There is an amendment to the bylaws of the Republican Party of Iowa up for consideration at the Dec 8th meeting of the State Central Committee. The current constitution and bylaws are available on the party’s website. The bylaw change is being proposed by 2nd District SCC member Marcus Fedler.
The change is in response to some events that occurred during the 2012 primary campaign. During the primary, the House Majority Fund sent out some mailings in support of incumbents who had Republican primary challengers.
The problem that many people had (myself included) is that the House Majority Fund is run through RPI and the mailing said, Paid for by the Republican Party of Iowa. It certainly gave the appearance that the RPI, the state party, was picking sides in the primary.
To put in perspective, the House Majority Fund, and its sibling, the Senate Majority Fund, consist of monies raised by the House and Senate caucuses under their respective leaders. RPI comes into the picture because neither caucus is an independent political entity. RPI provides numerous services to the caucuses. Both funds have employees and these employees are employees of RPI. RPI handles all the paperwork and payroll for them. RPI provides office space, equipment, utilities, etc. The controversy occurred because the caucuses also use RPI’s mailing permit and mailings must include the disclaimer,Paid for by the Republican Party of Iowa. House Speaker Kraig Paulsen came to an SCC meeting to address the issue this summer. He and I spoke beforehand and I assured him that I did not want to hinder his ability to raise money and spend it as he saw fit to benefit his caucus. I reiterated that one of the tangible benefits that RPI provides is handling the paperwork, being the employer of record and managing the bank accounts, mailing and ethics filing for the caucuses. Significantly, we wanted to continue supporting the caucuses in these ways. The only stipulation would be that the caucuses could no longer use RPI’s disclaimer in support of a particular candidate in a contested primary.
Here is Fedler’s proposed amendment:
The Republican Party of Iowa shall not use any resources for the benefit of any Republican candidate in contested primary races. “Resources” includes but is not limited to; the use of Party funds obtained in any way; the use of the name “The Republican Party of Iowa” on mailers, emails, press releases, or any campaign materials of any kind; the use of nonprofit mail status; lists; or staff. This section shall not preclude any member of The Republican Party of Iowa from individually supporting candidates in Primary races.
I am in favor of the principle. The principle that RPI remain officially neutral in primaries. My view on SCC members publicly endorsing or working for primary candidates is well known. But I believe that the last sentence of this amendment is redundant. There is indeed nothing in this section that could be construed as preventing individual members from supporting or even accepting paid positions with candidates in primaries.
As a rules guy, I believe in simple clear language. When this amendment comes up for debate, I will be a supporter, but I will suggest the following alternative language:
The resources of the Republican Party of Iowa shall not be used to benefit any individual candidate in a contested primary.
In the current climate, I suspect that there will be some who believe that my proposal is an effort to weaken the amendment. That I am trying to set up a rule that would force the SCC to remove members who support candidates in primaries. There is no conspiracy here, I am on board with this amendment. I just believe in simple concise wording.