An update on the Newton County GOP

Since mid-October, I’ve been traveling to and from Washington, DC every other week; the only exception being the week before and of Thanksgiving. This week, I’m on vacation, though I’ve still been fielding some press calls and doing some work here and there. I was looking forward to a relaxing week, especially since my birthday is on Friday. That was somewhat interrupted last night when I attended a called Newton County Republican Party committee meeting, of which I’m a member.

There has been a bit of a shake-up in the party in recent months. My good friend, Marshall McCart, has most of the details over at The Piedmont Chronicles. For those of you who don’t know, after months of no communication from party leaders, I was kicked out of the party back in September. This received some coverage over at Hot Air, though not in detail. Their reasoning was that a group of six of us, myself included, had started a competing county party, which is simply inaccurate.

To make a long story short, we held a rump convention after the local party establishment violated the Georgia Republican Party rules. When no action was taken at the state convention, we ceased holding meetings, effectively not functioning. While we didn’t recognize the local party leadership as legitimate, we had little recourse, so we decided to wait until they tried to overreach once again. We saw it as an inevitability. And, of course, when they tried to remove six of us from membership rolls with no due process, we had our opportunity.

As an aside, as I look through Facebook when I posted the letter I received from the county party, I want to take a moment to note that Henry County Republican Party Chair Vicki Temple and Georgia Republican Party Minority Outreach Director Leo Smith both reached out to me to offer support. I’m grateful to both of them for that.

I didn’t recognize the validity of the letter, nor did I cash the $35 check they sent me to reimburse my membership dues. The check, by the way, was for $10 more than the dues I paid back in February. The six of us filed an appeal back in October, and it’s still working through the process. Oddly, though, one can apparently be removed from the membership rolls but still keep their spot on the county committee, as I learned last night.

It was a strange meeting, to say the least. Interim Chair Todd Bowen approached me before he gaveled the meeting into order. He said, and I’m paraphrasing here, “We’ve never been formally introduced. I’m Todd Bowen.” We talked for a few minutes and, then, he brought the meeting to order. I learned very quickly what was going on. The purpose of the meeting was to formalize kicking those of us who were removed from membership roles out of the party by removing us from our county committee spots. Georgia Republican Party committeewoman Delia Fleming, who is a past chair of the county party and retains a spot on the county committee, was in attendance.

The plan was to vote the six of us out by a slate. In other words, one vote to remove six people. Mr. Bowen told those of who were being targeted that we couldn’t vote on the matter. After reviewing Robert’s Rules of Order, yes, a member who is the subject of expulsion can’t vote, but removing six people at once is out of order. As mentioned, Robert’s Rules of Order addresses expulsion. But the process is lengthy and difficult. It requires a report of the charges against a member and a trial, none of which were given to the six members in question.

Shortly after the meeting began, though, a motion was made to amend the agenda. Mrs. Fleming insisted that an agenda couldn’t be amended. Anyone with even a cursory understanding of Robert’s Rules of Order, by which the Newton County Republican Party runs its meetings, knows that an agenda can be amended by the body. Not only that, the agenda has to be approved by a majority of the body before any business can be conducted. Even if the agenda is adopted, it can be amended at any point during a meeting with the consent of two-thirds of the body.

Though I could have pulled it up on my iPhone, I offered to run out and purchase a copy of Robert’s Rules of Order for Mrs. Fleming to show her, in black and white print, how terribly wrong she was. Like a child throwing a temper tantrum, she stormed out of the Covington Women’s Club and slammed the door, taking her two or three proxy votes with her. Before I go on here, let me say that Mr. Bowen was in over his head. It’s not entirely his fault, but it was obvious that he was trying to stick to a predetermined outcome. He refused to conduct any business that would alter that course. I think he’s a good guy who’d been left with a tough situation and had no idea what he was doing. He threatened to resign at least a dozen times throughout the course of the meeting.

After a prolonged recess, Mr. Bowen brought the meeting back to order. One of his big protests about conducting business was that not enough people were present to do some of the things that some in the room wanted to do. It’s kind of weird, you know, that you can conduct business to kick people off the county committee meeting but not conduct business at all when things aren’t going your way. For the record, there was a quorum present, including proxies. Nevertheless, a motion was made and seconded to adjourn. That motion was soundly defeated.

Votes were held on the proposed business, though the six people in question were voted on individually, rather than a slate. The body rejected the attempt to remove the six of us. They did, however, remove those who were elected to the county committee illegally. It was at this point that Mr. Bowen resigned and walked out of the building. The secretary-treasurer of the county party refused to accept the role of interim chair, so one was appointed to close out the business of the meeting.

Whether what happened last night will be accepted by the Georgia Republican Party is another matter. My read into the situation is that they’ve grown tired of the constant back and forth in Newton County and want to bring it to an end. Of course, even if they do the right thing here, there could always be appeals and challenges, meaning that no end may be in sight.

One Comment on “An update on the Newton County GOP”

  1. Jason, for those of us already on political information overload, could you briefly recap the transgressions which precipitated the excommunication? The Republican party covers a fairly large range of political persuasions and card carrying Democrats are seemingly courted with enthusiasm. Not sure what you have done…I’m thinking you all must have publicly pledged allegiance to ISIL or something equally abhorrent?

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