Archive for March, 2015

Carolyn is talking.

Sometimes, one wonders if it’s worth the trouble.

It appears that while you are all engaged in gathering volunteers, soliciting donors, and other activity associated with putting on another (hopefully) successful Lincoln Day Dinner, Carolyn Crain, the twice-failed LD 49 State Rep candidate is sending out mass emails asking that PCOs boycott the major fundraiser of the year. In an email sent out to 50 PCOs and members of the party, Carolyn details how her parliamentary delay tactics that had us all waiting an extra two hours to vote at the last meeting were the result of pre-meeting training in Robert’s Rules by the former CCRP parliamentarian. She also describes her efforts to find out information about each PCO in Clark County and put together lists of either ‘Liberty-aligned’ or “Loyal Supporters” in anticipation of next year’s PCO elections. The recipients of these emails, labeled ‘Loyal Supporters’, include several former party officials, some former candidates like Marc Boldt, Bill Cismar, and Julie Olson, and even the sitting tax assessor, Peter Van Nortwick, to whom the CCRP donated $1000 only last year – his first donation from the party ever, proceeds from last year’s Lincoln Day Dinner. Crain writes, “Most of us are boycotting the Lincoln Day Dinner realizing we will only be supporting those wCrainCampaignho wish to do our party in. No bad feelings should you chose to attend however please do not expect me to join you.”

While Van Nortwick has not responded to attempts to contact him regarding his level of involvement with Crain’s efforts, I did hear back from Julie Olson, who assured me that she is in no way involved with Crain or her plans to unseat leaders or boycott events, which she finds ‘counter-productive’. She told me that she is planning on attending the Lincoln Day Dinner.

So just who are Crain and her friends punishing? The CCRP donated a total of $36,420 directly to campaigns last year, about 2.5 times the $14,850 donated in 2012 under the old regime. None of the recipients of those dollars could even be remotely categorized as ‘Libertarian’. The party also spent far more on infrastructure and technology in an effort to reach more voters. None of the money that is raised at these events goes to leadership – on the contrary, most of them spend their own time and money putting on these events. By a strange coincidence, last year was one of the best years in recent memory for Republican elections, with seats gained both in the state legislature and on the county council, and five-percent gains in the LD 49 races. So who exactly is ‘doing the party in’? Where is the evidence of this terrible Libertarian conspiracy that Crain and her cohorts keep referring to? The rhetoric really is tiring, especially when we have to sit through two hours of it while Crain and her friends practice their newly-learned filibustering techniques.

In addition to perfecting her delay tactics with more Robert’s Rules training, Crain is also reportedly trying to raise the quorum for meetings from 25% to 40%, which would effectively prevent most quarterly meetings from getting any business done. Noticing a trend yet? When someone is so deeply committed to immobilizing an organization, is it possible that she is actually the one whose ‘loyal support’ might reasonably be questioned? While most conservatives are beginning to wonder if it really matters whether Republicans take Democrat seats, since many of them have no issue joining with Democrats to raise taxes anyway (I’m looking at you, Senator Rivers), it really is ridiculous to also have to deal with a few loud-mouthed folks accusing leadership of some grand Libertarian conspiracy. If they are not careful, they may get their ineffective yacht club back and we can all sit back and watch them drive it back into the ravine where we found it.

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It appears that Clark County PCOs are not the only ones who don’t meet with Susan Hutchison’s approval. In Cowlitz County, where newly-elected chairman Arne Mortensen is trying to upgrade a local Republican party that couldn’t even produce a state representative candidate to challenge the Democrat incumbent in LD 19 last year, efforts to raise funds for the year’s operations are being opposed by the WSRP. It seems that the volunteers in Cowlitz have chosen speakers for their Lincoln Day Dinner that do not meet Hutchison’s requirements for party loyalty. Alan Keyes, the former Republican Presidential candidate and Ambassador to the U.N. Economic and Social Council under President Reagan, and KrisAnne Hall, traveling Constitution teacher and a national Tea Party favorite, are apparently not on Hutchison’s list of acceptable speakers, and she has therefore decided to take the Cowlitz event off of the state party website’s event page. Steve Beren, Hutchison’s Media and Technology Director responded to requests to post the event with the following:

Steve Beren, WSRP Control Freak

The primary mission of the WSRP is to elect Republicans. The April 11 event features Alan Keyes and KrisAnne Hall, both of whom make clear their open opposition to the Republican Party. Therefore, it is not in the interest of the WSRP to provide information on its website which supports the speakers at the April 11 event.

Beren’s quote does make me wonder: If Keyes and Hall are so clearly in opposition to Republicans, why are they constantly working with them, and why on earth would they agree to speak at a Republican fundraiser? You know…where money is being raised to help Republicans who are running for office? Wouldn’t “open opposition to the Republican Party” preclude such activities? Also, if the Cowlitz party believes them to be acceptable speakers, where do Beren and Hutchison get off disagreeing with that assessment? Aren’t these the same people who only recently lectured the Clark County PCOs on purity tests in a press release? A quote from Hutchison’s public attack last month:

The Washington State Republican Party welcomes people of varied views and we proudly stand with the decision of voters when they elect our candidates.¬† Sometimes our elected officials also take votes that some disagree with.¬† This does not constitute a reason for censure.”

So ‘varied views’ are welcomed by the WSRP, unless they happen to be Tea Party/Liberty views, then…not so much. It kinda seems like the WSRP is being run by a bunch of conservative-hating Establishment hacks, doesn’t it?

I have not heard who the Clark County Lincoln Day Dinner speakers will be, but hopefully the choices are on the ‘acceptable’ list, or we might face similar state party sanctions.

Meanwhile, if you are free on April 11th, please consider checking out the Cowlitz Lincoln Day Dinner. In addition to the two blackballed speakers already mentioned, Spokane State Rep. Matt Shea will also be speaking. It is always a treat to hear from Rep. Shea, and Cowlitz was fortunate to catch him in between Republican Establishment bi-yearly attempts to primary him out of office.

Who knew that creating a couple of new committees to educate PCOs could cause all of this fuss?

It was the subject of no less than four articles in the Columbian as well as numerous pre-meeting meetings, mass email blasts, and even a couple of press releases from a congresswoman and a state party chairwoman, and last Saturday’s first quarterly meeting in 2015 of the Clark County Republican PCOs did not disappoint. 128 PCOs and a number of guests turned out to watch parliamentary delay tactics, multiple one-vote margins, amendments to amendments, and even petitions to get rid of popular leaders who were elected without opposition less than two months ago. For fans of spirited political functions (or dysfunctions) this meeting had something for everyone.

From the outset of the meeting, it was clear that twice-failed LD 49 State Rep candidate Carolyn Crain was out for blood. In the days leading up to the meeting, she and a friend had authored resolutions calling for the ouster of newly re-elected CCRP chairman Kenny Smith and State Committeeman Christian Berrigan. Upon finding out that such actions could not be raised via resolution, she then authored a petition which requires the signature of 94 PCOs in order to call a special meeting to elect new officers. She and a few friends were circulating this petition at the meeting, but other than a few of the disgruntled old guard, she was mostly being rebuffed as she approached people about it.

Of course, never one to internalize rejection, Crain plowed ahead, starting the meeting off with obviously  pre-planned delay tactics. Before the meeting had begun and the roll was still being called, she flew into a rage over a name that had been included in the roll even though the gentleman was no longer a PCO. She launched into a tirade, challenging everything from the PCO list on the website (which apparently is not yet up to date), to the roll at the previous Organization meeting. From the back of the room, former 18th LD Chairwoman Mary Graham joined in, accusing leadership of including up to 30 PCOs who were not elected, although she was unable to name any specifically who had illegally voted for the unopposed slate of candidates at the previous meeting. This was, of course, particularly ironic, since Mrs. Graham had only recently been involved in signing up unwilling PCOs with the help of a King County lawyer and ex-King County GOP employee named Apollo Fuhriman. The objections from Crain and Graham were eventually dismissed for lack of anything remotely resembling evidence. The man who had been called in the roll was actually sitting in the back of the room with a guest badge and had not been seated with the PCOs. The previous Organization meeting had also followed the list from the County website, certified by County Auditor Greg Kimsey himself.

In addition to challenging the roll call, Crain and Co. also put in a motion forcing a vote on whether the motion from the last meeting would even be heard (which lost 58-67), and later, they also forced a vote on postponing the motion indefinitely (which lost 50-66). While none of these motions were successful, the delay did cause the meeting to go well over the scheduled time, such that nine PCOs in the roll had to leave before the voting on the main issue of the day took place. I was seated next to a PCO who had to leave to go to work and was very disappointed that he didn’t get to vote on the main issue of the morning, the censure/amendment.

Eventually, after every attempt to delay was exhausted, the voting commenced. As has been reported elsewhere, the censure motion was bypassed in favor of a motion to set up two committees to watch and report on legislative voting records of local elected officials. Of note was the fact that despite the sincere efforts of the authors of the original motion to avoid more party dysfunction through the censuring of a sitting Congresswoman, the formation of the committees was vehemently opposed by most of the old guard as well as every elected official that I could see. Apparently, the politicians were not in favor of committees following their votes and making other PCOs aware of them. One such official, Battle Ground Mayor Shane Bowman, even suggested that those who didn’t like particular votes were probably in the wrong party.

The discussion surrounding the votes on establishing these committees including some interesting arguments from some of the older crowd. One gentleman scolded the PCOs for abandoning their proper abode, which was, in his mind, limited solely to helping Republican candidates get elected. Another suggested that the only proper time to bring up bad votes by Republicans was during a primary election. In general, I got the impression that the lessons from the past three years of empowering PCOs to lead the Republican party were completely lost on some of the older crowd, and that we will probably never see eye-to-eye with the folks who believe that PCOs should be seen during campaigns and not heard the rest of the time. It is small wonder that these folks only met once a year before 2013, and that most of them only show up now when an election is happening (or an establishment Republican might get censured).

One of the main moments of clarity in the meeting was provided by State Committeeman Christian Berrigan who gave a rousing speech about his experiences at the state Organization meeting in which he and others had attempted to change the state party bylaws to reflect a more grass-roots-centered approach. The speech had been preceded by one in which our state committeewoman had recounted instances in which Berrigan had been told by State Party Chairwoman Susan Hutchison to ‘sit down and shut-up’ during the interim between meetings, as well as Hutchison’s instructions to the county chairmen prior to Jaime Herrera’s speech demanding that all in attendance clap for Herrera, or risk being thrown out of the event. Of course, these tyrannical acts are pretty consistent with the press release she sent out regarding her opinions of the Clark County PCOs. More on Ms. Hutchison’s leadership in an upcoming post.

Berrigan also warned that organizations of liberal Republicans such as the Mainstream Republicans of Washington State have the CCRP in their crosshairs. Much like John McCain who raised $300,000 to replace party leadership in Arizona after they voted to censure him, Berrigan expects that money will soon be spent in Clark County PCO races in an attempt to reclaim the local party for the Chamber of Commerce progressives. Dissenting voices must not be allowed. While former party chairman and current Jaime Herrera employee Ryan Hart spent over $5000 in CCRP funds in 2008 to create the party in his own image, and he, Graham and Fuhriman did their best in 2014 to stack empty precincts with candidates (some willing and some not), introducing state organization money into local PCO races would set a new standard for Establishment stifling of the grass roots.

Meanwhile, we are here for at least two more years, with apologies to Crain’s petition efforts, and we will continue to work to make the voices of common, ordinary conservative Republicans heard. As we watch Republican leadership sell out their base again and again, the only road to reform is to stay involved and continue to apply pressure to local elected officials to keep their campaign promises. Last Saturday’s meeting was a step in that direction, and this writer looks forward to seeing what these new committees can accomplish in terms of informing and educating the larger body of PCOs.