Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Local GOP activists cry foul over state party convention

Posted by on Wed, Apr 18, 2012 at 4:57 PM

El Paso County GOP Chair Eli Bremer

The El Paso County Republican Party is at the center of a brewing controversy that could, perhaps have statewide implications for the GOP.

Surprise.

What the controversy makes clear is that there are still active, vocal members of the local party who are very unhappy with their chairman, Eli Bremer, and his occasionally in-absentia leadership.

Tres Melton, a local Republican activist, has the scoop.

Writing at the website Green Dragon Tavern, Melton describes events from this past Saturday's state Republican GOP assembly.

At contention was the treatment of the alternates for El Paso County. According to a formal complaint written by local Republican activist and precinct chair Amy Mitchell, a number of delegates didn't show up in time to be credentialed by the 9:30 a.m. deadline. That cost these absent delegates their spots — as well it should have, Mitchell argues — and alternates were called up to take the absent delegates' votes.

This is what alternates are for, after all.

However, by the time 11 o'clock had rolled around, a number of the tardy delegates had shown up, gotten credentialed, and taken their spots and ballots back from the alternates.

From Mitchell's complaint:

Per the Rules of the Colorado Republican State Assembly and Convention April 14, 2012:
“2. Credentials
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.”

While the treatment of the alternates has Mitchell riled, it's that last bit about the county chair that is the crux of her complaint because Bremer, the county party chair, wasn't in attendance. He was out of town on work. So, Bill Roy, the party's unelected COO and general manager, stepped up and assumed the responsibilities of the chair.

And while this sounds like a fine solution to the chair's absence, the problem, at least according to Mitchell and others, is that there is nothing in the party's bylaws that explicitly allows for the chairman to delegate his role at the assembly to an unelected employee of the party. There is, however, a clear description of just who is supposed to step up to assume the role of the chair when the chair is out-of-town for work. And that would fall on the vice-chairman, a position currently held by David Williams

As are readers are aware, it is far from a secret that he and Bremer have a contentious relationship.

Mitchell sent an e-mail to Williams, questioning Roy's role at the assembly:

Was the EL PASO COUNTY GOP Chairman Eli Bremer present at the State GOP Convention Saturday, April 14, 2012? If he was not present, were you aware of his absence and the reasons for his absence (we did not see or hear from him)? Mr. Williams, what is the protocol, or is there a protocol for addressing the inability or absence of the El Paso County GOP Chairman to perform his duties?

Here was Williams' response to Mitchell:

It is to my understanding that Chairman Eli Bremer was not present at the 2012 Colorado State GOP Assembly held on April 14, 2012. I did not receive notification of his absence prior to the assembly, and I was not made aware of his absence until the assembly’s proceedings were nearly finished. Consequently, I cannot speak to the reasons for his absence.

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.”

The Chairman does have the ability to delegate certain responsibilities to our volunteers or staff, but I cannot cite any authoritative bylaw or rule that grants the ability of another person (who is not the Vice-Chair, or in some rare instances, the Secretary) to perform the functions of a Chairman who is temporarily absent from the county, or temporarily unable to perform his/her duties.

This matter was brought to Bremer's attention by Mitchell and Williams, and he replied to both:

I was unable to attend due to work obligations. An uninformed understanding of the bylaws would indicate that the Vice Chairman would effectively become the Chairman the second the Chairman's foot leaves the county. However, by definition, the County Party Chairman is probably going to be out of the county
during the State Assembly (unless the State Assembly is in El Paso County). So clearly this was not the intent of the bylaws or they would have stated that the Vice-Chairman shall run the party at all events and functions that take place outside the county physical boundaries. So we look at the intent of the bylaws which is clearly that the Vice-Chairman can execute the mission set forth by the Chairman for the benefit of the Party when the Chairman is not able to fulfill the duties. This was not included for the benefit of the Vice-Chairman or for an
unneeded change of leadership structure, it was there to ensure continuity of leadership at the Party and a completion of the mission and vision set out by the Chairman should he be unable to accomplish his job.


Back to the complaint about the treatment of the alternates: In an e-mail, Roy takes full responsibility for the mixup:

The basic issue was that I prematurely decided to move up ALL alternates who had credentialed into the Assembly. Here’s why: At 10:15 AM I received the preliminary credential report, which revealed that we could move up all 146 of the alternates who had checked in. That number even left us with slots for an additional 163 alternates (based on 333 out of a possible 642 delegates who had checked in). My decision to move up all alternates seemed like a good decision since I was told by two Credential Team members that the State GOP halted credentialing at approximately 9:15 AM.

Indeed, they did stop credentialing at that time, but only so that they could collect and report their numbers for the initial credential report. I did not know they would continue to credential delegates and alternates until 11:00 AM. In that ensuing period, El Paso County added another 150 delegates (for a total of 483 delegates) and another 66 alternates (for a total of 212 alternates). That meant we could only promote a total of 159 alternates to the status of a voting alternate.

Thus, 53 of our 212 alternates who were present could not be moved up (212 – 159 = 53), and that group of 53 alternates included you and the other alternates ranked at #345 and above. I received the final credential report at about 12:30 PM, and then attempted to formulate a plan to distribute the ballots in light of the adjusted delegate and alternate numbers. By about 1:30 PM we began to hand out ballots to delegates and alternates ranked #344 or lower.

Mitchell's full complaint:

Eli Bremer April 17, 2012
Chairman, EL Paso County GOP
205 Sutton Lane
Colorado Springs, CO 80907

Dear Eli,

I am in receipt of multiple e-mails stating your position with regard to the events which transpired on the floor at the State Assembly Saturday April 14th, 2012 relating to advancing alternates to voting delegates for El Paso County.

How could there be an unauthorized person distributing ballots and moving up alternates for El Paso County at the State Assembly? According to Mr. Williams’ letter to answer my question, the only person authorized to do so is the Chairman or the Vice-Chairman of the El Paso County GOP as he cited 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.” Eli, you acknowledged in the e-mail yesterday you were not at the 2012 State Assembly “due to work obligations”.

The fact that alternates for El Paso County were moved up to fill delegate slots, then unseated and other individuals were then seated causes us concern that the alternates that were ultimately advanced to fill vacant delegate seats were improperly advanced after the close of the credentialing deadline and the reading of the credential report.

Bylaws of the Colorado State Republican Committee state:
“ARTICLE XIII: ASSEMBLIES AND CONVENTIONS
Section F. Voting.
1. No proxies shall be allowed or recognized in any assembly or convention. Any vacancy shall be filled by an alternate present, selected from the list of alternates by numerical order, beginning with the first alternate.” [emphasis added].

Per the Rules of the Colorado Republican State Assembly and Convention April 14, 2012:
“2. Credentials
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.”

This is not what happened. There was a reading of the credentials report. Ryan Call “temporarily” suspended the approval of the credentials report. It was then stated to the El Paso County alternates that ALL ALTERNATES would be advanced to fill vacant delegate seats; they brought forward 1-50 on the first round of alternates, then called all remaining alternates and stated they would all be voting as delegates; round orange stickers were added to their credential tags. Later after alternates were advanced to fill vacant delegate seats another credentials report was made with OTHER numbers. After this second reading alternates who had been advanced were required by Bill Roy to withdraw to the upper seating of the arena to allow other delegates to be seated. Bill Roy placed a doorkeeper (someone to watch the stairs and control the alternates that were moved forward, then removed, as delegates) at the stairs of the seating area and he instructed us to stay seated behind the blue tape. When one of the disenfranchised alternate/delegates went down to speak to the doorkeeper, the doorkeeper raised his voice and put his hand on the alternate and told him to get back to his seat. When the alternate said to the doorkeeper not to raise his voice at him and to remove his hand from him immediately, the doorkeeper called Bill Roy and the Denver Police arrived quite quickly and instructed the doorkeeper he could not restrain anyone and to remove himself from the stairs immediately. Bill Roy showed up sometime later to inform us that he only had one ballot and all others were not going to be able to vote. When asked why, he stated the State GOP messed up and allowed delegates to check in at a later time than the cutoff. Bill Roy in his apology e-mail of April 15th stated “ I did not know they would continue to credential delegates and alternates until 11:00 AM.” See attached e-mail.

Since there are discrepancies which have been reported not only as to numbers of delegates/alternates actually attending, but also as to reasons and methodology of moving alternates forward, we are requesting copies of the scanned credentials of delegates and alternates, both credential reports, time and date stamping of the credentials of delegates and alternates, time the scanning was terminated, time the scanning of additional (newly arrived) delegates was commenced, counts of delegates/alternates entering through access points and their locations (who came into which door) in the arena, as well as the rules which govern the check-in time and deadline time for delegate/alternate check-in and rules for reporting credentialing. Additionally, please provide us with a complete recording of the entire convention proceedings for Saturday, April 14, 2012 including the committee meetings after the general assembly including any and all secretarial notes, memorandums, e-mails relating to these proceedings, a complete list of the Tellers overseeing the ballot counting process, and who was entering/exiting the teller room(s) during the count, as we have reports that numerous people were seen to be entering and leaving during this process. This request is not limited to the above documents, but may be amended as we proceed.

Bill Roy reported to us on April 14th that the problem was with the state GOP and the electronic scanning system. It has also been reported that an independent company offered to provide electronic scanning/tallying services for a nominal cost to the GOP of $50.00. This seems like a very small price to enjoy an arm’s length third party verification. Is this the case? Please provide the proposal and denial letter from the GOP.

Attached is a copy of an apology letter (sent by e-mail) from Bill Roy taking full responsibility for the misunderstanding, for the misappropriation of alternate votes, and vindicating the state GOP (Ryan Call) of any wrongdoing. It is difficult to filter through the information provided since several pieces of information received seem to contradict one another. An apology is not sufficient in this case; only a full investigation of what transpired on Saturday, April 14th, 2012 will suffice.

We are hereby requesting all written and electronic documentation (not only for El Paso County GOP, but also for the State of Colorado GOP) be preserved for review.

Please consider this document together with all requests herein as a formal complaint that El Paso County GOP was not properly represented as per El Paso County GOP Bylaws. The Chairman did not notify the Vice-Chair of his absence and inability to perform his function at the Republican State Assembly so the Vice-Chairman could fulfill his function; and be able to act de jure, instead of Bill Roy acting de facto carrying out his activities of the day.

El Paso County GOP’s Bylaw relating to this issue WAS NOT CHANGED at the January 21, 2012 Central Committee Meeting, in fact you will recall the proposed change was not passed due to the lack of 2/3 vote at that meeting; the bylaw which is current - cited above (Section 6.02 B1) - is totally in agreement with your comment in your e-mail that this section is “there to ensure continuity of leadership at the Party and a completion of the mission and vision set out by the Chairman should he be unable to accomplish his job.” I will point out that the leadership you are referring to is the elected leadership. Surely you must consider the El Paso County Chairman’s duties and oversight of tasks at the State Assembly to be encompassed in the mission, vision and job of the Chairman. We submit that since you were out of town, “due to work obligations” and failed to notify both the party and the Vice-Chairman for the Vice-Chairman to act as the appropriately authorized officer as the bylaws call for, you have failed to “ensure”, as you stated, the continuity of elected leadership of the party; particularly that those duties of the Chairman at the State Assembly would be appropriately carried out in a manner prescribed by protocol at such an important event.

For the Chairman to negate and act outside the provisions of the bylaws which require the Vice-Chairman to act in his capacity to carry out duties when the Chairman is unavailable is inappropriate and unacceptable.
We feel we have been completely disenfranchised from a clean, transparent due process of our rights to participate in the elections at the Colorado State Assembly of the Republican Convention 2012. Historically, when have alternates ever been moved to fill a delegate seat (after the credential report), then removed to allow late arriving delegates to fill those seats?

Since you have indicated that events at the State Assembly went “very well” on the part of El Paso County, I have elected to include Scott Gessler, Secretary of State, and others in this correspondence.

Hopefully, you will provide the documentation requested promptly (within twenty-four [24] hours) so we can address these issues swiftly within the GOP.
Respectfully,
Amy Mitchell
CFRW CAP Alert Standing Committee Chair
CSRW Member
Precinct Committee Person 102
Chair, El Paso County Tea Party

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