Last Saturday, the California Republican Assembly put on a display of incongruity so amazing, I’m struggling with how to describe the hypocrisy and irony that made the meeting such a disaster.
The train wreck of expediency over principle concerns the Conservative Republicans of California group founded by Karen England, Steve Frank and others ejected from CRA. Please understand that CRC is basically a paper organization with fewer than five active chapters in a state of almost 40 million residents. Think of the United States versus Granada in a military conflict. (Oh we did that once already.) How a group with no members in the room can cause such an irrational and emotional response in a CRA Board meeting was amazing to witness.
The first place CRC raised its hydra like head was when Aaron Park made a motion to unilaterally forgive Mark Pruner and another political operative—Mark Spannagel—from the remainder of their five and ten year banishments from CRA. Aaron’s reason was to get in good with some elected officials like Doug Lamalfa. It was argued that this unilateral act of charity would be a way of putting the unpleasantness of the mass membership purge of 2011 behind CRA and show that the group—under the leadership of John Briscoe—is interested in looking forward. It was admitted during debate that neither Pruner nor Spannagel had asked for forgiveness of past misdeeds or expressed any interest to again be involved with CRA. When the motion came to a vote, it failed by a wide margin.
Then CRC was brought up again under the report presented by Carl Brickey. It seems the Santa Clarita RA had a bylaw amendment that needed Board approval. Below is the text of their revision of membership.
Section 2. Qualifications. Regular membership of the Assembly shall be limited to those American citizens of good moral character who: 1) are registered to vote as members of the Republican Party; 2) are otherwise eligible to be CRA members, 3) do not belong to another CRA unit and 4) do not belong to the organization currently known as the Conservative Republicans of California at a state or local level.
(Bold items are changes to existing language)
When Brickey presented this item of the report, not a single person in the room asked why the committee recommendation was four to one to approve and not unanimous like all the other items before his committee.
I got up and said that both CRA and CRC are chartered by the California Republican Party and thus we have no right to tell another equally chartered group they were not welcomed in CRA. I said this is wrong and we literally have no right to approve a bylaw that is contrary to our charter. How we feel about CRC is not this issue. In effect, I argued principle—as I always do.
Others—including the Park brothers—saw no problem with this bylaw change. These are the same guys that 45 minutes before we arguing for forgiveness of Pruner and Spannagel in order to put the past behind us and now they are OK with banning CRC members? Others of the CRA brain trust said that this was a local issue and if that’s what this local chapter wants then they are OK with this amendment because the CRA Statewide Board is not making this the policy of CRA as a whole. OK so why was the Statewide Board voting on this then? The amendment was approved with three NO votes including mine.
This raises so many questions.
• First, the fact that this came before the Board means that the Statewide CRA organization has made it the policy that any chapter can reject members based on other affiliations that members may have. These words come to mind, “Have you now or ever been in the past a communist?”
• Second, CRA has no access or right to access CRC membership lists so how do they know who is a member of that group? Ironically, CRC is based on the very same principals as CRA just different leadership.
• Third, under the current Bylaws of CRA, this rule does not affect current CRA members, only those wishing to join in the future. Thus, this sell-out of principle—if applied in accordance with the rest of the CRA Bylaws—will do nothing to help eject the eight members in Santa Clarita that are a thorn in their side. Santa Clarita has over 150 members and can’t abide a few angry folks?
• Fourth, any members of Santa Clarita that are ejected have the right under the Statewide Bylaws to appeal the decision to the State Board.
Later in the meeting, Aaron Park made a pitch that CRA should consider Director’s and Officer’s Liability Insurance. This was just the cherry on top. Park votes to create a litigious situation for the CRA Board and then offers to sell them insurance in case anybody takes them to court for acting stupidly.
CRA deserved to be sued in 2011 and they deserve it today for this stupid and ill-advised vote.
OH, and just to prove they really did open Pandora’s Box, by Monday, CRA leadership had been contacted by several other chapters wanting exclusionary language added to their Bylaws to trim the unwanted from their ranks.
Way to grow CRA… sorry fellows but I expected more.