The State Central Committee held a special phone meeting on Wednesday June 1 to deal with the issue of potential conflicts of interest. The issue was brought up by my friend Art Smith at The Conservative Reader and Kevin Hall at the Iowa Republican. The issue is State Central Committee Members serving on campaigns and endorsing candidates in the Straw Poll and Caucuses.
Most readers know my personal position. I promised to not accept a paid staff or consultant position with any campaign, nor to endorse any candidate in a contested GOP primary or caucus while serving on the SCC. When my friend Christian Fong ran for governor, I resigned in order to publicly endorse and work as a volunteer on his campaign.
During the meeting, John Ortega made a motion to ask those members who were working for campaigns to re-affirm their commitment to represent their districts and to recuse themselves from votes that would benefit their candidates. I believe that Jeremiah Johnson moved to amend and Ortega's motion. Ultimately, I made the motion that the committee passed. the motion read:
I know that at least in the old 2nd district the sentiment has been that SCC members hould be prohibited form serving on campaigns and advocacy groups altogether. However, not wishing to pass an ex post facto law, no one on the committee advocated such a measure.
My purpose in crafting the motion was to shine light on the issue through disclosure without punishing anyone. Those members who currently serve on campaigns are not in violation of any rule, bylaw or provision of the RPI constitution. Further, I have no concerns about the integrity of these members, I believe that they will carry out their duties keeping the best interest of the party in mind and will recuse themselves voluntarily when necessary.
By way of disclosure, Tim Moran works for Congressman King, Wes Enos is on Michelle Bachmann's staff, Drew Ivers, David Fischer and AJ Spiker are on Ron Paul's staff. And this evening when I visited the Dubuque County CC meeting I learned that Jeremiah Johnson has publicly endorsed Ron Paul.
When the vote took place, Wes chose to abstain. Art Smith reports that the motion passed 10-4 with one abstention. According to Art one "no" vote came from a member who wanted stronger action. The other three votes took me by surprise. Ivers, Fischer and Spiker all voted no.
Recently I was told that there was a perception that this was an anti-Ron Paul effert. The person who told me this suggested that since historically many SCC members have served on campaigns but there has never been any concern until now when three members were working for the same candidate. This is not the case. There has been concern about SCC conflicts of interest for many years. The concerns have largely arisen out of my district, the old 2nd District. In fact in our first district convention 2002 passed a rule prohibiting just such behavior. The measure went on to defeat at the state convention. This is not new and is not anti-Ron Paul.
In his blog Art Smith suggests that a stronger measure may come before the State Convention. I know there are strong feelings on both sides of this issue, I suspect that Art is right.