the whitestick papers

looking at politics from a different perspective

Posts Tagged ‘PCP

Ironic

with 3 comments

It’s election season in the Oregon Republican Party. At the end of February, the state Central Committee will elect new officers, as they do every other year shortly after the General Election. In this case, there are two dominant slates, one of which proposed and endorsed by current party Chair, Dr. Art Robinson.

Last Monday, Dr. Ames Curtright, self-styled “Fundraising” and “Ethics” Committees Chair (despite having been rejected for the former by the Executive Committee after he tried to bribe them with a $20,000 donation if his political opponent, National Committeeman Solomon Yue, would resign and having been thrown under the bus by Chair Robinson regarding the latter) sent out a slick email flyer supporting Chair Robinson’s endorsees. As is common with such screeds, all the problems of the past are implied to be the fault of the other team while “new leadership” can save the day.

What’s ironic in this case is who’s been doing what over the past couple of years….

Ames flyer

“Party Infighting” is a fact of life within the Republican Party. Until recently, however, any differences we may have over policy or procedure were “one and done” situations; we’d present our best efforts at the county, state or even national level, let the votes determine the outcome and, if it didn’t go our way, wait for the next opportunity to do it again. In the meantime, we’d stand shoulder to shoulder with those we’d just debated against to accomplish a common goal or support Republican candidates – even if we didn’t agree with them on all points. In recent years, however, a few “Occupy GOP” activists have joined with long-term malcontents to ostracize and eliminate anyone who disagrees with them – or is just in a position of authority within the Party. In other words, Dr. Curtright and others who have sought to undercut or overthrow those they consider political adversaries.

Yes, there is a certain degree of “In-group Maneuvering”, but it’s interesting that those who fostered the “false flag” campaign in 2014 are making the charge. You remember that; several Ron Paul supporters ran as Delegates for other Republican candidates for positions at the Republican National Convention in 2014. It became obvious both before and during the Convention the intent was to have the Convention nominate Dr. Paul rather than the person selected on a state-by-state basis. They were out-maneuvered in their efforts to subvert the will of the people and the process and have never forgiven the ORP or RNC for doing so.

The irony goes even deeper.   In mid-December, Chair Robinson announced the dissolution of the Rules and Bylaws Committee. Although within his authority as Chair, it was an unusual move for a retiring Chair to make just 2½ months before his replacement would be elected. Then, last Tuesday – the day after Dr. Curtright’s email – he announced the leadership and membership of these re-formed committees (made up primarily of Occupy GOP folks and those with a grudge against Solomon Yue). He told the Central Committee they’d approved the Rules for the upcoming election, even though the Chairs had not been reviewed by the Executive Committee as required by ORP Bylaws. On Thursday, he announced the Bylaws Committee had reviewed proposed Bylaws amendments, and ruled that – despite the Central Committee having overruled a similar interpretation advanced by an Occupy GOP delegate in 2014 – Executive Committee members would be disenfranchised during the election of State Party officers. These were just the latest in a series of unilateral actions by the Chair and his allies in party leadership, all in conflict with ORP Bylaws; who’s doing the “in-group maneuvering” again?

It’s difficult to determine what Dr. Curtright has in mind when he says “Wasteful Spending”; under Chair Robinson, the ORP has been strapped to meet operating obligations, much less have any funds to waste. This ties in with the next bullet point, “Lost Financial Support”. When embattled Allen Alley left the stage in 2014, the ORP was in the best financial health it had been in at least a decade. He’d paid off outstanding debts, built relationships with donors and had the party on track to be a force to reckon with in upcoming contests. Even after the departure of Suzanne Gallagher under a cloud, the party was in the black. Eighteen months later, Chair Robinson is the party’s greatest creditor, the Executive Director hasn’t been paid in months and the party can barely meet rent and utility bills. The chief reason – Chair Robinson’s insistence on using a single source of fundraising, direct mail, for which he paid out of pocket. Gone are the relationships with donors; exhausted are the reserves built by the former administration. Add to this Dr. Curtright’s insistence that he is the ORP’s “Fundraising” Chair; how credible are his claims regarding the ability of this new leadership to be better?

Finally, we come to the perennial attack on current leadership, “Lost Elections”. The Republican waves of recent years have stopped east of the Cascades, and Oregon remains a Democrat stronghold. In the opinion of this author, however, blame for that failure falls not on the party but despite the party. Following counsel from “political experts”, candidates ignore the party, ignore its principles and values and run as if they were “Democrat Light”. The ORP repeatedly advises candidates to disregard the “common knowledge” counsel as it consistently results in a loss for Republicans; if people want Democrat policies, they’ll vote for the real thing. Instead, like Ronald Reagan, Republicans should point, without apology, to the conservative values that made our country great. That practice works in eastern Oregon and elsewhere in the country nearly every time it’s tried; not following that counsel results in resounding loss just as predictably.

More to the point, however, is to ask for the track record of these erstwhile candidates for leadership. What is their win-loss ratio? How many successful candidates have they run, or how well have they done in repeated elections? To be fair, there is some success there, but it’s no greater than what you’ll find on the other team.

The point of this article isn’t to denigrate these candidates; while a couple of them are largely unknown, particularly within the ORP, in this writer’s opinion the others make a credible case for their election. It’s more to expose the reality behind the implied problems of electing a slate made up largely of current leadership. The other team has been working under the guidance of a Chair who has been secretive, manipulative, even duplicitous and, rather than throw them out because of the Chair’s action, it may be more appropriate to give them a chance to do what they were prepared to do two years ago but have been blocked from accomplishing.

 

Written by Jeffrey S. Smith

31 January 2015 at 2:14 pm

Star Chamber, ORP style

leave a comment »

This blog should have been published two weeks ago. But, because the author didn’t want to exacerbate the distraction caused by certain Occupy GOP folks here in Oregon less than two weeks before a critical election, it was withheld. Until now.

On October 23, Dr. W. Ames Curtright, founder of the annual “Gathering of Eagles”, distributed a polemic entitled “Executive Action of the ORP Ethics Committee” which, among other things, demanded the immediate release of a contact list for all Republican Precinct Committee People (PCP) in Oregon. The purported reason for this demand was to provide transparency. According to the unanimously (but anonymously) supported document, the target of this “transparency” is ORP National Committeeman Solomon Yue, CD1 Vice Chair (and former Bylaws Chair) Jeff Grossman and the party’s Executive Committee, including some vague insinuations concerning Mr. Yue.

To give some context, it should be noted Solomon Yue is a favorite target of some within the ORP, and has been for several years. There’s no doubt he’s a canny political strategist, having been a guiding hand in undermining so-called ”moderate” control of the ORP in the late 1990;s and early years of this century, taking that skill on the road as a National Committeeman. Several past party leaders at the state and national level, RINO politicians and the like have found their efforts thwarted by his often subtle plans. Most of his attention, however, always has been aimed at defeating leftists in general and Democrats in particular, as evidenced by his current efforts to undermine Democrat efforts at disenfranchising voters overseas. This flows from his experience growing up in communist China and first-hand knowledge of the tactics of tyrants.

Mr. Curtright claims to chair the ad hoc “Ethics Committee”, supposedly organized by ORP Chair Art Robinson (although the latter has steadfastly refused to confirm that claim) . It has no existence under party Bylaws or authority under any Rules, but Mr. Curtright and this “Ethics Committee” presumes absolute authority to demand anything they see fit in the name of transparency. Ironically, this “Ethics Committee” has not seen fit to reveal its membership, although I suspect I know who many of them are. Mr. Curtright himself lost the approval of the Executive Committee when, during his introduction as Chair of the ORP Finance Committee, he offered to bribe the ORP with a $20,000 donation if Mr. Yue would resign. Not too surprisingly, the Executive Committee decided to withhold its support of a person with that level of antagonism towards an elected party leader. Like Mr. Curtright, former state Senator Marilyn Shannon is a consistent (and often outright deceitful) critic of Solomon Yue, former Michael Steele hatchet-man and ORP Chair Bob Tiernan has a personal grudge against Mr. Yue, and I wouldn’t be surprised if former ORP Vice Chair Al King, former CD Chair Gayna Flake and a number of others who have raised fantastic accusations against Mr. Yue weren’t to be to found amongst this home-grown Star Chamber.

Based apparently on a photograph of him with Chairman Robinson, Mr. Curtright and this “Ethics Committee” claims they’re operating under authority granted by the party Chairman. The problem is the party Chairman doesn’t have that kind of authority. He’s elected by the State Central Committee which can, as was demonstrated by the recall last year of Suzanne Gallagher, overrule or even remove him. He doesn’t have authority to demand the counties relinquish their PCP lists, nor does he have authority to instruct party Secretary Chris Barreto to hand that list over to the “Ethics Committee”.   The state party doesn’t “own” those lists; they are the sole property and responsibility of the county organizations. Since the Chair doesn’t have that authority, he can’t delegate it to someone else, much less to a secretive group lacking any documented authority or even formal existence.

As intense as the animosity driving this “Ethics Committee” and the assumption of absolute power may be, lost in the attempt to discredit Mr. Yue and other elected leaders of the ORP is the question of the list itself. This is the third time one of the Occupy GOP folks have demanded that list. First, Wendy Frome, CD5 Chair and Chair of the Credentials Committee, demanded (and was refused) it. Then, Becky Lemler, self-styled leader of the “Oregon PCP” website and newsletter, demanded it. It begs the question as to why is this list – and it’s control at the local level – of such interest to folks working from a top+-down and often secretive mentality.

Whatever else may be true about this Star Chamber “Ethics Committee” and the other activities of folks like Curtright, Lemler and Frome, it’s clear the goal isn’t to get Republicans elected. Not when they make it clear Republicans are the target.

Written by Jeffrey S. Smith

5 November 2014 at 3:39 pm

Posted in Musings

Tagged with , ,

Occupy GOP

leave a comment »

During most even-numbered years, the summer Central Committee meeting of the Oregon Republican Party is dedicated to plans and preparations for the coming General Election. Usually, they’ve been working together since the reorganization meetings 18 months earlier and come together to share ideas and insights, coordinate strategies, discuss and often vote to support or oppose ballot measures and just generally unify for the final push coming in a few short months.

But, for the August 2014 edition, certain folks believe something else is more important than working together to win elections.

Just after the official call for the meeting was sent out, a flurry of proposed changes to the state Party Rules and Bylaws were sprung on the Central Committee members through a clearly orchestrated series of emails.   Per standard operating procedure, all of these would normally have been presented to their respective review committees for consistency with the current documents, RNC Rules, Roberts Rules of Order and plain old grammar and word usage well before the Official Call was issued so, in accordance with the Bylaws, they could be issued with that Call. Instead, due to a loophole in precedence previously used by one of those dropping these amendments, these will go directly to the Central Committee as they are, warts and all.

The purpose of this article is not to discuss the merits of the plethora of proposed amendments and deletions, but to point out the poor timing. When the State Central Committee reorganizes early next year – interestingly, the next regular meeting – the Bylaws are automatically under review. It and the election of Officers are the only business at that meeting.

So, rather than waiting for the meeting dedicated to the process of considering amendments, these folks decided a better use of time that could have gone into plans and preparation for getting Republicans elected this year would be to occupy ORP leadership with minutia surrounding altering Rules and Bylaws most members of the state Central Committee never considered problematic.

There’s one other element of this situation that bears reporting. Although not among those submitting amendments for consideration, one of the cabal behind the bombardment and, like them, a freshmen member of the Central Committee, took it upon himself to tell the state GOP Chairman how the agenda should be set up. As you might imagine, the Chair didn’t take it too well. Art Robinson, himself a practiced campaigner and seasoned political veteran, responded by telling the Central Committee, in effect, he and not this newbie is in charge. That bodes well for the resolution of this issue.

It’s just sad the Central Committee will have to waste time on this during a key stage in this year’s election cycle. But some folks seem determined to make sure Republicans lose.

Written by Jeffrey S. Smith

6 August 2014 at 4:56 pm

Hidden Agenda

with one comment

There always have been, and always will be, sub-groups within the Republican Party. Some are based on demographic similarities; Young Republicans, College Republicans, the Federation of Republican Women and the like. Most of these have links to the official party structure of one sort or another while maintaining an identity distinct from the party structure itself.

Others are issue-oriented. Groups like Log Cabin Republicans, Mainstream Republicans, Republican Liberty Caucus and others all have issues – often, single issues – they seek to promote within the official party structure. Like the demographic-based groups, they tend to have both a national and state-level organization and structure but, unlike the demographic groups, the issue groups don’t usually have a seat at the party table.

In both cases, there’s a clear leadership structure; people are appointed (sometime, by themselves) or elected to be the chief representative. Membership is usually known and leaders speak on behalf of the group. There’s nothing secret or secretive about them; they tend to be up front and open about who they are and what they want.

For the past several years, however, a new phenomenon has developed within the Republican Party. There is a nationwide network of folks who not only tend to stay under the radar, they seem determined to deliberately operate in stealth mode. Here in Oregon, there have been a number of examples of this, most notably the “false flag” delegate attempt during the 2012 election cycle.

The latest instance is a plot to bypass and undercut the ORP organizational structure. Don’t get me wrong; there’s no problem with people organizing to better communicate or promote an agenda. That’s pretty much standard fare within political organizations. But you can’t help but wonder what’s going on when those people keep not only their identity a secret but make no attempt to explain their agenda or why they’re not operating within the long-established system described in the ORP Bylaws and Rules.

What I’m referring to is the Oregon PCP News website – apparently created and maintained by those behind the 80-page nuisance lawsuit mentioned in Making sure Republicans lose – which purports to be an way for Oregon Republican PCPs to communicate with each other between regular meetings. On the surface, that appears innocent enough and there’s an Oregon PCP Facebook page, a email distribution list used by the state Central Committee and most county GOP organizations provide similar internal communications networks to accomplish just that. In fact, there’s so much interactive communication going on within the ORP it begs the question why this one is even needed.

There are a couple of troubling wrinkles to this forum. First, ORP Chair Art Robinson has said he knows nothing about it. Back in the late 1990s, I was Interim Chair of the Oregon Republican Assembly, an ardently conservative state group affiliated with the National Federation of Republican Assemblies. Our goal was to build upon the existing conservative nature of the GOP, taking on leadership roles and pushing a more consistent conservative agenda. As we were getting organized, I met with Deanna Smith, then ORP Chair, to discuss the nature and goals of the group. There were several things upon which we agreed and a number of them where we disagreed, but the point is it was done in the open and, while not with the consent of the ORP leadership, with their knowledge. That’s the way it should be done. If Chair Robinson doesn’t know about this group or this website, there’s been no such interaction. Despite the implication by one of the known leaders that it’s done under the authority of the ORP, it could actually be hostile to him and to the ORP leadership. As it happens, there’s evidence that’s exactly the case.

Along the same lines, this group is shrouded in secrecy. The website states its policy is to not divulge the names of its members. It’s understandable why it wouldn’t be willing to do so to media or those outside the group; that’s just basic security procedure. It is, however, of concern that they won’t reveal who is administering the website. They also don’t allow forwarding addresses, using as an example “chair@yourcounty.com,” saying this could lead to non-members inadvertently becoming part of the group. Why is this a concern? All county officers are elected by (and usually elected out of) the PCP; don’t they automatically meet the criteria?   What does the group need to keep hidden from the ORP leadership that they don’t want membership to slide easily and automatically if there’s a change?

The final wrinkle is that it’s creating a top-down shadow GOP. The entire structure of the ORP is the PCPs form the core, elected by registered Republicans and organizing at the county level. Most counties even break that up into House District or other areas so the PCP at the grassroots level are working most closely with each other. The counties then elect their representation at the state level, which forms the overall governing body, the state Central Committee. Out of that are elected the state Officers who, with District leaders elected directly by the PCP, comprise the Executive Committee. How is a self-appointed, largely unrevealed group of people operating at the state level an improvement on a bottom-up grassroots structure?

Again, there’s nothing wrong with PCP communicating with each other, and there’s a great benefit in cross-pollination around the state. There are mechanisms in place to do that. It’s just questionable when it’s done outside the party structure without being clear as to who’s involved and why.

Written by Jeffrey S. Smith

30 July 2014 at 11:14 am

Posted in Musings

Tagged with , , ,

Making sure Republicans lose

with 4 comments

Almost since its founding in the late 1850’s, the Republican Party has been plagued by internal strife. It’s a party of moral righteousness (and, often, self-righteousness) that takes founding principles very, very seriously. Clashes between firebrand ideologues and more restrained pragmatists have been fought over a myriad of issues, ideas, strategies and tactics.

Such contentiousness was a hallmark of the first Republican Presidential Administration, that of Abraham Lincoln and the tendency shows no signs of slackening. We fight over issues like abortion and gay marriage, over candidates, over leadership, calling them “RINO”, “Establishment” or other pejoratives that dehumanize, minimize and otherwise generalize about people with whom we, for the most part, agree much more than we disagree.

I can’t say for sure that it’s currently the worst it’s ever been as I haven’t been around the entire 150+ years, but I can tell you it’s currently the worst I’ve seen in the 30+ years I have been involved. Bear in mind that includes the “Religious Right” takeover of the party a couple of decades back and a number of internal squabbles since.

Oregon’s Republican Party is, like many other states, in the throes of a struggle for control. A shadow party has been and is currently being developed, comprised largely of sycophants of a personality cult who use deception, ballot-stuffing, lawsuits and intimidation as their primary tactics to undermine those who were elected by their peers to lead the organization.

Just to be clear, there’s nothing wrong with disagreement within the party; in fact, it’s a sign of a healthy organization. If we wanted uniformity, we’d join a cult; it’s easier, and someone else sets all the rules. But there’s no future in a party which won’t raise funds, which targets its own candidates and leaders for removal. How does it help elect Republicans to file an 80-page frivolous lawsuit? Even though it was thrown out, both the author and the targets wasted time focused on it rather than anything that might be construed as helping defeat the socialist left both parties want to at least forestall, if not defeat.

Meanwhile, I’m on the email lists of both the Obama propaganda/organizing network and the DPO. They’re working hard at getting money, at setting the tone, of launching programs intended to rally support and undermine or distract the Republican base. They realize we’re in a long-term, incremental war for the soul of America. Since it’s only viable opposition is aiming its collective guns inward, it can’t help but win – if not this year, then in 2016.

They’re willing to wait while we squabble ourselves into irrelevance. In fact, some would argue we’re already there.

Written by Jeffrey S. Smith

11 July 2014 at 11:39 am

Posted in Musings

Tagged with , , ,

Disenfranchised?

with 9 comments

Since the adjournment of the 2012 Oregon Republican District Convention June 23rd we’ve heard a lot about how the Precinct Committee People (PCP) were “disenfranchised”.  They had a right, or so the story goes, to vote on Alternate Delegates to the Republican National Convention.  By ending the Convention at 5:00pm, even though the published agenda made it clear that was the scheduled deadline, and not casting ballots for At-Large and Congressional District (CD) Alternates, they were denied their chance to vote on those positions.

To add insult to injury, the Alternates were chosen by the ORP Executive Committee, who didn’t vote for the people the PCP had intended to vote for.  Instead, this group of so-called “elite” used their power to vote for their “friends”, ignoring the “clear will of the PCP”. To hear them tell it, it’s disgraceful and an obvious abuse of power.

But there’s more to the story.  To understand the full picture, we need to step back a bit and follow the tale starting not with the District Convention, but with the Primary election in May.  At that time, a majority of the Republicans voting chose Mitt Romney (204,176) as their preference for President.  Coming in a distant second was Ron Paul (36,810), followed by Rick Santorum (27,042) with Newt Gingrich trailing (15,451).  Based on criteria that had been set up before, this resulted in Romney earning 18 Delegates to the National Convention from Oregon, Ron Paul and Rick Santorum with 3 each and just 1 for Gingrich.

This is where the plot thickens.  Supporters of Dr. Paul decided to ignore the clear will of the Republicans in Oregon and, instead, ran a number of people loyal to him as candidates for Delegate and Alternate pledged to Romney, Santorum and Gingrich.  Since they had a committed minority of those attending the District Convention, this elite cadre could – and did – elect their friends in place of Delegate candidates actually committed to the other Presidential contenders.

Rather than a delegation that reflected the will of the Republican voters of Oregon, the scheme was to substitute a Delegation that reflected the goals and values of a minority of the PCP.  Based on voting results from each of the Districts, the Paul supporters comprised 40-45% of those in attendance but, because they voted in near lock-step, they gained a result far out of proportion not only to their numbers but out of keeping with what the voters had indicated.   Instead of the Delegate spread as determined by the Primary vote result, Ron Paul had 16 Delegates from Oregon with the other 9 scattered among the other three Presidential candidates.

The full scope of the plan was thwarted when the Convention ran out of time.  There are conspiracy theories about the ORP and/or Team Romney running out the clock, but the main culprit was simple human error and the logistics challenge of holding a single meeting in five locations simultaneously.  One District had the bulb on their projector burn out and then took an extended lunch break, putting it nearly three hours behind the agenda for the day.  Another changed the order of elections so that the CD Delegate elections came late in the day.  As a result, the intrinsically interlinked meetings were all stalled waiting for results before they could move on.  In any event, the Convention was adjourned before the Alternate elections could take place.

The ORP has a rule to deal with a situation like this, and has had since 2005.  Standing Rule 11 provides for the state Executive Committee to appoint Alternates to any position left vacant.  Usually, that occurs when someone who was elected isn’t able to go but, in the past, has also included situations when not enough Alternates are elected to fill all available positions.  Thus, the Executive Committee was called together to select those Alternates, and did so by election on June 30.

Since they understood the purpose of the Convention is to elect a Delegation that matches, more or less, the vote of Republicans in the state and as a way to honor those who had worked for the various candidates, the Executive Committee invited representatives from each campaign to send a representative to provide the names of people they’d like to see included as Alternates.  The Newt Gingrich campaign didn’t send anyone, and a long-time ORP activist was elected to that slot.  The Ron Paul representative spent the first four minutes of his time talking about himself and, after being reminded why he was asked to be there, spent the last talking about Dr. Paul.   Since he provided no recommendations, three people known to be Paul supporters were elected as those Alternates.

The person who directed the Santorum effort in Oregon presented recommendations and tales of what they’d done for the campaign.  He and two of the other two he suggested were elected.  The Romney representative provided a list of those who’d been involved in their campaign not only in 2012 but, in many cases, in 2008 as well.  This included 2 of the 3 people selected in CD2 after that meeting voted for an Extension in compliance with Robert’s Rules of Order after the Adjournment.  They, too, were elected.

So, it kind of comes down to who disenfranchised whom, and who deserves representation.  You see, PCP are elected to be representatives of the registered Republicans in their precinct.  They can, of course, vote any way they want but, like those elected to the Legislature, are expected to reflect their constituency.   By substituting their own will for that of the people they are called upon to represent, did these PCP act like the worst and most corrupt of politicians?

And did the Executive Committee, by using the will of the people as their guide, really disenfranchise a minority of PCP or more accurately restore balance, to a point, to the Oregon Delegation?  If the PCP were right in voting their own will over a majority of the people, why is the Executive Committee wrong in doing the same thing in voting theirs over that of a minority  the PCP?

Written by Jeffrey S. Smith

15 July 2012 at 4:54 pm

%d bloggers like this: