Off the Rails at the CRA Board Meeting

Yesterday I attended a Board meeting of the California Republican Assembly. I’ve attended a lot of meeting for various organizations and this one was noteworthy for what was done incorrectly.

The highlights or takeaways or whatever metaphor fits the best were related to endorsements for candidates running for positions on the Board of the California Republican Party—the election for these positions will be during their spring convention.

I walked in the door just as Jim Brulte was being introduced. Brulte is the only announced candidate that has stepped forward to run for chairman of the California GOP. Brulte spoke for about five minutes and then fielded a few questions. Brulte did take two questions from me.

My first question was an attempt to get Brulte to promise that in the future, the CRP should not expend their limited funds in general election races where both candidates were Republicans. Please spend money fighting against Democrats. He did seems to agree that would be a better use of our resources.

My second question was concerning CRP candidate endorsements. I was trying to get Brulte to have the CRP adopt a primary system that did not vest all power in Central Committees and the State Board but allowed input from rank and file Republicans. Brulte had no interest in dealing with this issue. The current system was supposed to be only for the 2012 election cycle but no permanent solution has been proposed yet. I think it likely that the current system is here to stay. It is a top down model and works well in an authoritarian/elitist system. As long as this system is in place then the Republicans have no claim to being a “grassroots” Party.

Immediately following his remarks, the chair entertained a motion to endorse Brulte. She called for yea votes, then said “all opposed step outside” and the asked for any abstentions. I wanted to vote “no” based on the brush-off to my second question but I was not allowed to do so. Shortly after this vote, the Secretary called the role for purposes or establishing a quorum.

When a Chairman cannot follow Robert’s Rules of Order I loose respect for them. The rest of the body didn’t want the Chair to look dumber by pointing out that their endorsement vote was illegal and therefore void under both CRA’s Bylaws and Robert’s Rules.
• Quorum was not established prior to conducting business
• No one was allowed to speak in opposition to the nomination which was the case in all other endorsement votes held yesterday

As is often the practice of the Parliamentarian, he was silent on this snafu.

The Agenda for the meeting was poorly done. The main purpose of the Board Meeting was supposed to be to discuss endorsing candidates for the CRP Board and this was not even on the Agenda! The layout was not done as multi-level outline but resembled a grocery list.

My other gripe is much more delicate to discuss. A candidate for another office appeared at the Board Meeting seeking endorsement for his run for a CRP office. Except for Brulte, all other candidates were asked to leave the room. Once this other candidate left the room, the meeting took a trip into the Twilight Zone or some other infrequently charted waters.

An individual got up in front of the group and then stated that he had been sober for ten years and had not been arrested in 17 years but he said that the candidate that we had just heard could make no such claim. Wow!

Then a second person got up and began to talk about the candidate. His attempt to speak was curtailed by the chair. He was frustrated that he was unable to unload on the character of this individual and his conduct during the most recent election cycle. The person complaining was promised that he would be able to bring this up under new business. When he again tried under new business he was shut down by the chair. Clearly this candidate has hit a raw nerve in the minds of several that claimed to know him.

The endorsement was tabled in the remote hope that someone more palatable would be found at a future date.

This incident was one of those where the political response diverged from the biblical one.

The character assassination card was played against this person. He had no opportunity to respond to the accusations since he was not allowed in the room. No evidence was presented that the accusations were true and his reputation was hurt. Lastly the person could have been blocked from getting the endorsement without the tactics that were utilized.

I sensed that there was likely a basis in fact for the accusations but it was equally clear that the endorsement could be blocked without resorting to their use. Disclosure in this way was a punitive act.

The Christian response would be to pray for the person and if he claimed to be a believer then go to him in order that he might repent. Putting someone out of the church is a different issue from blocking a political endorsement. I think some well-meaning folks went too far.

I think my conclusion that we are not yet ready to lead is still true. We need a new paradigm before those in the church are ready to lead in the political world. We need to have a political worldview that is an extension of our faith not a contradiction of it.