Guest Post: Part 3, Links in the chain – Examining the Oregon Conventions of June 23

Posted on July 23, 2012 by

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[5440 note: the last in the series of examinations of the Oregon Conventions, cross posted from The Whitestick Papers. Part 1 is here. Part 2 is here.]

In Part 1 of this linked blog post, we looked at the hierarchy of applicable rules and how they will be used by the Republican National Convention’s Committee on Credentials to determine which Delegates and Alternates to seat from Oregon.  A case was made for the links in the chain underlying the Oregon Republican Party’s (ORP) actions and claim to being the official delegation.  That’s pretty well laid out there so it won’t be repeated here.  The point of this blog is to examine the claims of an alternate Delegation as they’ve been presented in email, social media, online blogs and news magazines.

There’s little, if any, dispute that the election of At-Large Delegates, Congressional District (CD) Delegates, Electors and CD Officers were done according to the applicable rules.  No matter which side of the dispute you’re on, those votes are accepted without question, even if they weren’t the ones you might have preferred.  Since all seem to be in agreement here, we’ll move on to the point of divergence.

That is, of course, the adjournment of the District Convention at 5:00pm June 23.

The principle claim is that Allen Alley, Chairman of the ORP, doesn’t have the authority to set an arbitrary time for Adjournment.  The claim is it was done in response to Ron Paul supporters having won a majority of the Delegate positions and a last-ditch attempt to protect the apparent nominee, Mitt Romney.  A plethora of conspiracy theories, rumors and the like surround this claim, and some or all of them may be true.

Remember, however, that the point of this is to gain credentials at the Republican National Convention different than that presented by the ORP.  Just claiming something is invalid doesn’t automatically mean it is; you’re going to have to prove it to the Committee on Credentials.  So, the question comes down to what facts support this fundamental claim.

Most of the rules-based rationale for claiming the adjournment was illegal seems to derive from Congressional District Rules (CR) 1.1, which reads:

The only business of the Conventions shall be the selection/election of Oregon delegates to the Republican National Convention and the election of officers of the Congressional Districts and the nomination Presidential Electors. No issues or other matters shall be formally considered.

The argument goes that, since the District Convention didn’t complete the process, any effort to close the meeting before the business is accomplished is therefore invalid.  This, of course, declares that the Convention Rules aren’t silent on the issue of when the meeting adjourns and, as a result, Robert’s doesn’t apply.

Following this assertion, then, is the conclusion that elections held in the various Districts after the Adjournment were, therefore, valid and in full force.  Only these people, therefore, are legitimately “duly elected” the proper Alternates for Oregon to send to Tampa.

The next link, then, is to review the election process of the Districts after the Adjournment.

  • CD1 adjourned having completed the Delegate, Officer and Elector elections.  No further elections were held, and no reports were sent to the other Districts concerning which people had been elected in the CD Delegate election, as required by CR 7.1.1 through 7.1.4.
  • CD2 voted to extend the meeting and conducted elections.  However, it neither received results from nor released results to the other Districts.
  • CD3 failed to pass a motion to extend and stopped conducting elections.  No reports were sent to the other Districts concerning which people had been elected in the CD Delegate election.
  • CD4 was adjourned by the presiding officer and then re-convened by the 2008-2012 Vice Chair.  It should be noted that, according to CR 9.4, the newly-elected officers assumed office upon adjournment so there’s some question as to whether he could preside over the extended meeting.  Elections were held, but it neither received results from nor released results to the other Districts.
  • CD5 was adjourned and the people left the building as the venue needed to be cleared by 5:00pm.  In the parking lot, the 2008-2012 Vice Chair conducted elections, but it neither received results from nor released results to the other Districts.  The Vice Chair was also replaced during elections and, as a result, was no longer a CD officer at the time she was conducting the elections.  There is also some question as to how ballot security (required by RNC Rules and ORP Bylaws) was maintained in a parking lot and whether a quorum (per Robert’s Rules of Order, 50% + 1 of those credentialed) was still present and, therefore, whether business could be conducted.

The lack of communication between the Districts during balloting after the Adjournment is problematic.  As mentioned, the Convention Rules clearly require that those elected on an earlier ballot be removed from subsequent ballots.  But, because the link between them was broken at about 5:00pm, none of those Districts which extended their local meeting received the results of the CD Delegate elections, much less those of the At-Large Alternate elections.

Spelling out the links in this chain, it comes down to this:

  • The election of At-Large Delegates and Alternates occurred in compliance with all applicable Rules and Bylaws.  Again, everyone seems to agree on this.
  • Under CR 1.1, the Adjournment was invalid.
  • Alternate elections in three of the five Districts are the only valid ones (there doesn’t seem to be any position on who’s legitimately elected as Alternates in the other two).  There are issues with the presiding officers in two of these three and no cross-communication between the voting Districts as required by CR7.1.

At the risk of being dismissed as an “Establishment hack”, this writer has to say the chain seems weak at best, and badly broken at the point of the elections themselves.  It’s also possible this doesn’t really reflect the argument being presented by those claiming the PCP – well, at least 40-45% of them – were “disenfranchised” by Team Romney and/or ORP Chair Allen Alley.  If so, they’re welcome to respond.

Until then, though, this looks to have a poor chance of being accepted by the Republican National Convention Committee on Credentials.  Maybe these folks need to work on a stronger presentation.   And that, at the bottom line, is the point of the discussion.

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Posted in: Opinion, Oregon