The RPI Leadership Elections — Don’t Believe the Press Release

The Republican Party of Iowa

The Republican Party of Iowa

As I predicted, at this weekend’s SCC meting, Danny Carroll and Gopal Krishna were the only candidates for RPI Chair and Co-Chair. The meeting went smoothly with no conflict and only a few groan-worthy moments. (Kevin Hall at the IowaRepublican.com has more on that.)

Shortly after the election RPI put out a press release that said:

DES MOINES, Iowa– Today the Republican Party of Iowa’s State Central Committee unanimously elected Danny Carroll of Grinnell as Party Chairman.ย  …

“I was honored to receive the unanimous support of the State Central Committee during the election for a new Chairman,” said Carroll. …

Don’t believe everything you read. When the meeting started, Spiker took nominations from the floor for chairman. National Committeewoman Tamara Scott nominated Danny Carroll. Loras Schulte moved to close nominations. Then AJ said, “All those in favor of electing Danny Carroll please say Aye.” He then asked for Nay votes and the election was over.

I thought we were voting to close nominations. I had expected that this vote would be done by secret ballot as called for in the bylaws. According to the Bylaws of the Republican Party of Iowa:

… the election of Central Committee officers, the election of members of the Republican National Committee or other business where voting is conducted by use of secret ballots …

After the vote, I chose not to make a fuss … it was a done deal .. Danny Carrol is the chairman of the Republican Party of Iowa. When we followed the same procedure for Gopal’s election as co-chair, I was prepared. AJ asked for Aye votes, and when he asked for Nays, I said, “Nay and Nay by proxy for Cody Hoefert.” (Cody gave me his unlimited proxy since he is in Mexico.)

I had the pleasure of voting against Gopal twice ๐Ÿ™‚

Danny was indeed elected with no dissenting votes but it was far from unanimous.

New Leadership for RPI

The Republican Party of Iowa

The Republican Party of Iowa

Outgoing RPI chairman AJ Spiker’sย  resignation takes effect upon the election of his successor at this Saturday’s State Central Committee meeting in Des Moines. The meeting will be held at RPI headquarters and is open to the public. The meeting starts with committee meetings at 10:00 am with the main event โ€” the SCC meeting โ€” beginning at 11:00 am.

While some of my colleagues on the SCC are calling for the election to be put off until after the state convention (and for Danny Carroll to act as chair but remain co-chair) it is clear to me that the same faction that elected Carroll co-chair has sufficient votes to hold an election for chair and co-chair this Saturday.

So far the only two announced candidates are: Danny Carroll for RPI Chair and Gopal Krishna for RPI Co-Chair. My prediction is that Carroll and Krishna will be the next leadership team at RPI. Even though they will likely both run unopposed โ€” I will not cast a ballot for either one.

Outgoing RPI Chairman AJ Spiker speaks – ex cathedra

Chairman Spiker addressing the faithful

Outgoing RPI Chairman AJ Spiker addressing the faithful

Some readers may find this hard to believe but, outgoing RPI Chairman AJ Spiker and I have something in common. AJ is Catholic and knowing the man (I mean this as a compliment) most likely devout โ€” I was raised Catholic. So, both of us know what it means to speak ex-cathedra.

Ex Cathedra literally means from the chair. In Catholicism, when a pope speaks ex cathedra, he is speaking from the chair, as the successor to Saint Peter, with the authority of the Magisterum, and in keeping with Apostolic succession. It is only when speaking thus, on matters of faith or morals that the pope is infallible. According to the Catholic Encyclopedia:

We teach and define that it is a dogma Divinely revealed that the Roman pontiff when he speaks ex cathedra, that is when in discharge of the office of pastor and doctor of all Christians, by virtue of his supreme Apostolic authority, he defines a doctrine regarding faith or morals to be held by the universal Church, by the Divine assistance promised to him in Blessed Peter, is possessed of that infallibility with which the Divine Redeemer willed that his Church should be endowed in defining doctrine regarding faith or morals, and that therefore such definitions of the Roman pontiff are of themselves and not from the consent of the Church irreformable.

This Sunday, outgoing RPI Chairman (I love the sound of that!!) AJ Spiker, had an op ed

in the Des Moines Register calling for the legalization of medical marijuana. I should probably point out that though I grew up in the 60’s and 70’s โ€” I have never smoked a joint. (I did smoke some dried banana leaves once at the urging of one of my cousins but it’s not the same.) Notice, I did not say that I did not inhale. Growing up around a bunch of hippies I have inhaled more than my share of second hand pot.

On the merits, regular readers of this blog may be surprised to learn that I am not a strong opponent of medical marijuana. I am not a proponent either, I really have not given the issue much thought. I suspect, that in my life I have taken prescription drugs with potential side effects much worse than those of weed. So, while I would not be as strident as outgoing RPI Chairman AJ Spiker, our opinions are not diametrically opposed.

The issue I have with outgoing RPI Chairman AJ Spiker, is that he thinks he is the Supreme Pontiff of the Republican Party of Iowa โ€” not its chairman. One week before his resignation takes effect, Spiker has taken it upon himself to write an op ed piece in the largest circulation newspaper in the state extolling the virtues of medical marijuana. In addition, he has used the party’s social media persona to plug the opinion piece.

I have said before that one of the things outgoing RPI Chairman AJ Spiker has done well is focus more on issues. RPI has been very vocal on life, a gas tax, and the Second Amendment. All of these issues are prominent in our platform and the party has articulated the grassroots position as stated in the platform. The problem is that in this case (and others) he has taken a position not supported by the platform, a position contrary to that held by a majority of Iowa Republicans. It seems that Spiker believes that he is possessed of that Divine infallibility … and therefore such definitions of the RPI Chairman are of themselves … irreformable.

When outgoing RPI Chairman AJ Spiker and his faction took control of the party, they elected a chair and co-chair, they selected a finance chairman and replaced all of the RPI staff with people from their camp. He has been and continues to be absolutely tone deaf to any voices from outside his inner circle. No wonder he thinks himself infallible.

Outgoing RPI Chairman AJ Spiker … [[forgive me dear readers … I just had to say it one more time :)]]

On Delegates, Conventions and the Rules

delegatesThere is a storm brewing within the Republican Party of Iowa and over the selection of delegates to our District and State Conventions. This is nothing new, there was controversy in 2012 over District Delegates in Scott County (and others) and over National Delegates at our State Convention. In this particular case the center of the controversy is Polk County. Polk County has an unusual way of electing delegates to the District and State Convention.

As I understand it, in Polk County there is aย  slate of At-Large Delegates (county party officers, elected officials, etc.) the remainder of the delegates are elected by (or from) their precincts. The controversial part is that the proposed slate of at large delegates included around 100 names. RPI Chairman AJ Spiker wrote ex-cathedra on this saying:

Conventions belong to the delegates. I am looking into allegations that campaigns may have instructed county parties to adopt specific rules that are designed to determine the election of district and state convention delegates. None of our candidates or duly elected delegates should have to fear disenfranchisement.
A.J. Spiker
Chairman, Republican Party of Iowa

With the possibility that the 3rd District Convention could nominate a US House candidate and that the State Convention could nominate a US Senate candidate (not to mention the fact that the State Convention will nominate a Lieutenant Governor candidate) the stakes could not be higher. The allegation is that campaigns are trying to game the system by encouraging counties to adopt rules and/or slates that are favorable to their candidate.

I see that Spiker is looking into these allegations. As a member of the Republican State Central Committee, I wonder what he is planning to do if he becomes convinced that these allegations are true. If there is substance to the allegations, I believe that these actions are both and unethical and improper โ€” but, I do not believe they are illegal or violate any state law or RPI rules. By that I mean a campaign trying to influence a county party is not a violation of rule or law.

On the other hand, I think that the root of the problem is the way Polk (and other counties) elect delegates in the first place.

The Iowa Code (ยง43.97.3) defines one of the duties of the County Convention as to:

Elect delegates to the next ensuing regular state convention and to all district conventions of that year

Of course many will say, this is still an election, we just have a nominating committee.

According to Roberts Rules of Order, Newly Revised (11th Edition ยง46 pp.434-435) the report of the nomination committee is not something that is approved or amended. It is simply to place certain names into nomination. The section further states:

After the nominating committee has presented its report and before voting for the different offices takes place the chair must call for further nominations from the floor.

A nominating committee is certainly permissible but all it can do is nominate. Any nomination from the committee carries no more or less weight than a nomination from the floor.

I really do not mean to pick on Polk County here. They are not the only county whose practices fall outside of the rules. In fact these same comments apply to the way we have chosen at-large National Convention delegates in Iowa. I find it ironic that many of those who are claiming outrage over the situation in Polk County were supportive of or even complicit in the same kind of behavior that elected a national delegate slate at the 2012 State Convention.

There is plenty of blame to go around here. The Liberty Folk were only following a long tradition that my guys had established of using the nominating committee to let a small group of insiders control who got to attend the National Convention. I have written extensively on this topic before and I am not proud to say that I have been part of the cabal that selected delegates in the past. Shenanigans like this allow a small group of people to have inordinate influence over our party.

I am currently serving on a committee with SCC members Joel Kurtinitis, Kris Thiessen, and Mark Doland. The committee is chaired by National Comitteewoman Tamara Scott. We are charged with consideration of bylaw and constitutional changes to be submitted to the next SCC meeting and the state convention regarding the Caucus-to-Convention process.

I intend to propose an amendment clarifying how elections are to be run at every level in the Republican Party of Iowa. I would love to hear your input on this topic.