Below is a report I made to the Utah Republican Central Committee regarding certain rules changes at the Republican National Committee. Additionally, I'd like to make a few comments about the Convention proceedings themselves...I loved the tone of the Republican National Convention, what was said and how it was said... policy not personality was attacked, there was no mean spirited discourse (okay, I admit, Dirty Harry was a bit unusual). It was a stark contrast with the Democratic National Convention (with only a few notable exceptions) which was full of personal attacks and vitriol.
First, as it relates to the Business part of the Convention. When the rules were being voted on some believed the "fix" was in to pass the rules. Here are the facts... The RNC rules provide for a vote on any rules changes made by the Convention Rules committee on the first day of proceedings. There were some who disagreed with the results of the rules committee (even though the final result was overwhelming in favor of the rules changes). The rules allow for a minority report to be submitted to the Convention floor for a vote IF those wishing to present such a report are able to acquire the signatures of 25% of the Committee to bring forth such a report. They were not able to accomplish this due to the overwhelming support of the new rules (see below).
Second, it is been reported and shown on YouTube that the teleprompter already had the result of the rules vote pre-scripted. That is true. But why was it true? Because there was an effective "whip" organization that was able to determine in advance that the vote by the general convention delegations was overwhelmingly supportive of the rules changes. Some believe that the voice vote showed more dissent and should have brought the vote in question. However, being on the floor of the convention it was clear that the delegates entitled to vote (only those on the floor) overwhelmingly supported the rules change.
However, there was a very loud and boisterous group of dissenters who were credentialed as guests that sneaked into the alternate delegate seating area and voiced their opposition from that vantage point in the hall. From my personal vantage point it was obvious that the floor was overwhelmingly in favor, but a highly passionate group of non-voting "guests" were opposed. Much of the opposition was directly related to language that many of us objected to but which changed before the vote in the final rules committee and at the convention. Based on the emails and phone calls I received there was a lot of misinformation regarding the rules change. This is an attempt to clarify with facts to those who were "told" to object to the rules by several organized groups and other interested parties.
Finally, this was very different from what happened at the Democrats convention when they "attempted" to put God and Jerusalem as the capitol of Israel back into their platform. There you had a convention that intentionally removed these from their platform and even with the sitting president attempting to jam it down the throat of his convention, there was clear dissent to doing so. Congratulations to the convention goers at the Democrat Convention because at least they showed some integrity even in their incredibly misguided way.
Thanks to those who expressed their concern about the rules changes and who did so in a respectful and courteous way. I was highly chagrined that there were so many who felt the need to attack me personally for something for which they had no way of knowing the full facts. I am always happy to discuss areas where we may disagree but I hope we can do it without being disagreeable.
When all is said and done, our objective is to Save America from those who would move America away from the Republic and free society established by our forefathers. It doesn't mean we will ever have a perfect candidate to lead us in the right direction. But there is no question in my mind that it is imperative that we change direction now from where this president is leading us. Our ONLY chance of making that change is to Elect Mitt Romney President. To think otherwise is folly.
Report to the Utah State Central Committee Meeting Saturday, September 22, 2012, regarding the Changes to Rules of the Republican National Committee – August 24 – 27, 2012
First a note about the RNC Credentials Committee. This is a committee charged with evaluating any challenges made to the seating of delegates from the individual states. In the cases of challenges from Oregon, Michigan, and Hawaii, the RNC Credentials Committee concluded that the National Party had no jurisdiction as the State Party had followed their own rules.
In the case of a second Oregon challenge, and challenges from Washington State and Oklahoma it was concluded that the State Parties had acted appropriately and that voters were not disenfranchised by their rules, practice, or methodology.
Finally, in the case of Maine, it was concluded that “non-compliance with the applicable procedural rules was so widespread and fundamental in the election of the state’s congressional district delegates and alternate delegates, that the Credential Committee of the RNC, under Rule No. 23 had broad authority to fashion an equitable remedy”. They attempted to encourage the Parties to resolve the dispute…However those” negotiations were unsuccessful.” The Committee seated a slate of delegates using the best judgment and input from the Parties involved.
This background is important because it goes to the purposes of certain rule changes during the Republican National Convention. When certain people attempt to hijack the process of choosing delegates and representing themselves as delegates at a national presidential nominating convention it affects the entire process and the integrity of the body. The new Rule 16 may not have been necessary had some of those elected to represent the will of the people who voted in a binding presidential primary or caucus had not dishonestly represented their intentions to obey their party rules or state law.
To most of us, the powers of the State Parties should not be abrogated by the National Party. The Credentials Committee followed the idea of State Sovereignty explicitly. I was very pleased to see them abide by this principle even in the face of extreme provocation to do otherwise.
There were over two dozen rule changes and more that were proposed. Two were deemed controversial enough to incite a phone and email campaign. There are two members from each state and territory represented on the Convention Rules Committee.
The rule change that created the most controversy is what is known as Rule 16 (2). The original rule was presented by a member of the Convention Rules Committee who was also an attorney for the presumptive Presidential Nominee.
The attempt of the language was to address a very real problem – When a Delegate or Alternate Delegate is elected in a state that binds its delegates through a Presidential Primary, State Caucus, or other Party rule, that delegate should be required to cast their vote in accordance with the law and party rules and should not have discretion to vote for whomever they want. This is a first ballot issue and ONLY related to BOUND delegates. The language of this rule change had nothing to do with states that did not bind their delegates.
The language in the first modification was I believe, overly broad. Though the intent was valid, the wording was over reaching and infringed upon the powers of the State and State Party. It allowed the presidential candidate to “pre-certify or approve (d) the delegate or alternate delegate.” From the perspective of a presidential campaign who has spent millions of dollars to win a contest in a state this may have seemed reasonable that they would know who was supporting them or not, and should have a certification say in the matter. This language passed 51 – 39.
Some of us were uncomfortable with this language as it very clearly abrogated state party’s powers. An amendment was proposed to amend the rule by adding language “in consultation with state parties. This passed by a margin of 56 – 40.
This still was not enough for many of us and we attempted one last time as time was running out. The language changed once again to put back in the hands of the party the power to elect who they would in accordance with their rules but gave the presidential campaign a “disavowal” right if they believed a delegate would not comply with the State Party Rules or State Law. This also passed by a majority vote.
Needless to say this language still did not articulate accurately or fully a rule that protected the sovereignty of the State Party and/or State Law. This is the language that ultimately created a firestorm among many groups that resulted in personal email and phone numbers being inundated with many times rude and offensive language. There were two problems with this situation. First, there was misinformation that was sent out by several of these groups. Most did not understand that this rule ONLY affected states with BINDING rules or laws. That is a huge distinction in terms of how this rule should be understood.
Because many of us felt that the rule was still too rushed and therefore not properly drafted, an effort was made during the weekend prior to the convention to rewrite the provision to accomplish the goal of maintaining the integrity of the State and National process of nominating a Presidential Candidate.
The rules committee met the first day of the convention to vote on new language which clearly protects the Sovereignty of State Parties and States and takes away any judgment or input from a presidential campaign. It is based on the State Party rules and State Laws that govern binding delegates. The rule acknowledges those by simply complying with them at a National Convention. In a bound delegate situation, only the candidate votes that are bound will be counted, none others. This eliminates any judgment call or any meddling by outside forces. The language in full follows below.
Rule No. 16 (2)
For any manner of binding or allocating delegates under these Rules, If a delegate (i) casts a vote for a presidential candidate at the national convention inconsistent with the delegate’s obligation under state law or state party rule, (ii) nominates or demonstrates support under Rule 40 for a presidential candidate other than the one to whom the delegate is bound or allocated under state law or state party rule, or (iii) fails in some other way to carry out the delegate’s affirmative duty under state law or sate party rule to cast a vote at the national convention for a particular presidential candidate, the delegate shall be deemed to have concurrently resigned as a delegate and the delegate’s proper vote or nominating shall be null and void. Thereafter the secretary of the convention shall record the delegate’s vote or nomination in accordance with the delegate’s obligation under the state law or state party rule. This subsection does not apply to delegates who are bound to a candidate who has withdrawn his or her candidacy, suspended or terminated his or her campaign, or publicly released his or her delegates.
This rule passed 78 to 14.
This rule maintains the integrity of each state’s process of choosing its delegates and clarifies the manner in which bound delegates’ votes will be counted.
The other rule that had some controversy was the rule allowing for the Republican National Committee to make certain rule changes no later than January 2014. This is similar to a Rule passed four years ago which allowed the RNC to adopt certain new rules by 2010 in anticipation of the 2012 Presidential Election.
The original new rule 12 allowed for changes to be made by the RNC with a 2/3 vote. This passed by 68 to 34. Later Rule 12 was amended to require a ¾ vote of its entire membership. This threshold is so high that any rule change between now and 2014 would need to be very compelling and/or non-controversial. There was I believe only few dissenting votes on this rule change.
This is an important rule change because it allows the RNC, whose members are elected to represent the interests of their respective states and territories and who also have a fiduciary duty to the national committee, to make decisions in a dispassionate and deliberative manner to protect the process of choosing a Presidential Nominee. If the rules can only be changed at convention, the presumptive presidential nominee’s campaign will have a dominating influence on the rules, whereas if the rules may be amended two years before the convention, there typically will not be a presumptive nominee (unless there is a sitting president of the party). The party is able to adjust to the current circumstances based on what will serve the state and national party best and not a specific presidential candidate.
As your Utah National Committeeman I voted for both of these final rules.
They protect the integrity of our system of electing Presidential Nominees while protecting the grass roots voter, state party sovereignty and state law. It also allows the RNC to make adaptations to current conditions if the adaptation is compelling or non-controversial.
Thank you for your support and I am happy to respond to any questions you have.
Bruce R. Hough, Utah National Committeeman