Arbitrary 5 p.m. cutoff, early shutdown of Oregon’s delegate selection process lead Polk County GOP to formally criticize state counterpart
DALLAS – “Elected, willing and capable PCP’s, attending CD 5 on June 23, 2012, were obstructed from exercising their duty to represent their precinct constituents, being denied full access and time to vote on all agenda items.”
So begins the first of a list of sixteen grievances against the recent conduct of the Oregon State Republican party’s current leaders.
The Grievance Committee document was approved overwhelmingly, by a 30-5 vote of Precinct Committee Persons (PCPs) attending the August 13th Polk County Republican Party meeting.
Local Republicans took the previously-unheard-of action to approve the list in its entirety, as it was presented to them, as a means to formally protest the actions by ORP Party Chairman Allen Alley and the state party’s Executive Board at the June 23rd presidential delegate selection Congressional District conventions.
The main thrust of the Grievance Committee’s complaints includes two key points.
Precinct Committee members were:
- Denied the rightful vote to select Alternate Delegates to the Republican National Convention; and,
- The subsequent use of arbitrary power by the State Party Chair and Executive Committee to secretly appoint Alternate Delegates in a closed meeting (with security guards hired to keep others out) the following weekend in Eugene.
Every four years, delegates are selected from qualified candidates to represent the apportioned Oregon Republican voters’ presidential vote preference. Any Oregonian who has been a registered Republican for 180 days can run for the positions, but must have filed with the ORP by the deadline date and time, their signature on an application form pledging support to their candidate well in advance of the CD conventions.
The controversy, which spawned the specially appointed Grievance Committee, arose as the meetings were summarily terminated at around 5 p.m., before the Alternate Delegates were voted for by those hundreds of Precinct Committee people still present at the five CD Conventions.
There is no dispute that the PCPs are vested with the power and responsibility to elect all the delegates, including all of the Alternate Delegates.
At about 5:07 p.m. Congressional District 5′s Chairman Jeff Kubler announced the meeting was adjourned. Polk County Republicans are within the 5th CD’s boundaries, and thus were officially invited to attend and vote at the West Salem High School location for that CD event.
At the moment when the meeting was being abruptly cut off, ORP State Chairman Allen Alley, who attended the Salem CD5 convention, stepped to the podium and reiterated that the meeting was concluded. He emphasized that no further voting would take place.
Alley also said he had the authority to set the time of the meeting and declared the meeting adjourned.
A large protest followed by many of the remaining Precinct people. Most of them came dashing to the front to question and object to the action. Former legislator Kevin Mannix even collected about 90 names of those protesting the early cutoff.
UPDATE: Contacted recently, Mannix refuses to divulge the list. He said he used it to protest the adjournment in a letter to Alley, which he also refused to reveal. He stated that he has “moved on.”
The week after the convention, Mannix, a former State Party Chair himself, was appointed as an Alternate Delegate to the Republican Convention.
VIDEO: A motion for early meeting termination is made by the chair of Cong. District 3 (CD3) convention (the Multnomah County area). It shows how those assembled dealt with it.
Grievance Committee an outcrop of meeting’s early termination
The list of grievances was assembled by a specially appointed Grievance Committee. It is comprised of seven party members appointed by Polk County Chair Thompson at the July Polk GOP meeting.
The presentation of the grievances to the regular August Polk PCP meeting was made by party member and Dallas Attorney Steve Mannenbach. He brought 35 copies of the grievance list, as well as voluminous documentation citing references for committee members to digest.
In presenting the list to members, Mannenbach opened his presentation by asking how many grievances our nation’s historic Declaration of Independence contained. When no one was able to come up with the correct answer, he responded: “There are twenty-seven distinct grievances.”
Mannenbach continued: “One grievance against the King was ‘for suspending our own legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.’ “
He then likened this to what happened at the District conventions, in the fact that “the State Republican Executive Committee declared themselves invested with powers belonging to duly elected PCP’s.”
He added a quote from Thomas Jefferson: “An honest man can feel no pleasure in the exercise of power over his fellow citizens.”
Concerning the June 23 event, Mannenbach queried: “Did dishonest men by fiat usurp our right to vote for delegates by declaring their right to select as having higher authority than our right to elect as representatives of our respective districts?”
Committee member and PCP Mel Conrad commented at an earlier Grievance Committee meeting how she made a valiant effort on her own to get in touch with someone, anyone from the state level of the party. She was in search of an explanation of what she had witnessed at the convention.
Conrad made numerous calls to the state headquarters, not able to reach anyone live during business hours, but only able to leave voice mail. She started expanding her effort, calling others involved at the state level.
She then started to email. “I bracketed the people [involved] to try and get a response,” she said, and added: all attempts “were unsuccessful.”
That became grievance number eleven.
PCP and committee member Alan Minton, who additionally leads the Polk County 9/12 Tea Party group, believes that whether or not the RNC rules on the legality of the Alternate Delegates being seated in Tampa makes little difference.
He said: The action by state leaders “certainly was immoral.”
Minton added: “They can try and justify it all they wish, but I can’t justify it.”
At the meeting, PCP Mike Nearman criticized Grievance number 13, a criticism that mentions National Committeeman Solomon Yue’s wife having been appointed as an alternative delegate at the secret followup State Executive Board meeting in Eugene the week after the convention.
Nearman’s claim is that this is vindictive and personalizing the document.
He went on to add that he would have voted for the list had that section been removed.
It was not mentioned that Debbie Nearman, his wife, was also appointed as an alternate delegate at the same Eugene meeting. She will go to Tampa representing Mitt Romney with Mike accompanying her.
All told, the Grievance Committee held two meetings in July. Some of its members also met with members of the Yamhill County Republican committee assigned with a similar task. Members of other county parties around the state are also known to have similar complaints.
It is not clear at this time if any have taken official action.
A part of the bigger picture
Updated: Correction of numberrs below
The Oregon Republican Party chooses to handle the logistics by holding five separate meetings, one in each of Oregon’s Congressional Districts. County PCPs can then participate in casting votes for delegates at a location closer to home. Where statewide delegate selections are concerned, the combined meeting votes are tabulated together from all five locations.
Oregon has 28 voting delegates of the total 2286 votes to be cast for the Republican presidential nominee at the Republican National Convention. The 28 votes are divvied up based on the popular vote percentages for each candidate which is the result of the May Republican Primary Election.
Of those Oregon delegates, the popular vote directs that 21 votes be cast by elected Delegates in support of Mitt Romney, three Delegates for Rick Santorum, three for Ron Paul, and one for Newt Gingrich.
At the Republican National Convention in Tampa Bay, each vote will be cast by an individual elected to do so from each state’s delegation in a similar manner as Oregon.
If a 50%-plus-one majority is not selected on the first ballot, voting continues for as many rounds as necessary to determine a Presidential nominee. Past the second ballot, however, (should it come to that), the Delegates are no longer “committed” to vote for the individual they were sent there to represent and may legally switch their vote to the candidate of their choice.
State Party given 30 days to respond
Back to the August general Polk County Central Committee meeting, a follow up motion was made by PCP Ted Campbell, and unanimously approved, to give the State Party 30 days to respond to the grievances.
In addition to being published here, the grievances will be forwarded to state GOP leaders. Any response will be also be published at GOPPolk.org.
Meanwhile, it was unanimously voted and approved that the Grievance Committee work be continued as an ongoing Task Force.
Chairwoman Helga Thompson re-appointed the same members to be on the new committee, citing the quality of the work already performed and the size of the group being an effective number.
Can Republicans still work together?
After the meeting, the Chairwoman marveled at how far the Polk County’s party has come since the high of the 2004 General Election, when Polk County had its first ever and highly successful election headquarters, to the low of 2005, when not a single meeting was held that entire year…and then to the arguably all-time high participation level of late.
Not only are people showing up in large numbers, but she added that they are now participating in record numbers in committee activities, including participation in being a part of the above committee. Having a packed meeting room in the vacation month of August is a case in point.
Another member commented on the seeming disconnect between a local party getting its work done in helping to elect Republicans and at the same time, protesting the actions of the ORP leadership:
“It’s simple. We can walk and chew bubble gum at the same time. The best thing we can do to make being a Republican more attractive is to work toward an ideal of justice, whether within or outside of the party boundaries.”
Local Republicans have made great strides over the last two years in increasing visibility and participation, culminating in the opening of a new party headquarters in Monmouth in June.
- Only one of the seven members of the Grievance Committee was a primary supporter of Presidential candidate Ron Paul.
- Paul has been cast by some state party leaders as the bogeyman and reason for justification of its drastic actions during the June convention.
- It is estimated that in the Polk County Republican Party, Ron Paul supporters number less than ten out of about 107 PCPs elected to the two year term that began after the May 2012 Primary election.
- Of the 188 PCPs that attended the District convention, approximately 50 were from Polk County, including many new members just elected to the local party for the first time.