CRA Smackdown 2015

Recently re-elected CRA President, John Briscoe, has failed to act on many items and issues within his organization and within the Republican Party at large. At a time when action has been requested by many in his organization, Briscoe failed to respond to multiple emails, texts, and phone calls.

Following the last convention, Briscoe failed to make the customary committee appointments necessary to keep the group operating. One area in particular that he failed to act was the appointment of a Charter Review Committee. As a result, all statewide chartering business has fallen on Membership Secretary, George Park.  George, unfortunately, has gone all Peggy Mew on the organization. He has been withholding membership lists and information from other Board members and committees, handling financial transactions without involving the Treasurer, and he has not been willing to be open and accountable to the Board.

President Briscoe had originally planned a meeting for May 30th and gotten the approval of at least seven of the ten area Vice-Presidents. (Unfortunately, the areas VPs don’t have areas because Briscoe failed to assign them at the last Board meeting.) Briscoe then decided to cancel the meeting; well he sort of cancelled it. He forgot to tell the Santa Barbra RA that he cancelled it, after they already reserved a room and made other arrangements. Briscoe made it perfectly clear that he did not want to deal with the problems in the organization, many of which he created or made worse.

Also, of concern to many in CRA is the state Party Platform. Briscoe has done nothing to try to get people elected to the Party’s Platform Committee. The election is happening right now. After the Log Cabin fiasco at the last CRP Convention, Briscoe’s judgment in supporting Jim Brulte as CRP Chair is suspect. By the way, Brulte has a secretive meeting scheduled for Saturday with leaders of the various CRP volunteer organizations concerning the Party Platform. The sense that I and others have is that this meeting is to tell these groups that the Platform as we have known it for the last few decades is gone. We expect Brulte to strong-arm Briscoe and others into either outright support or at least neutrality on the new Platform—which theoretically has not even been drafted yet. Think of this as the victors dictating terms of surrender to the losing side. I expect that Brulte will push Briscoe to put a happy face on this betrayal of conservative values in the name of Party unity.

As a result of these things and others, members of the Board have exercised their right to call a meeting for the same date and time as the meeting that Briscoe has once planned. The Bylaws require 25% of the Board to call such a meeting. About 40% of the 60 Board members signed their names to the document calling for the meeting. Others on the Board are supportive but did not sign the document. Actually, support for this meeting is about half of the Board.

One thing you need to understand about Briscoe is that he is a CPA. Despite what you see on TV and movies, CPAs are, by profession, very risk averse. They don’t take chances and don’t like confrontation. George and Aaron Park have had his back since he decided to run for CRA President. As a result, Briscoe listens to their advice and typically does as they suggest. Unfortunately, the Park boys have done things that they shouldn’t and Briscoe has failed to rein them in.

After getting the meeting notice yesterday, Briscoe met with his small pool of supporters and decided to counter with a July 25th meeting. He called for an online vote for this alternative meeting date. This call was countered with an immediate reply from the other faction asking members to vote NO to Briscoe’s proposal.

The Bylaws don’t really allow for this to be an alternative meeting. The May 30th meeting will happen regardless of whether the July 25th meeting happens. This is in fact a proxy vote to measure Briscoe’s support within the Board. Clearly Aaron and George gave Briscoe bad advice because the faction that called the May meeting is now talking that perhaps Briscoe can’t be saved and maybe CRA needs a new President.

The original plan was that the Parks would be asked to resign from the Board; but more mercy would be shown to them than they showed to others by not expelling them from CRA. That too may be open to re-examination.  The Park boys have used divide and conquer as an effective strategy in the past but their playbook may not work this time.

The other strategy employed by the Parks that is already backfiring is that they are going to the CRP leadership to try to apply pressure to CRA members. In the past, the CRP would stay out of such internal conflicts but the Parks have burned too many bridges within the CRA. They lack the allies within CRA to fight this battle.

The move to force Briscoe to do his job is underway. The implications for CRA are enormous; many scenarios seem to foreshadow the dissolution of the group. Is this the final circular firing squad or an opportunity for renewal?