By Guest Contributor Ken Cuccinelli
Now that the dust has settled from last week’s Republican National Convention (and as we are treated to Democrats’ display of their true colors this week), it is important that conservative Republicans understand what the controversial opening session last Monday was all about.
Below you will find all of the substantive amendments proposed by our group, and you can draw your own conclusions about what we were attempting to accomplish.
Conservative grassroots delegates from around the country, including more than 30 members of the Convention Rules Committee (out of 112), had been working together for months to develop what we hoped would be the most important overhaul of RNC rules in the modern era. The changes we were seeking to make were designed to decentralize power in the Party, and to increase transparency and accountability to the grassroots. Other changes addressed severe shortcomings in our nomination processes.
Importantly, none of our proposed amendments had anything whatsoever to do with the unbinding of delegates in 2016 – which seemed to be the only story reported in the media, despite its wild inaccuracy (yes, I know it’s shocking, but apparently there aren’t many in the media interested in getting the story right if it doesn’t fit their more exciting narrative…).
An average voter can be forgiven for thinking we were part of some other effort, given how nearly all the reporting inaccurately characterized our efforts as “anti-Trump,” unfairly conflating us with the folks who were actually working to unbind the delegates
To be clear, there were delegates who supported unbinding who also supported our effort, but not vice-versa. In fact, some in our group, such as Virginia’s own Morton Blackwell, were outspoken in their opposition to the anti-Trump efforts, and their votes in the Rules Committee showed everyone in attendance that we were focused on entirely different goals.
But don’t take my word for it – read through the proposed amendments yourself so you can make your own decision about what goals we were trying to pursue.
While our group had a significant number of former Cruz supporters (many of whom were themselves former supporters of others, such as Sen. Rubio or Sen. Paul), far from being anti-Trump, our effort was built on the efforts of an eclectic group of grassroots, anti-establishment conservatives who had also backed Trump, Kasich, and some who had not supported any candidate during the nomination contest. What bound us all together was a shared commitment to advancing the cause of the grassroots against the establishment in a year that looked unusually promising for anti-establishment forces.
Unfortunately, and for a variety of reasons I’ll let others debate, our efforts ultimately failed. But for the sake of setting the record straight, and so grassroots conservatives can know exactly what it was that the establishment-dominated RNC lobbied so vigorously to stop, below is a detailed summary of each of the rule amendments our group put forward. The amendments are grouped in seven substantive areas for the sake of clarity.
I should note that not every single member of our coalition supported every single proposed amendment, but the overwhelming proportion of our coalition supported every proposal that you see below.
It’s a bit long, so feel free to browse before reading my concluding thoughts at the end.
Please note that you will find many other amendments in the pdfs that are linked to this article that I have not discussed. If you have the patience to read those too, you will find that we proposed many more “clean up” amendments than I have referenced here. They don’t make substantive changes, but would do things like clarify voting in some RNC committees, provide job descriptions for some RNC positions, make language consistent across the rules, and clarify the voting schedule for various RNC positions that are not clearly spelled out under current rules, and on and on. There’s nothing being hidden here, it’s just that these other changes don’t affect much… thus the name “clean up” amendments.
For your reference, here is a link to the entire set of Republican Rules, as they existed going into the 2016 convention.
And away we go…
Here is the one paragraph version: We proposed changes in seven subject areas: RNC reforms, incentivizing closed primaries, getting rid of the most rigged parts of our nomination system, clearly addressing how binding will be decided by states in the future (not 2016), spreading out the nomination calendar so more states will matter more and requiring a majority for winner-take-all, changing aspects of the national convention rules to be more transparent and accessible to the grassroots, and changing the delegation allocation formula to be based on GOP performance rather than population.
Subject #1: RNC Reforms
These include: a lobbyist ban, fixing the super-delegate problem with RNC Members, de-politicizing & professionalizing the RNC General Counsel, reducing and spreading out the RNC Chairman’s power in committees, restoring conservatives’ ability to advance resolutions within the RNC and eliminating the RNC’s ability to change the rules in between conventions.
[New] Rule 1(c) – Ban on lobbyists as RNC members
This proposal blocks from membership on the RNC people who are: (i) registered lobbyists, (ii) being paid to lobby, and (iii) working for entities other than non-profit organizations (e.g., a lobbyist for a 501(c)(4) like NRA would not be affected), or who are employed by an entity whose primary purpose is providing lobbying services to others.
1) There will not be RNC members who have a financial stake in being on the RNC;
2) No lobbyists who have clients with interests affected by decisions or actions of the RNC will be on the RNC;
3) Both actual impropriety and the appearance of impropriety are significantly reduced for Republicans and the RNC; and
4) This creates a higher standard for the RNC than the DNC has, i.e., Republicans look like we’re reducing influence-peddling within our party, while the Dems are not. This is a PR win for us.
Rule 3 – Changing the Commencement of the Term of RNC Members to Address the Super-Delegate Problem
Currently, RNC Members are automatically delegates to the national convention during their term. They are the closest thing to a Republican equivalent to the Democrats’ super-delegates.
RNC Members who were elected in the spring of 2016 do not take office until AFTER the 2016 national convention, and the national convention that they will automatically attend is not until 2020! So, believe it or not, we have already elected 168 people to be delegates to the 2020 convention, and we haven’t even finished the 2016 election yet!
This amendment would have RNC Members taking office PRIOR to the national convention in the same year they were elected. For example, the RNC Members elected this past spring, would have been automatic delegates to the 2016 convention. While we are not happy that RNC Members automatically attend the national convention, this amendment would at least create a connection between their election to the RNC and the Presidential election by having their election directly in front of the national convention at issue.
This amendment was not formally submitted following the failure of the lobbyist amendment.
(a) National committeemen and national committeewomen shall serve from the adjournment of the national convention until the adjournment of the following national conventionthe conclusion of the general session of the meeting of the Republican National Committee immediately preceding the national convention following their election until the conclusion of the general session of the meeting of the Republican National Committee immediately preceding the following national convention, and until their successors shall have been elected and ratified. For seniority purposes, newly elected committee persons shall be ratified in order of the date of their individual election.
Rule 5(c) – Power to Remove General Counsel&Duties of General Counsel
Removes the RNC Chairman’s unilateral power to remove the general counsel and gives it to the whole committee. Professionalizes the general counsel position by specifying that the general counsel shall provide advice to all RNC members upon request on the rules, parliamentary procedures, and other applicable laws, as well as supervising and directing the activities of the legal counsel’s office and performing any other legal activities as directed by the chairman.
The General Counsel would no longer be a member of the RNC, but would instead be the dedicated leader of the RNC legal team. Protection from firing by the Chairman provides confidence that legal opinions that are correct, but would not be appreciated by the Chairman, will not be cause for firing. Often (including currently), the General Counsel is used by chairmen to advance their political goals under the guise of legal advice.
This amendment also makes clear that the head of the Finance Committee will not be a member of the RNC. This change is also intended to bring a more business-like approach to the functioning of the Finance Committee.
Rule 10 – Removing or Reducing the Number of Appointments that the RNC Chairman Makes
These amendments make it so that the chair’s power to make appointments to committees are lessened or completely removed, and removes his power to appoint the chairmen of various committees (some committees already operate this way). Instead, the members of the committees select their own chairman. This provides more accountability in the operations of the RNC and decentralizes power within the RNC.
It should be kept in mind that the RNC Chairman already has vast influence over how all of these committees operate.
10(a)(1) – Executive Committee
Reduces members of the executive committee from 29 to 25 by removing the general counsel as an automatic member of the committee, and removing all three members appointed by the RNC chairman.
10(a)(2) – Committee on Resolutions
Changes it so that the RNC chairman doesn’t appoint the committee chair, but still appoints a member. The committee chair would be elected by the committee from among the members of the committee, just as the Rules Committee Chairman is elected by the members of the Rules Committee.
10(a)(3) – Budget Committee
Reduces the members of the budget committee from 11 to 9 by reducing the members appointed by the RNC chair from three to one, designates the ex officio members as non-voting members, and removes the power of the RNC Chairman to appoint the chair of the committee. Instead, the members of the committee elect their chairman.
10(a)(4) – Committee on Site Selection
Changes it so that the RNC Chairman doesn’t appoint the committee chair, but still appoints a member. The committee chair would be elected by the committee from among the members of the committee.
10(a)(6) – Committee on the Call
Reduces the number of members of the committee from seven to five. Reduces the RNC Chairman’s appointments to the committee from all of its members to only one. The other members are elected by each of the four regions.
10(a)(8) – State Chairmen’s Advisory Committee
Removes the RNC Chairman’s power to appoint the chair of the committee, which after all, is supposed to be representative of the STATE parties. This Chairman would be elected from among the state party chairmen that make up the committee’s members.
10(a)(10) – Committee on Presidential Primary Debates
Reduces the members of the committee from 13 to 9 by reducing the members appointed by the RNC Chairman from five to one. Removes the power of the RNC Chairman to appoint the committee chair, instead providing for the members of the committee to elect their chairman.
Rule 10(a)(ii) – Resolutions Considered by the RNC
This amendment was an attempt to stop the RNC attack on the grassroots by their doubling the requirement for sponsorship to get a resolution considered by the RNC. For example, it was an extraordinary challenge to successfully get the RNC to pass a resolution condemning the ExIm Bank. This should have been a no-brainer.
Often, the RNC Chairman tries to block consideration of such resolutions because there is someone or some special interest group that he doesn’t want to upset (though he never seems to be concerned about upsetting the grassroots…).
When the RNC Chairman wants to avoid a resolution, he will often go to the 10 sponsors and ask one or more of them to withdraw their sponsorship, so the resolution can be killed before coming to the RNC. Unfortunately, the RNC doubled the required number of sponsors from 10 to 20 in between the 2012 and 2016 conventions. Our amendment was simply trying to take the sponsorship level back down to 10 sponsors, where it had been for a long time, so that the grassroots might continue to have a realistic voice via the RNC. That effort was defeated.
By raising the number of sponsors from 10 to 20, the RNC (at the behest of the Chairman) made it more than twice as hard to get a resolution considered by the RNC. Why was it more than twice as hard? Because every sponsor you get closer to the threshold number is harder and harder to get, so by adding 10 more to the threshold, there is a greater opportunity than ever for the RNC Chairman to kill a resolution before it is ever considered.
Remember, these sponsors are required just to get the subject considered by the full RNC – it does not determine the outcome. If a Chairman strongly opposes a resolution, he can always move to table the resolution, but then he has to show his cards, i.e., his fingerprints are all over killing the resolution.
Doubling the sponsorship requirement made it much harder for conservatives on the RNC to get the RNC to take a stand on issues that matter to the grassroots. The grassroots lost again, and special interests have one less angle of attack they need to worry about.
Rule 12 – RNC Changing the Rules In Between Conventions
Our amendment would have deleted Rule 12 in its entirety. Rule 12 is a new rule from the 2012 convention that for the first time allowed the RNC to amend the rules themselves in between conventions, though it does require a super-majority vote of the RNC. This was a massive shift of power from the grassroots to the RNC.
Deleting Rule 12 would have put the Republican Party back in the position it had been in for almost all of its history as it relates to writing rules, namely, rules are only amended by the gathering of delegates at the national convention every four years. Such a change would have shifted much power back from the RNC establishment to the grassroots.
Subject #2: Closed Primaries
[New] Rule 14(9) – Bonus Delegates for Closed Primaries
This proposal provides for a 20% bonus for the total number of delegates allocated to states that hold closed primaries/nominations (not including RNC super delegates). For example, Virginia has 49 delegates – 46 without the three RNC super delegates. If Virginia closed its nomination process (it used an open primary in 2016), then Virginia would receive 10 more delegates (all fractions are rounded up).
46 x 20% = 9.2
The standard is that all participants in the primaries have to be either registered as a Republican in party registration states, or “deemed Republicans” under state party rules, 30 days prior to the commencement of voting. There are numerous ways to encourage Republican participation that are being publicly discussed, but the “bonus delegates” approach had the broadest support among delegates of every stripe.
Benefits include: Encouraging a system within which Republican voters – not Democrats and Unaffiliateds–choose the Republican nominee.
[New]Rule 16(c)(2) – First Four States Nominations Must be Decided Exclusively by Republicans
This amendment would recognize the special role played by the first four states in the nomination process, and require them to run their nominating contests in such a manner that only Republicans would be participating.
Given the out-sized role of the first four states in the nominating process, it’s important that non-Republicans not be participating in “whittling the field” of GOP contenders for the Presidential nomination.
This amendment was agreed to by the Trump/RNC team the morning of the Rules Committee meeting; however, RNC later reneged on the agreement and this amendment was not advanced separately. The thinking was that in a busy Rules Committee meeting, it was only practical to move one closed primary amendment, so we went with the one that had been the most-discussed, and was the most universally popular among the delegates.
Note that this amendment refers to a 29 day period, rather than a 30 day period. The reason for that is tied to Arizona law, which had been expected to replace Nevada in among the first four states in light of Nevada’s continuing sloppiness in conducting their caucuses. Note that Trump won Arizona with a bigger percentage than Nevada, so there was nothing anti-Trump going on there…
In order for Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, or Arizona to conduct their nomination process prior to February 10 in the year in which the national convention is held, they may only permit persons to vote in any stage of the nomination process who are deemed to be Republicans at least 29 days prior to the commencement of any stage of voting in the nomination process in their state. “Deemed to be Republican” shall mean Republican as a matter of public record pursuant to state law or, if voters are not enrolled by party under state law, by Republican Party rules of a state; however, a voter may not be deemed to be a Republican exclusively based upon reliance on prior votes in Republican nominations. In addition to the qualifications provided herein, the applicable Republican Party rules of a state may prescribe additional qualifications not inconsistent with these rules.
Subject #3: Cleaning up the Most Rigged Parts of the System – Getting rid of selection committees and nominating committees:
16(d)(1)(ii) Removal of State Committees’ Ability to Hand-Pick Delegates
This proposal deletes the section of the rules allowing delegates to be hand-picked by state central committees literally behind closed doors. Instead, such delegates would have to be elected using primary, caucus or convention methods, thereby providing voters a say in selecting the delegates to the national convention.
You will recall the protests by Trump supporters in FL, TN, and IN at meetings where they had no say whatsoever in who would be selected to be delegates to the national convention. Donald Trump legitimately called this part of the system “rigged.” It’s an embarrassment that needs to be fixed, and this amendment attempted to eliminate the problem.
1) Getting rid of the overtly offensive practice of unaccountable establishment committees hand-picking the delegates from their state to the national convention. This is arguably the most obviously noxious and embarrassing practice that is allowed under our Republican rules;
2) Avoiding the practice (e.g., in New York) of virtually selling delegate slots. Big establishment donors who want to go to the national convention go based on donations, nothing more. There is zero accountability to the grassroots;
3) Opens opportunities to the grassroots to go to the national convention;
4) Gives everyone an equal chance to become a delegate – not based purely on connections (“who you know”);
5) Avoids the handing of delegate slots to elected officials over grassroots Republicans;
6) Provides greater transparency in the process of picking delegates to the national convention; and
7) Connects voters and participants to the process of picking the actual delegates.
Rule 16(e)(4) – Eliminate State Nominating Committees
Most states that elect delegates to the national convention at state conventions use a form of established “nominating committee” to limit the choices of the state convention attendees to vote up or down on a pre-selected “slate” of delegate candidates, rather than having the chance to vote for the delegate candidates of their choice. This device of the state party establishments is used so they may maintain control (at least to some degree) of who ends up attending the national convention from their state.
The result is that a scramble takes place to control or influence the nominating committee, rather than having the usual competition to recruit votes at the convention. Without exception, the use of nominating committees was universally reviled by the grassroots for what it is: namely, an establishment filter to direct the choices of the convention attendees, often in contravention to the desires of those convention attendees.
The consequences are predictable: frustration, anger and a feeling of disenfranchisement.
In 2016 there were typically only three factions vying for delegates in state conventions: the Trump and Cruz campaigns, and the state establishments. I don’t know of a single state where the Trump campaign got control or influence over a nominating committee anywhere in the country. The others were pretty evenly split between the Cruz campaign and the in-state establishment.
The use of so-called “nominating committees” is one of the other aspects of our Republican system where Donald Trump’s criticism about the system being “rigged” hits closest to the mark. Our proposed amendment aimed to eliminate this practice and allow the participants at caucuses, conventions, etc. to have free choice among the qualified candidates to elect whomever they wanted as delegates to the national convention.
Given that this change did not happen in our national rules, every state party should amend their rules to get rid of this terrible practice.
No delegates shall be deemed eligible to participate in any Congressional district or state convention the purpose of which is to elect or select delegates to the national convention who are elected or selected prior to the date of the issuance of the call of such national convention. Congressional districts and state parties may not nominate delegates or receive nominations for delegates via a nominating committee or via any group the purpose of which is to select or recommend one or more delegates for a slate or ballot.
Subject #4: Future (2020) Decisions About Delegate Allocation and Binding
First of all, it is important for everyone to realize that our group of grassroots conservatives did not propose any rules that would change the binding of delegates to the 2016 convention. We stayed out of the binding/unbinding debate for the 2016 convention.
Rule 16(a)(1) – Binding and Allocation
Removes the requirement on states that they must bind and allocate delegates according to any statewide presidential preference vote and, thereby returns to the states the freedom to decide for themselves how to bind and allocate delegates to the national convention in future conventions (not in 2016, see Rule 42 amendment, below). In the future, this amendment would have allowed states to decide whether and how to bind their delegates themselves, as it had been done prior to 2012 without incident.
Rule 42 – Effective Date of Rules
Sets the effective dates of the Rules such that the amended version of Rules 1 – 25 would be effective at the adjournment of the 2016 Convention, so that the elimination of Rule 16(a)(1) would not be effective until after the 2016 convention. Rules 26-42 would be effective for the 2016 Convention and would be the so-called “Temporary Rules” for the 2020 Convention. That means that when the delegates arrive for the 2020 convention, Rules 26-42 coming from the 2016 convention would govern the 2020 convention until the rules proposed by the 2020 Convention Rules Committee were adopted.
Subject #5: Timing/Calendar and Allocation Guidelines
Through a set of five Rules amendments, a) the nominating calendar would start 19 days earlier than 2016 to spread out the states after the “first four” (Iowa, NH, SC and Nevada) in an effort to give more states an opportunity to affect the nomination contest, b) the period for delegate awards by proportional voting would be extended from March 15th to March 31st, c) winner-take-all awards of delegates after March 31st would require the winning candidate to gain majority support in a state or congressional district (no plurality winner-take-all), and d) the “first four” states would no longer be exempted from proportional voting (no winner-take-all among the first four).
Changes the earliest nominating contest date from February 1st to January 10th, and keeps the current minimum vote threshold at no higher than 10% for the “first four” states. The 10% vote threshold is not a change, but we proposed moving it into this section for clarity.
The deletion of the final clause would have ended the special exemption of the first four states from proportional voting. This change was also advanced by one of the members of the Convention Rules Committee that was not part of our coalition, and he made the case that it is simply unfair to the other states that in addition to their outsized influence, the first four also had options not available to the other states in the proportional voting period.
Extends the period for proportional voting from March 15 to March 31. Thus, winner-take-all could not start until March 31st instead of March 15th. Combined with moving the starting date forward 19 days, this provides almost 7 weeks of proportional voting after the first four states are completed, instead of the mere two weeks that existed in 2016.
Eliminates an unnecessary reference to 16(c)(2). This is one of many examples of “clean up” language that our coalition proposed.
Where the first four states can only impose a vote threshold of up to 10% before a candidate receives delegates, all of the other states in the proportional period may continue to impose up to a 20% threshold. Since the first four states would have gone before February 10th, this amendment makes clear that all other states after February 10th could use up to a 20% threshold.
Again, this is a clarification of the existing rules, rather than introducing anything new. The only “new” aspect of this amendment is to simply track the new starting date of January 10th instead of February 1st. All of the states other than the first four can already use vote thresholds of up to 20%, so that is not a change.
Sets the minimum threshold for winner take all to be more than a majority (>50%) starting on March 31.
This would eliminate plurality winner-take-all situations, considered by most to be an outrageous advantage to better funded candidates. This creates a situation that is fairer to grassroots candidates.
Subject #6: Convention Rules
This is a series of amendments to the convention Standing Rules found in Rules 26 through 42. Most of these were expected to come with caveats in Rule 42 about not applying until after the 2016 convention. Again, the point was to NOT affect the substance of the 2016 nomination; rather, the goal was to rewrite rules for the long-term benefit of the grassroots of our party.
Many of these proposals are downright boring, but history has shown how important it is to lay out the rules so everyone knows what to expect beforehand.
Rule 28 – Admission to the Convention Hall
This amendment prohibits withholding credentials from individuals identified in the subsection for any reason. This is one of many small, “clean up” style amendments that our group proposed to the functioning of a convention. One might think that a rule like this would not be necessary, but even in small matters, it has been observed that requirements need to be spelled out.
Rule 29 Voting
Allows an alternate at-large delegate to replace a congressional delegate if no congressional district alternate delegate is available. This would seem to be logical, but it is not laid out in the current rules anywhere. Also, this amendment was intended to facilitate a smaller number of district alternates in the future (instead of the one alternate for every delegate system we have now).
Rule 30 – Rules of Order
Currently, the national convention is governed by the Rules of the House of Representatives – rules that almost no one on earth actually knows… and of course, that is the point…
Our proposed amendment would establish Robert’s Rules of Order as the rules of procedure for the Convention. Every other Republican body, including the Convention Committees, operate using Robert’s Rules. Almost nobody knows the rules of the House of Representatives, and so the change to Robert’s Rules would provide more familiarity, clarity and transparency to the delegates.
Because concerns were expressed about the possibility of delay in the convention under Robert’s Rules, we proposed that so-called “dilatory motions” (i.e., delaying tactics) be restricted by the RNC in the two years following the 2016 convention. This amendment was intended to go into effect after the RNC addressed dilatory motions (had this amendment passed, an amendment related to implementation starting at the 2020 convention would have been submitted under Rule 42).
Rule 32 – Suspension of the Rules
This amendment would have reduced the number of state delegations needed to second a motion to Suspend the Rules from seven to three. Note that this is only to make the motion – the motion still must be voted on by the delegates and passed with a 2/3 vote. This change was proposed because it is very hard to organize state delegations “on the fly” on the floor of the convention, and so getting seconds to motions is very difficult.
Rule 34(a) – Minority Reports; Amendments
This amendment would do several things. First, it would require chairmen of Convention Committees to remain in the final meeting room for one hour after final adoption of a committee report (they have been known to hide so people can’t submit minority reports). Under the rules, committee members have one hour to submit minority reports, and sometimes the chairmen try to hide from committee members so they can’t submit reports – this amendment would end that practice.
Second, the amendment spells out how minority reports would be taken up during the convention. Under the current rules, this is not addressed. Specifically, minority reports would be taken up immediately after presentation of the Committee report. The amendment also spells out the order in which minority reports are taken up when more than one minority report is filed (again, this is not currently addressed under the rules).
Finally, the amendment would allow the proponents of a minority report to decide how their report will be taken up – rule by rule, or all at once (or, in the case of the platform, resolution by resolution, or all at once).
When you see the vice-chairman and secretary stricken as part of the amendment, that’s because there is nothing in the rules requiring the existence of those positions – only the position of chairman.
Rule 36 – Previous Question
Clarifies the vote required for the adoption of the Previous Question as a majority of the delegates present and voting. This is another “clean up” type of amendment.
Rule 40(b) – Nominations and support of nominations
This amendment changes the requirements for nomination in Rule 40(b) from a majority of the delegates from each of 8 states to a plurality of delegates from each of 5 states. This amendment would have also added a new last sentence that would clarify that a formal nomination entitles the nominee to speak to the convention. To avoid friction, we had proposed that this amendment would not be applicable until the 2020 convention.
All this proposal does is return us to the level of support needed at the commencement of the 2012 convention. This was one of the awful changes the Romney/RNC people made back in 2012.
Aside from the last sentence, this amendment was in fact adopted at the 2016 convention, applicable starting with the 2020 convention.
Rule 41(a) – Convention Committee Membership by Alternate Delegates
This amendment changes the conditions under which an alternate delegate may serve on a convention committee to those circumstances in which the number of delegates able or willing to serve is less than the number of convention committees. The amendment adds the willingness to serve so that even if there are a sufficient number of qualifying delegates, but not enough delegates are willing to serve on committees, then an alternate may serve.
This is a big deal in small states, especially for Republican women. Every state provides one man and one woman for all four committees (so 4 men and 4 women total); however, there are usually more men than women in delegations, so there’s more pressure on the women to undertake these additional responsibilities. This is no small matter, for three of the four committees’ delegates have to arrive the week prior to the convention. This costs them more money (hundreds of dollars a night just in hotel costs), as well as time away from home and work. And if a state delegation wants an alternate to serve on a committee, what’s the big deal? Let them decide it for themselves.
This amendment also reduces the very severe punishment to a delegation that might attempt to assign an alternate to one of the committees in violation of the established procedures. Believe it or not, under the current rule, if a state tried to put an alternate on a committee today, that state is punished by the loss of both of its slots on that committee! Not just the slot for which they proposed the alternate. Had this amendment passed, violations of this rule would have been tied only to the committee slot in question – a much more reasonable approach.
Rule 41(e) – Convention Committee Information Shared With Committee Members
For the last two conventions (2012 and 2016), Reince Priebus intentionally refused to provide contact information to the members of the convention committees, all while paid RNC employees and consultants were calling those same committee members to lobby them in the direction the GOP establishment wanted them to go. How do you suppose those RNC folks could reach the committee members? Because the RNC had – but was not sharing – the contact information of the members!
When this happened in 2012, the Rules Committee passed a rule requiring all contact information to be provided to all of the committee members 25 days before the convention; however, even with that new rule in place, Reince Priebus again refused to provide it! And once again, his minions at RNC were calling the members of the committees to work them over.
When more and more committee members began to loudly demand that they get the contact information of their fellow committee members, as called for under the rules, Reince Priebus responded by calling an Executive Committee meeting to try and get them to validate his rule-breaking. Finally, as this became more public, Priebus finally provided phone numbers (note that the rule calls for all contact information… not just phone numbers).
We advanced an amendment that would provide a consequence if the rule were not followed in the future. Specifically, if contact information was not provided to the committee members 25 days before the convention, then instead of the RNC Chairman appointing the convention committee chairmen, the members of the committee would elect their own convention committee chairman. If this had passed, you can bet that convention committee members would finally get their contact information!
However, instead of passing this change, the GOP establishment rammed through an amendment that actually allows the RNC to keep all of this information for itself!!! Their outrageous and petty amendment epitomizes the centralization of power and information in the RNC, all while they flat out piss on the grassroots.
Rule 42 – Temporary Rules
As previously mentioned, this amendment would simply establish the effective dates for the Rules: Rules 1-25 at the adjournment of the 2016 Convention, and Rules 26-42 for the 2016 Convention and the Temporary Rules for 2020.
As we also noted above, it was expected that caveats would have been inserted in this rule if other amendments to Rules 26-42 had passed. For example, if Rule 30 had passed to use Robert’s Rules of Order, we would have submitted an amendment to Rule 42 saying “amendments to Rule 30 herein shall take effect upon the adjournment of the 2016 convention,” or words to that effect.
Subject #7: Rule 14 – Delegate Allocation Formula
Perhaps the most complicated single proposal that we advanced was to change the allocation formula for delegates from a population-based formula with minimal adjustment based on GOP performance to a system that is based almost exclusively on GOP performance (as it is in virtually all states for our own state conventions).
The new baseline would be determined by dividing the number of votes for the GOP nominee for President in the last election by 50,000 – rounding all fractions up to the next whole number (again, this is the same approach taken in all state Republican Party rules that we could find). This new baseline better accounts for states full performance. For example, under the current system, a state like California, where Romney got 37%, is treated no differently than a state like Florida, where Romney got over 49%. We lost both states, but surely it makes sense to account for differences such as these?
The electoral vote basis of the current system is population based. Ironically, our census counts illegal aliens who are reflected in the distribution of electoral votes. So, our current delegate allocation formula actually rewards sanctuary states like New York and California!
Currently, each state gets 10 delegates plus 3 more for each congressional district. One may view this as 5 delegates per U.S. Senator, regardless of whether they are Republican or not; and 3 for each congressman, regardless of whether they’re Republican or not. That means that in our current allocation formula, Nancy Pelosi’s congressional district has as much say in picking the GOP nominee as Dave Brat’s, Paul Ryan’s, etc… pick your GOP Congressman for comparison. This is ridiculous.
Our proposed change would have worked as follows:
1. For every 50,000 votes for the GOP nominee for President in the last election, one at-large convention delegate is awarded. And we proposed that D.C. be treated as a state for these purposes, not as a territory as it is now (D.C. and the territories are simply assigned delegate votes in the current system);
2. For simplicity’s sake, we did not change the bonus for a state winning the last Presidential election for the GOP nominee. It’s worth noting that this bonus is the only significant effort to reward GOP performance in the current system. All of the other bonuses are paltry, to put it mildly (see below for changes);
3. For every Republican Senator, 6 at-large delegates are awarded;
4. For every Republican Congressman, 3 district delegates are awarded [same as currently];
5. For every Congressional District without a Republican Congressman, 1 district delegate would be awarded [a reduction of 2 per district from the current system];
6. For every Republican Governor, 5 at-large delegates are awarded [currently 1];
7. For every statehouse in GOP control, an at-large delegate would be awarded [same as the current system], and in the case of Nebraska’s unicameral system, they would either get zero additional delegates or two, depending on whether the GOP controls the single house of their legislature [again, this is the same as the current rules]; and
8. Every state and territory would continue to have its three RNC Members automatically attend the convention as delegates [same as the current system].
Assuming all of the territories stay the same (9 delegates each for American Samoa, Guam, Northern Marianas Islands, and Virgin Islands, and 23 delegates for Puerto Rico), then the overall result of this new formula using 2012 results and the current makeup of Congress, Governorships and statehouses would result in 698 more total delegates.
Because only about 1/3 of alternates ever get used, we also proposed to send only one alternate delegate from every congressional district, instead of the current 3. That reduces the number of alternates by 870.
Thus, we would essentially be moving 698 alternates over to delegate and we would have 172 less total people (delegates + alternates combined). Many alternates who don’t think they matter much would become delegates and we would not have quite as many otherwise.
Mind you, if our proposal for a 20% bonus for states that hold closed primaries, etc. was adopted, up to another 600 delegates + 600 more alternates would attend. If we assume that 2/3 of these bonuses would be earned, that would be 400 more delegates, and 400 more alternates, just due to the closed primary bonus. Under those circumstances, if the total number of people attending as delegates and alternates would go up by 628 people.
If these numbers concern you, don’t worry. The Dems have many more delegates than we do and they have no problems obtaining adequate venues.
An alternative that we looked at using the same concept would have kept all congressional districts at 3 delegates, but added a fourth delegate to those districts that elected a Republican Congressman. This results in nearly 1,000 more delegates than the proposal we advanced, and that was thought to be just too big a jump. Instead of just a 28% increase in delegates, it would have been nearly a 63% increase – and that’s before any primary bonuses might have been factored in.
Once we agreed on a conceptual framework, we just plugged it into a spreadsheet and the results can be seen on a state by state basis in the file embedded below.
That’s it! You’ve reached the end. As you can see, we proposed many, many changes to the rules. All of the changes were intended to advance the grassroots of our party, or simply have our party run more fairly, openly and with greater accountability. Alas, we did not succeed.
And if you have read through all of this material, you know that the “narrative” that was playing out before and during the convention was wildly inaccurate with regard to our efforts.
Unfortunately, we – grassroots representatives – only get one chance every four years to amend the rules. As the rest of the time the rules can only be amended by the RNC, and no one is going to kid themselves that RNC will do any sort of broad re-write of the rules that will benefit the grassroots.
In mid-May, when Ted Cruz was out of the race, but hundreds of Cruz delegates and hundreds of Trump delegates were going to be coming to Cleveland, it certainly looked like it would be the greatest gathering of anti-establishment delegates in history. And, in fact, I suspect that it was.
Sadly, all of us anti-establishment types could not get together adequately to bring fairness, transparency and respect for the grassroots into the rules in 2016. If I could go back to mid-May, there are surely things that I would do differently to try to help make 2016 a grassroots success on the rules, but of course, hindsight is 20/20 and we may never have an opportunity like this one again.
Then again, maybe we will…