On June 27, 2015 the RPV State Central Committee will meet to decide on the issue of Convention v. Primary in 2016, but they are also considering substantial revisions to the Party Plan that are worth further scrutiny. [read_more]
Most importantly is an odd line thrown in a small portion of the proposed changes that will have significant (perhaps unintended) consequences for the transparency of RPV going forward if enacted.
The good (and innocuous)
The Party Plan Committee has a series of approved Amendments up for consideration on June 27. There are many provisions about avoiding conflicts of interest, and some other housekeeping items that do not appear to me to be controversial.
There are two changes in particular that I find particularly helpful:
First there is an anti-slating provision. This provision prevents slating in instances when fewer delegates apply than the total number of delegate slots. It took a year to get this on the table, but credit is due for getting this to a vote. This is not quite as strong as the “Fairfax Rule” but it is much better than what we have now.
Article VIII A 10
At any convention or mass meeting which elects delegates to another convention, and in which no more than the maximum number of delegates that can be elected have prefiled, an individual otherwise properly prefiled and certified as eligible to be considered as a candidate for delegate to a convention may not be removed from the list of qualified delegates except by a challenge which must specify the individual name(s). Any challenged person must then be allowed an opportunity to refute such challenge, with the result determined by a two-thirds (2⁄3) majority of the members of the Mass Meeting or Convention.
Second, there is a provision making it logistically substantially easier for a delegate to the state convention to submit amendments to the Party Plan. You currently have to inform the entire SCC in order to get your Amendment considered. The amendment streamlines the submission process.
Amended to allow for an easier notice process if a delegate to the state convention wishes to amend the party plan. The old way required a notice to be sent to each unit Chairman and member of the SCC. The new way only requires that the proposed amendment be submitted to the State Chairman and Secretary.
Here is the troublesome provision:
Article V J 1
Voting members of official committees shall conduct their personal and professional activities with honesty, integrity, respect, fairness, and good faith, in a manner that will reflect well upon the State Party, avoiding even the appearance of impropriety. They shall hold as confidential all party information, documents, and communications intended for limited dissemination or use. They shall put the interests of the Party ahead of their own self interest. They shall exercise their best efforts to conduct the business of the Party with reasonable care, skill, and diligence.
It does not look so bad, but let us look at a case study to see where this ends up.
We have a contentious decision coming up for a vote by SCC regarding a Primary v. Convention in 2016. RPV appears to not be considering the logistical issues attendant to a Convention. I speak to pro-convention members of SCC who express knowledge about the process, but significant questions about the remaining details. I publish a logistical analysis. Chairman Matt Ames of the Fairfax GOP publishes a letter to RPV Chairman Whitbeck expressing grave concerns about the logistics for his unit if a Convention is selected. He identifies a “Nomination Process Committee” and a “Party Process Committee Report.”1 We learn for the first time that RPV has been thinking about logistics all along. The report is not public, and as of the time I published my article appears not to have been disseminated to the SCC. We have yet to see what is in this report, and apparently know of the Committee’s existence, purpose, and report due to Ames’ letter. Moreover, the report remains unavailable to members of the SCC not on the Process Committee.
In this instance, benefits could be obtained through transparency and problems arise in the case of restrictions on information. The more secretive RPV is, the worse the outcome.
- Who, on the SCC does not want an explanation of how the convention process will work logistically before taking a vote?
- Who, amongst unit Chairman does not want SCC to have complete logistical information about how the Convention process will work before the SCC votes?
- Who wants RPV to remain in such a shroud of secrecy as to prevent whistleblowing of impropriety?
- Who wants RPV to make all decisions behind closed doors and then only allow regular partygoers to know about them after the decisions have been made?
These are all unintended consequences of the following line:
They shall hold as confidential all party information, documents, and communications intended for limited dissemination or use.
This line, in conjunction with other provisions of the plan can allow for the ouster of SCC members and Congressional District Chairs for merely discussing “ze pawtee bizness wit ze common people.”
We should be encouraging openness, in order to engender confidence in RPV.
Strike the line from Article V J 1.
P.S. Notice I did not post a link to the Party Plan Committee Report. I have it, but simply do not know if it was “intended for limited dissemination or use.” Only the agenda is available via the RPV website.
- In a conversation I had with Chairman Ames after his letter was published he relates (and I firmly believe) that he did not know who the membership was of the Process Committee and he was not aware that the Process Committee Report was not made available to the full SCC.