully. The list prepared beforehand by the Party was discarded, and, after some opposition, a more equitable delegate-selection method, proposed by a state legislator, was approved by a majority of those present. Per the proposal, the county body broke out into legislative districts, many of which had a majority of Ron Paul-supporting precinct committeemen, elected in Idaho’s recent primary. Per the proposal, the voting members of each legislative district selected 5 delegates from the district. Also, per the proposal, it was left to the County Chairman to fill the remaining delegate seats with people who had a long history of working with the Republican Party—a subset of the people whose names were on the originally proposed list, essentially.

    There were models in other states which the Ron Paul supporters in Idaho’s Ada County followed to successfully, decently and in order, join in the ongoing efforts of libertarians and Conservatives to return the Republican Party to its principles—starting at the state legislator level—away from the corrupting influence of lobbyists and neoconservatives. In another county, unfortunately, Ron Paul supporters returned a pre-approved list of delegates, distributed at the beginning of the meeting, back to the County Chairman in the form of folded paper airplanes. Though I did not approve of their methods, I could understand their frustration.

    Ron Paul got 24% of the vote in the Idaho primary. It wouldn’t have been fair for all of the delegates to be Ron Paul supporters, neither was it fair for them to be completely shut out of the opportunity to be or vote on delegates. A reasonable compromise was found in Ada County. In addition, many Ron Paul supporters volunteered for and were elected to legislative district posts, just as many of them are now serving in long-vacant precinct committeemen posts. Most of the old-timers (excluding the neocons, of course) were delighted at the shot in the arm the influx of Ron Paul newcomers is going to give the Party. “This is just the way the process is supposed to work,” one of the Old Guard told me after the meeting, “different ideas, being discussed and debated in a civil atmosphere. I’m not threatened by you, and I’m looking to working with all of you.”

  • BNuckols

    You have it backwards — the same people who filed the lawsuit are the ones who want to throw out delegates.

    The temporary committees meet in open session and are appointed by permanent officers — the ones we elected at the last convention, per the rules.

    Anyone who is a delegate or alternate may attend the temporary committee meeting or the Permanent Committee meetings. The permanent committee members who — represent each Senate District –are elected in Senate District Caucus on the first day of the Convention. Then, the permanent committees meet that night. (Again, open meetings.)

    We never adopt the Committee reports until **after** we elect the officers.

    Can some one tell me how having another day to debate, to meet — usually for the first time as a whole — in our Senate District caucuses to deliberate and choose our representatives and to hear the candidates for all the offices speak — can shut down debate?

    On the other hand, changing the elections to the first session will prevent us from hearing all the candidates, from questioning them as fully as we could have.

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    You have it backwards — the same people who filed the lawsuit are the ones who want to throw out delegates.

    Not exactly. The ones who filed the lawsuit want to throw out the pre-selected slate of delegates to national. The other side (as said in the article) wants to throw out already elected delegates to the state convention from several counties and replace them with alternates.

    The temporary committees meet in open session and are appointed by permanent officers — the ones we elected at the last convention, per the rules.

    Except that the meeting times and dates are not publicized and some of the committees did in fact meet in closed session and refused to allow anyone except for committee members into the room. This did, in fact, happen with the credentials committee and I believe it is one of the issues being raised in court.

    nyone who is a delegate or alternate may attend the temporary committee meeting or the Permanent Committee meetings. The permanent committee members who — represent each Senate District –are elected in Senate District Caucus on the first day of the Convention. Then, the permanent committees meet that night. (Again, open meetings.)

    To be correct, they are SUPPOSED to be open meetings, but are not and are in fact in violation of the Texas Open Meetings Act.

    We never adopt the Committee reports until **after** we elect the officers.

    Not true at the SD conventions. I was at the SD 14 convention and reports were adopted before officers were voted on. From the allegations upheld in the suit, this appears to have been the case in 2004 and 2006 at the state convention as well.

    Can some one tell me how having another day to debate, to meet — usually for the first time as a whole — in our Senate District caucuses to deliberate and choose our representatives and to hear the candidates for all the offices speak — can shut down debate?

    Ok, there you’ve got me. I think that the ultimate ruling may allow all sorts of things like speeches to take place before new officers are voted on, or at least it should.

    On the other hand, changing the elections to the first session will prevent us from hearing all the candidates, from questioning them as fully as we could have.

    It’s debatable how effectively candidates can really be questioned from the floor. The problem is the lack of general delegate input in the committee process.

    Dave

  • BNuckols

    Dave, you are mixing apples and oranges. While there may have been problems with some of the Senate District/County Conventions in March, the State Convention does not meet until next week. The meeting times for the temporary Credentials Committee are published at the website. That Committee will meet Wednesday and Thursday, and the permanent Committee will meet Thursday night.

    The rules under which we are working were passed by the delegates at the ’06 Convention. I voted for them. You – or anyone – can read them.

  • http://www.elitebloggers.com Dave Nalle

    All I know is that two sources from opposing sides of the controversy have told me that committees have had meetings during recent weeks, prior to the officially scheduled meetings next week, ostensibly because of the unusually large volume of work which had to be conducted. I”ll contact some committee members and see if I can get some hard info from someone involved.

    Dave

  • Jeremy Blosser

    Jumping over from the other post per your reference; sorry, I don’t regularly read your site and am just trying to keep an eye on the news flow on this story.

    The Credentials Committee appointed by these temporary officers has been meeting in advance of the convention and is considering a move to challenge and potentially disqualify the entire delegations from Nueces, Parker, and Galveston counties where Ron Paul supporters had won delegate seats far out of proportion to his showing in the primary voting. They will be meeting again next week to decide if these delegates should be disqualified.

    This is not factually correct. Please allow me to clarify.

    The Officials Committee (OC) of the Republican State Republican Executive Committee (SREC) is called into service by RPT Rule 27(b)(2) to “conduct a preliminary review of each challenge in order to establish whether the basis for the challenge is valid under the Rules of the Republican Party of Texas.” This SREC was elected at the 2006 State Convention and has nothing necessarily to do with the temporary officers of the convention, except that by Party Rule Chairman Tina Benkiser is on the OC and by State Law is the temporary chair of the convention.

    Further, the challenges in those counties has nothing to do with who anyone voted for in the primary. It may be true that “Ron Paul supporters had won delegate seats far out of proportion to his showing in the primary,” because that’s true a lot of places, but it has nothing to do with what happened next. All of the challenges related to those counties have to do with rule violations and are detailed (including full challenge text).

    Anyway, the OC met a couple of weeks ago to do their work. Next week the Temporary Credentials Committee has their first meeting to determine what recommendations to make to the full convention on these challenges. Only the full delegation has the authority to make a final decision. We do not particularly fear these challenges not being heard by the floor, the concern (and cause for the suit) is that if they continue their historic pattern they will not resolve these challenges before doing significant party business, including electing the SREC and nominating the State Chair for the next cycle (go to the top of my post to see how this practice tends to protect itself.)

    The Monday hearing has been postponed, by the way. The TRO stands for now.

    More coming in a bit but I want to post this first to hopefully clear this up. BNuckols is right on most of this.

  • Jeremy Blosser

    I should have noted… when the OC met it was a closed meeting. I know, I was one of the people not allowed in.

    Mixing quotes from posts above and the other comment thread, sorry, trying to get to all of this:

    IMO the wrost abuse – which I reference in my other article – is the violations of the open meetings act when the credentials committee refused to let Ron Paul supporters sit in and observe their proceedings. A clear and blatant violation of Texas law.

    These are party meetings and not particularly subject to open meetings/etc. regulations. They *are* subject to Party Rule, and RPT Rule 14 makes every meeting of any committee or subcommittee of the State Convention open to all delegates and alternates. They are claiming they could go into executive session because RPT Rule 8 allows the SREC to do so under limited conditions, but that is a general rule trumped by 14 for anything to do with state. It should also be noted we were not allowed access to the meeting even before they held their vote to go into ES. We have filed a challenge due to this as well.

    The ones who filed the lawsuit want to throw out the pre-selected slate of delegates to national. The other side (as said in the article) wants to throw out already elected delegates to the state convention from several counties and replace them with alternates.

    Absolutely not true. Sorry. “The ones who filed the lawsuit” want fair votes by the convention on the resolution of challenges that raise some very serious issues. There is no pre-selected slate of delegates to national that we are aware of; there will be one coming out of the National Nominations Committee at State, but no one I know has suggested throwing the whole thing out (why would we before we know who is on it?), nor does this suit go anywhere near that questoin.

    “The other side” are not the ones filing the challenges against the delegations that broke the rules. It’s more fair to say the lawsuit people and the people challenging delegations that broke the rules are the same, though there are different individuals in each. They definitely agree with each other on these things.

    I assume that’s on the agenda for Monday’s hearing. If anyone has contacts among the plaintiffs I’d love any info I can put into an article about the outcome of the suit.

    Send an email to the contact us link and I’ll give you my phone number.

  • Jeremy Blosser

    Can some one tell me how having another day to debate, to meet — usually for the first time as a whole — in our Senate District caucuses to deliberate and choose our representatives and to hear the candidates for all the offices speak — can shut down debate?

    On the other hand, changing the elections to the first session will prevent us from hearing all the candidates, from questioning them as fully as we could have.

    I imagine this may be a common misunderstanding of what is going on here.

    The historic order has been:

    1. general session without business
    2. SD caucus
      1. hear speeches
      2. elect SREC
      3. elect permanent committees
      4. nominate State Chair and Vice-Chair
    3. general session
      1. hear challenges and vote on resolution
      2. elect convention chair
      3. elect State Chair based on nominations from SDs

    Do you see the problem here? We do business and elect people before we decide who is allowed to vote.

    The order required by TEC is:

    1. elect permanent chair
    2. resolve challenges
    3. do whatever

    So the only place you potentially don’t get to hear speeches in your caucus is for the convention chair. That may be unfortunate, but it’s required by law and the compelling interest in knowing who gets to vote before we vote is pretty clear in my opinion.

    See also this piece which is from one of the affidavits and states it very plainly.

    I hope this helps.

  • Sheila

    The light finally comes our way! Let’s continue to move forward, it seems that John McCain’s inside support is dropping like a rock. Hang in their Ron Paul Delegates, you just might get the entire Republican party cheering that you fought so hard for the ethics of the base of the party! You truly don’t know what can happen at a GOP Convention in St. Paul. It is a perfect location for a uprising and last minute party bonding to reconsider the loss of the White House and U.S. Presidency to the United Nations in an Obama win.

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    Jeremy, thanks for clarifying that info on the committee meetings. I must have misunderstood her information on which committee was meeting. I assumed from the fact that they were vetting delegates that it was the credentials committee. I wasn’t even aware that the Officials Committee had a role in that. It’s all somewhat complicated and the stories in the media don’t always make things as clear as they could.

    I think you misread my point on the disenfranchisement business. I didn’t mean to suggest that it was the basis of any of the legal actions. I just put it out there as part of the context of the whole business. I think that it is a genuine concern to a lot of the mainstream republicans that because of the participation of the Paul supporters they’re getting squeezed out.

    I’ll send you an email.

    Dave

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    Um. In looking for contacts on this issue at the RPT I don’t find any ‘Officials Committee’, but I do find an ‘Organization Committee’ is that what you were referring to?

    Dave

  • Jeremy Blosser

    Um. In looking for contacts on this issue at the RPT I don’t find any ‘Officials Committee’, but I do find an ‘Organization Committee’ is that what you were referring to?

    No, I mean Officials. They don’t make this very straightforward.

    If you want the rabbit trail, start at the RPT site, and find the RPT Rules under “GOP Resources.” Search that for “Officials Committee” and you will find several references, all of them relevant to this issue.

    The Officials Committee is referenced by those rules without actually being created by them; they are themselves a standing sub-committee of the SREC, created under the SREC bylaws. Those aren’t published online anywhere I know of but I can email you a copy if you want.

    The Party doesn’t list Officials anywhere in the talk about the State Convention online because they see them as entirely part of the SREC, even though they are basically pressed into service as a temporary-temporary Credentials committee for the Convention. This allows us to resolve the chicken-egg problem that is resolving credentials challenges. Which comes first, the vote on challenges or the vote on the roll? Party rule and TEC together stipulate:

    1. challenges go to the pre-existing party chair
    2. she forwards them to the pre-existing SREC officials committee
    3. they review them and forward them to the temporary credentials committee appointed by the pre-existing SREC and pre-existing party chair
    4. the committee recommends the non-challenged temporary roll to the SREC
    5. the SREC meets as another temporary state convention committee and sets the temporary roll
    6. the state convention, constituted under that temporary roll, elects a permanent chair
    7. the temporary credentials recommends resolution to the state convention, at that point still constituted as the temporary roll
    8. the state convention, still operating under the temporary roll, resolves the challenges and votes itself the permanent roll

    Clear as mud? :-P

    See RPT Rules 27, 33, and 35.

  • Lumpy

    Wow. That’s just fucking retarded. Is it made so arcane specifically to discourage oversight and input?