Trouble In Tulsa: 1st Congressional District Complaint

(Steve Dickson)   The following story was first reported by The McCarville Report this morning (May 3rd, 2012).
A political party is governed by rules and procedures. When rules and procedures are not followed the will of the members is not represented. One of the most basic and fundamental principles of the Republican Party is adherence to the Rule of Law. In our Republic, the Rule of Law (a republic) protects the minority from tyranny of the majority (a democracy). Similarly, the Rules of the Republican Party should be held as the “law” governing the party. When violated by those in power, action must be taken. In this case, it is – GOP State Chairman Matt Pinnell is quoted in the McCarville report saying “We are reviewing the complaint and talking with all parties involved. Ultimately it’s an issue that may be addressed at State Convention.”

Oklahoma has 43 National Delegates to the Republican National Convention. Three of those are RNC members: the Chairman, the National Committeeman, and the National Committeewoman. Three are chosen at each of the five District Conventions, and 25 are chosen as “at-large” Delegates during the State Convention (to be held on May 12th). On April 14th, the First Congressional District Convention was held at the Renaissance Hotel and Convention Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Here is a video of what transpired:In response to the events shown in the video, the following complaint was filed with the 1st Congressional District Committee. It should be noted that the complaint was submitted by Tulsa County GOP Chairman J.B. Alexander:

*Republicans from Oklahoma’s 1st Congressional District do hereby submit the following complaints in regard to the 1st District Convention held on Saturday, April 14, 2012:
– Complaint No. 1: In violation of the Rules of the Oklahoma Republican Party (16f) the following occurred: The 1st Congressional District Chairwoman, Grace Farmer, failed to receive the reports of the Credentials Committee and the Rules Committee and instead held the Election of the Convention Chairman at approximately 9:15 AM in the absence of an established quorum and any duly adopted Credentials or Rules Reports and in addition, prior to the scheduled close of Convention Registration. Subsequently, the Convention Chairman, Jim Williamson, proceeded with the Credentials and Rules Reports as well as the further organization and business of the Convention.

– Complaint No. 2: In violation of the Rules of the Oklahoma Republican Party (18e) and the Rules of the 1st Congressional District Republican Convention (VII.A) the following occurred: The Election of Delegates and Alternates to the Republican National Convention as well as Presidential Elector and Alternate were not called for or announced by roll call vote by each County.

– Complaint No. 3: In violation of the Rules of the Oklahoma Republican Party (19b) and the Rules of the 1st Congressional District Republican Convention (III.B) the following occurred: A recess until 3:00 PM was duly motioned, seconded and adopted by the Convention. At 3:00 PM, a motion from Jake Peters was made to “suspend the rules and re-enact a modified version of the same rules, in which the remaining offices shall be filled through a live runoff among the top two vote-getters for each position” in the interest of sparing time since each “instant” ballot was taking almost an hour to count, positions were being declared won by as little as a half-vote margin (which would, under any normal election, trigger a recount and take an additional hour), Convention Rules stressed that we had to adjourn by 2:00 PM or risk penalties by the hotel, Delegates were uncomfortable having the ballots counted at a later date at an unspecified location and this motion would have allowed the Convention to finalize the election transparently and prior to adjournment. The Convention Chairman ignored the main motion and asked for a quorum count. A point of order was made by Jake Peters as to the motion already made and the point of order was denied by the Convention Chair. A simple head count was made in which the result was 138 Delegates present and the Convention Chairman ruled that there was not a quorum which he defined as 186 Delegates. Further points of order were made regarding the Rules that require the quorum be calculated with the weighted delegate votes and the Convention Chairman refused to acknowledge them even going so far as threatening to have Delegates ejected by the Sergeant at Arms. In addition, even had a simple head count sufficed for the calculation of the quorum, State Party Rule 19b states that “once a quorum is established, a quorum shall be deemed to be present until fewer than two thirds (2/3) of the original quorum remain” which based on the Convention Chair’s ruling that the original quorum equaled 186 Delegates, a quorum should have been deemed to be present until fewer than 124 Delegates remained.

– Complaint No. 4: In violation of Roberts Rules of Order Newly Revised (11th ed.), pp. 348-349 the following occurred: Jake Peters appealed the ruling of the Convention Chair that no quorum existed and was seconded but the Chair refused to state the question and instead replied, “You can appeal the ruling of the Chair until the cows come home but the business of the Convention, we are going to be in recess until they announce the final vote. That’s what’s gonna (sic) happen.”

– Complaint No. 5: In violation of Roberts Rules of Order Newly Revised (11th ed.), 73 and pp. 650-652, the Rules of the Oklahoma Republican Party (3a) and the Rules of the 1st Congressional District Republican Convention (VIII.E) the following occurred: After the Convention Chair ignored another point of order and threatened to eject Delegate David Tackett for making a point of order, Jake Peters addressed the Chair with a motion to remove the Convention Chair but the microphones had been turned off and the Chair did not recognize the motion. Jake Peters then addressed the Convention Delegates and made a motion to remove the Chair which was seconded and then adopted by the Convention body. However, the Convention Chair ignored the carried motion and continued to preside over the Convention. Jake Peters then called for nominations for a new Convention Chair from the Convention body. The body nominated Jake Peters and elected him unanimously but the previous Convention Chair ordered the Sergeant at Arms to eject Jake Peters further in violation of Robert’s Rules requiring a majority vote by the assembly.

We, the undersigned registered Republicans from Oklahoma’s 1st Congressional District, do hereby respectively request an impartial review of the complaints herein and would pray that the Oklahoma 1st Congressional District Committee take appropriate action including the removal and replacement of the 1st Congressional District Chairwoman and Vice-Chairman pursuant to the Rules of the Oklahoma Republican Party. Furthermore, in light of the numerous rule violations that occurred as detailed above, we pray that Oklahoma’s 1st Congressional District Convention be reconvened in order to conduct the convention business in a manner consistent with the Rules of the Oklahoma Republican Party which require the seating of delegates prior to electing permanent officers and organization of said convention and also require a Roll Call vote by County to determine the election of Delegates and Alternate Delegates to the Republican National Convention as well as Elector and Alternate Elector.
The complaint was rejected by a 14-3 vote of the 1st District Committee. It now goes to the State GOP for consideration, and resolution at the upcoming State Convention.

The timing of a resolution to addressing this complaint is outlined in the Rules of the Republican Party:

Contests: Resolution by States

All contests arising in any state electing district delegates by district conventions shall be decided by its state convention or, if the state convention shall not meet prior to the national convention, then by its state committee. Only contests affecting delegates elected or selected at large shall be presented to the Republican National Committee; provided, however, if the contest regarding a district delegate arises out of the irregular or unlawful action of the state committee or state convention, the Republican National Committee may take jurisdiction thereof and hear and determine the same under the procedures provided in Rule Nos. 22 and 23.
Both Tulsa County Chairman J.B. Alexander and State GOP Chairman Matt Pinnell (who are not Ron Paul supporters, it should be noted) are to be commended for their efforts to address these issues. Also to be commended are those who have chosen to follow the rules established by the Republican Party to resolve disputes. The election of National Delegates, Alternates, Electors, and Alternate Electors is one of the most serious tasks we face as members of a political party. There have been too many instances of “issues” in too many States, and it is time for them to stop.

It is time for all sides to play by the rules, and abide by the results.

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