How The Establishment Wrecked a State Assembly
This is a long and complicated trail that started years ago. I won't go into all the history but will say that the establishment in El Paso county Colorado, in a desperate attempt to retain control of the county GOP, set a number of things in motion that culminated in a disaster at the Colorado State Assembly and Convention. Let's hit the highlights.
When the officers of the county GOP were elected in February 2011 the elections did not go as the establishment planned. The Vice Chair, David Williams, and the Secretary, Sarah Anderson, that were elected were way too libertarian (small 'L' libertarian, not to be confused with the capital 'L' Libertarian Party). These tensions were first brought out in public by Chet Hardin's article in The Independent: Anarchy in the GOP. The heat that this article brought down on Sarah was unbelievable but she withstood it as long as she could. The establishment blamed her for the actions of the many and varied liberty groups of activists in Colorado Springs and the surrounding El Paso county.
These tensions actually started here, and around the country, with the shameful way that Dr. Ron Paul's supporters were treated in 2008. Neither the establishment nor Dr. Paul's supporters wanted a repeat of what happened in 2008; I can't say that they both wanted the same thing though. Thus, the tensions were already a given long before the 2012 State Assembly. The establishment, mainly through the county Chair, Eli Bremer, forced Sarah to resign via constant and relentless pressure. It started with a three hour executive session where the establishment denied Sarah's 50+ supporters entry. Sarah was censured in that session.
"One thing that was unanimous — it wasn't unanimous by a vote, it was in very loose context that it was unanimous. Eli, once again, used his tyrannical power to dictate that everything that happened in that closed-door session was to be confidential. No vote on that." -- Kanda Calef, former Chief of Staff for the Colorado Speaker of the House
One thing to note is that many of the new-comers to the GOP were questioning the undeclared wars in Iraq and Afghanistan which was a major point of contention between the libertarian leaning activists and the establishment. Particularly Eli Bremer, nephew of Paul Bremer, ambassador to Iraq and a chief architect of the Iraqi war's aftermath. In El Paso county you either toe the party line completely or you get out. And if you won't get out then they try to shut you out. If that logic was followed then the Grand Old Party would be 1/10th the size that it is; we might as well hand the Democrats all the political offices they want.
To further the goals of keeping to the party line and quieting all dissent a Donor Directed Fund was established whereby a donor to the party could decide where their contributions were spent. Although this may sound good no rules were established to ensure legal compliance with campaign laws or transparency as detailed in the linked article.
This leaves the fund open for misuse. The chairman could decide not to accept a donation because he doesn't like how the donor wants it spent. A donor might agree to fund radio ads, but on the condition a candidate's name not be included. Or a donor might attempt to circumvent campaign finance laws, donating on the condition that it be spent on a single candidate. -- Kay Rendleman, former El Paso county GOP Chair
The next step in ensuring establishment control was to anoint a Chief Operations Officer: Bill Roy. I say anoint, even though his hiring was approved by the Central Committee, because he is a long time friend of Eli Bremer. He is also a fellow Air Force Academy graduate and also on the Olympic Team with Eli. Can there be any doubt that he was hired to help Eli and the establishment keep the liberty activists within the party in check? That became abundantly clear when he invited the grassroots to a meeting on the pretence of listening to them. When they arrived the room was stacked with establishment people that attacked every point they tried to make. It became clear he had no intention of listening to them. At that point most of the grassroots walked out of the meeting with the feeling that Eli's newly anointed henchman had just declared war on them. The main point to remember here is that Bill Roy was not elected; he was hired.
At the State Assembly
Now that the stage has been set, let's examine what happened at the Assembly. Eli Bremer, the El Paso county Chair, couldn't make it to the event because of work obligations. He failed to inform anyone of this outside of his little establishment circle. He obviously informed Bill Roy, an unelected person with an official sounding title, as he stepped-in and assumed the duties of Chairman. David Williams, the county Vice-Chairman, and Ryan Call, the Colorado state Chairman, also failed in ensuring that the Chairman was present. It only makes sense that they should have done this because what if Eli was trying to attend and gotten hit by a bus? I suppose it would have become relevant when someone tried to report to them, like say the Credentials Committee.
Bill Roy circumvented this by accepting the credentials report from the committee. I am not a lawyer but that doesn't exactly sound procedurally correct to me. Ryan Call, in his duties as the state chair, had to receive the credentials report from each and every county represented at the state assembly (all 64 of them) and should have noticed that it wasn't the county chairman giving him the report. I'm sure Mr. Call knows of Eli as he was asked to arbitrate the censure of Sarah Anderson less than a year earlier. All of these potential safeguards must have been expertly avoided by a trained military strategist, Bill Roy, for this apparent deception to have taken place. Nowhere in the by-laws of either the Colorado GOP or the El Paso GOP are there provisions for an unelected surrogate to take charge. In fact when Amy Mitchell, a local activist and elected Precinct Committee Person in El Paso county, asked VC David Williams about this he responded:
Concerning your questions regarding protocol, I can only cite our county party bylaws. I believe they happen to be the only authoritative document that addresses your concerns. According to Article VI, Section 6.02, Letter B:1 (page 10), "The Vice-Chairman shall exercise the functions of the Chairman during the temporary absence from El Paso County, or the temporary inability of the Chairman."
There is absolutely no provision in the bylaws for the established chair to delegate any of his responsibilities in an assembly to anyone other than the vice chair: an elected officer of the county GOP.
The next mistake appears to have happened at the state level as credentialing delegates and alternates continued well past the 9:30 am designated in the Rules of the Colorado Republican State Assembly and Convention April 14, 2012:
2.4 Credentialing Required by 9:30 A.M./Voting by Alternates.
(a) Delegates and Alternates are required to be credentialed by 9:30 a.m. on April 14, 2012.
(b) Any delegate who is not credentialed by 9:30 a.m. may have his ballot given to the first alternate of that county and continuing numerically thereafter, except in any county where an alternate to the Assembly and Convention was elected to represent a designated district or precinct. In such case, the designated district or precinct alternate shall be entitled to vote in the absence of the delegate in accordance with the rules of the County Republican Party or the ruling of the County Chairman.
(c) The decisions and rulings of the County Chairman regarding the promotion of alternates shall be final.
Bill Roy holds no position to promote any alternate to delegate according to the above rule: 2.4.c. He then goes on to state that credentialing resumed after the pause at 9:15am (for the initial credentials report) until 11:00am, well past what the rules allow for; that error falls directly on Ryan Call. Bill Roy, in his apology letter, stated that many of the newly seated delegates (alternates that had been promoted) would not be allowed to vote. A seated Delegate cannot be removed without a 2/3 vote of the Assembly. Interestingly, the rules pages has been removed from the state GOP's website: http://www.cologop.org/2012-state-assembly-and-convention-rules/.
Things only seemed to get worse when Mr. Roy installed doorkeepers to prevent the recently rejected alternates from leaving their section in the stadium by illegally blocking the stairs. The Denver police were brought in when someone simply asked why? The situation was handled poorly. Fortunately, the Denver Police understood the law better than Bill Roy.
It was a perfect storm of events that came together to disenfranchise those citizens that had taken time out of their busy schedules to participate in this great Republic's election system. Whether you blame the late credentialing or the extremes the establishment went to in denying any non-establishment a role in participating in the process one thing is clear: things did not go smoothly!
If there is to be unity within the party then all points of view must be accepted and discussed. If the establishment continues to try and keep out anyone with a differing opinion on the undeclared wars. Smaller government, as defined by the libertarian oriented Republicans, means shrinking government. Merely shrinking its rate of growth is how the establishment defines it. The evils of a fiat currency and the many other topics the young and energized want to discuss must be heard. If not, then the party will die off of old age. There are very few young people that the establishment finds acceptable wanting to join now days. And those that followed Dr. Paul into the party are starting to think that GOP stands for Gettin' outa Politics.
Editor's Note: I find it interesting that the best source of local information on GOP politics comes from the left leaning The Independent. Not the more conservative publication The Gazette. Kudos to Chet Hardin for his detailed reporting on these events.
Note2: I've since talked to David Williams and would like to clarify his political beliefs as I see them. He is a very socially conservative who doesn't believe government has a lot of business in your life. You can see how I construed the last part to be libertarian. If pushed I would call him a socially conservative person who favors limiting government.
- Letter from Amy Mitchell to David Williams (PDF)
- Reply from David Williams to Amy Mitchell (PDF)
- Letter from Bill Roy to all the disenfranchised alternates (this is an old establishment trick of trying to take the blame for the higher ups) (DOC)
- Response from Eli Bremer to Amy Mitchell (with a partial email thread) (PDF)
- The Formal Complain from Amy Mitchell (PDF)