Much longer than our usual posts, this guest commentary is being given space due to the relevancy of the issues presented here prior to our Republican Maricopa County and state statutory organizational meetings coming up later this month. We hope all elected precinct committeemen and state committeemen are alert to the slick attempts by AZ GOP Chair Robert Graham to deliver the party to the Republicrat syndicate led by McCain and Flake. Jim O’Connor is the conservative choice for state chairman. We’ve been in the wilderness long enough.
How many mail angels can dance on the head of the word “mail” in a statute involving giving notice of a meeting of a purely private political organization? An anonymous writer at Sonoran Alliance posted a silly article. It contains some choice SILLINESS.
But, before getting to that, I saw reported on the MCRC Briefs a nice summation of the “mail” issue in the context of the Solicitor General’s “informal opinion”
Attorney Ted Naeckel Responds To AG Opinion: I saw the “opinion” from Bronovich. He clearly acknowledges that his “opinion” is hasty and not well researched. The only authority for USPS mail that he sites only is in the rules of court and rules of civil procedure for serving documents another party and is inapplicable in terms of a call letter to PC’s because court procedure is a specialized circumstance and the sole purview of the courts. It has no binding application to “normal” areas of the law. The definitions section of the Arizona Revised Statutes does not define “mail” as being only Snail mail. Nor does Title 16, which deals expressly with the political structure set up by the state, define “mail.” Further, depending on the dictionary, I can find the term “mail” to include e-mail. Because the definition of “mail” is not established anywhere other than the court rules of civil procedure, e-mail is not precluded under title 16. With the new “e-filing” system, everything but the initial service of a complaint is done by e-mail now. And, the initial service can also be done by the agreement of the parties.Back to the silliness contained in the silly anonymous article at Sonoran Alliance:
“Just issued, a legal opinion by the Arizona Solicitor General office of the Arizona Attorney General, resolves a dispute regarding notification in Republican Party elections.”
“In the opinion posted by Attorney General Mark Brnovich, Solicitor General Draye
clarifies and establishes the correct definition of “by mail” . . . .”
“Given this official legal opinion, the Maricopa County Republican Party Bylaws are out of compliance with the law.”
“The Solicitor General’s opinion affirms AZGOP Chairman Robert Graham’s assertion was correct, that districts such as LD23 that improperly noticed their precinct committeemen by email, were in violation of party bylaws and state statute all along.”
“With the State Republican Party Meeting and Election rapidly approaching, there is not enough time now for a ‘do-over’ election leaving LD23’s illegally elected state committeemen potentially ineligible to vote.”
Um, no. These statements are all non sequiturs – inferences that do not follow from the premises. When a non sequitur is stated by someone who knows it is an inference that does not follow from the premises, then the non sequitur may be called something else: a lie.
Saying something that is not based on fact and untrue over and over and over does not make it so.
Who is this person who writes such unsupported assertions? He remains anonymous. Turnabout is fair play. So shall I.
“Resolves a dispute?” What dispute? Between whom? In what court of competent jurisdiction? Blank out.
“Illegally?” What are criminal penalties? Under what statute? And who has jurisdiction to rule on the “illegality” and impose criminal penalties? Blank out.
“The opinion issued by Dominic Draye to incoming Speaker of the House JD Mesnard, settles the legal question of whether or not precinct committeemen were properly noticed regarding the upcoming Maricopa County Republican Party election and ultimately the election of State Committeemen in LD23 including an announced candidate for State Party Chairman.” Again, a non sequitur. Or lie, depending upon the intention of the writer.
“Settles the legal question of whether or not [sic] . . . .” Really?
This is what an “advisory opinion” of the Arizona Attorney General constitutes:
From the 2016 archive page of the AG’s web site explaining what force and effect AG opinions have (and, mind, you this “informal opinion” that concludes “notice by email appears insufficient” is not signed by Brnovich, and has no signature by the alleged signatory, the Solicitor General, and is based on a single federal court decision interpreting a statute, an Arizona Rule of Civil Procedure in a completely different context involving legal rights of parties involved in litigation. The other analogies are based on, again, court rules involving legal rights in the context of protective orders, civil appellate rules, another rule of civil procedure, and a rule in the Code of Judicial Admin.; in the situation involving the notice of a meeting “by mail” by a political party, we are talking about how a private organization that can have no mandatory dues for precinct committeemen (because they are all elected volunteers and mandatory dues would potentially disenfranchise the voters in the precinct who elected the PC(s)) gives a notice of a private meeting of a private organization, a political party meeting, for which the PC is under no legal compulsion to attend:
The following opinions were issued from 1999 to the present time. The first two digits of each opinion indicate the year it was issued (I99 indicates it was issued in 1999), and the next three digits sequentially number the order in which the opinions were issued. For example, I99-003 would be the third opinion issued in 1999. The number in parentheses (R98-025) references the request for an opinion file number. Opinions of the Attorney General are advisory, and do not have the same effect as decisions of a court of law.
https://www.azag.gov/ag-opinions (Click on the link to the 2016 archived opinions if you do not see this at this link.)
NOTE THAT THE REAL QUESTION IS AVOIDED.
The real question is: If the notice requirement of A.R.S. Section 16-824 B. was not met (for whatever reason), and the elected precinct committeemen of a county committee nevertheless appear for their statutory organizational meeting, and are credentialed, who, if anyone, has the right to declare the meeting invalid?
Some party “leaders” stamp their feet and pronounce that a non-snail mail notice somehow makes the meeting invalid.
SAYS WHAT STATUTE? They can provide none. Because no statute says so.
Who has authority to determine the meeting to be invalid? No court or state chairman has any authority to prevent the members of the county committee from conducting their meeting. The meeting “belongs to” the members of the county committee, not to any law court’ and not to the political party’s state chairman.
The precinct committeemen who show up on January 14 to be credentialed can be credentialed whether they received an email notice, a snail mail notice, or no notice at all. Having received a snail mail or other notice is not a prerequisite for being credentialed. If a snail mail notice got “lost in the mail,” and the PC never received it, does that mean he can’t be credentialed? No. The PCs who show up on January 14 will be credentialed and conduct the meeting, as they see fit, as no statute gives any court or anyone else any power or jurisdiction to “intervene” and prevent the meeting of the private, voluntary organization from taking place.
As a wise man once wrote, the power to resolve any question any political party committee might need to resolve resides entirely with the members of the party committee itself. Political parties and their state, county, and legislative district committees are private associations of volunteer individuals. Giving government any role in determining rights in any private association, especially a political party, would be entirely inappropriate and likely unconstitutional. Political party committees, being wholly private, voluntary associations of volunteer members, have the right and power to adjudicate disputes over the affairs of the committees.
The precinct committeemen members of the political parties have no constitutional, civil, or statutory right to be a precinct committeeman – they can only become an elected precinct committeeman if enough of the registered voters of their political party in their precinct elect them (or, as in the overwhelming majority of cases, the number of candidates in their precinct is equal to or less than quota of slots for their precinct and they win by default). Likewise, elected precinct committeemen are not public officials – they have been elected by the voters in their respective precincts (or have won by default) to represent them in a purely private organization – a political party. No statute compels precinct committeemen to do anything; they cannot be compelled to participate at all in the meetings of their legislative district committee or their county committee unless they volunteer to do so. For example, the chairman of the state committee cannot order any other elected member of the party to do anything, as all members are volunteers.
Some people have trouble grasping these fundamental concepts and facts relating to our private political parties. None are difficult to learn and know. Perhaps the stumbling block is most never had Basic American Civics in middle school or have never taken the time to read and study the statutes relating to political parties and the bylaws of the state committee and county committee.
POLITICAL POWER FLOWS FROM THE VOTER TO THE PRECINCT COMMITTEEMEN ON “UP” TO THE STATE CHAIRMAN; THE STATE CHAIRMAN DOES NOT HAVE THE POWER TO CHOOSE THE ELECTORS
The political representation flows from the voters to the precinct committeemen (who directly elect their legislative district committee officers and county committee officers and state committeemen) and to the state committee, who represent the precinct committeemen and elect the state committee officers. We currently have a state chairman who appears to want to bluff his way into HIM electing the state committeemen electors.
Once the precinct committeemen are elected in Maricopa County, they come together at an organizational meeting to form the new county committee. A simple notice of the meeting needs to be sent out “by mail” by the county chairman, and the Maricopa County Republican Committee (“MCRC”) Bylaws define the undefined-in-the-statute word “mail” as email or postal service mail. Perfectly reasonable. From the Republican National Committee’s “autopsy” report which over and over recognized the need for the Republican Party to leverage digital technology to make its operations more efficient:
Campaigns and Elections magazine reported that an “active email list is a gift that keeps on giving.” We agree. Email continues to generate significant revenues and, importantly, can provide hard dollars in the fall when the major donors are maxed out. State parties and campaigns must invest in the data to continue to grow their working email lists and harvest them for fundraising and political benefit. It is worth noting that in 2012 email raised more than twice the percentage of total funds it raised in 2008.
Google it. So now we have a county chairman who wants to use email to more efficiently (in terms of money, in terms of time, and in terms of sweat equity) send out a simple notice about the date, time, and location of a meeting – which many, many legislative district chairmen welcomed along with many, many precinct committeemen, because of the savings in time and money, yet some adamantly pronounce: “If I don’t get my snail mail, the meeting is ‘invalid’ and ‘null and void!’” Or something.
Again, we are talking about the notice of a meeting at which the only business to be conducted is the election of five officers and any other possible business, such as amending of the county committee’s bylaws or resolutions proposed by the members. The procedures for accomplishing these things are covered in the MCRC bylaws.
The precinct committeemen wear another hat, that of member of the county committee. Later, by statute, they are to be given ten day notice by the chairman of that meeting. “By mail.” Which can be email. Per the statute and the bylaws. Again, we are talking about a mere notice of a meeting telling the precinct committeemen the date, the time, and the location of a meeting. That’s it.
What if, somehow, the ten-day notice is not given. Are there any penalties for anyone? No. Search the statutes – none will be found. Why? Because precinct committeemen and the officers they elect ARE NOT PUBLIC OFFICIALS. They are volunteers who happened to be elected first as precinct committeemen and then, perhaps, as a committee chairman or other officer. The courts have NO jurisdiction over the internal workings of the political parties because no civil or constitutional rights are involved. The organizational meetings are governed by statute only insofar as the windows of time for them are stated and the notice requirements are set forth. But, even if a deadline were to be blown, the meeting can still take place and late notice can be given – and if a precinct committeeman thinks otherwise, and decides not to attend, and complain about late notice, so be it. Because it would take a majority vote of all the PCs present to make that decision. And why would they invalidate their own meeting? So they could force themselves to come back some other Saturday and have the county committee, which runs on donations, not mandatory dues, spend money a second time for a second meeting?
Let’s see if that happens on January 14. And let’s see what happens on January 28.
The anonymous non sequitur-writer provides this legal advice for the state chairman and the readers:
“The legal remedy is for Chairman Graham to disregard the illegally called meeting results, seat an appointed contingent of committeemen from LD23, and hold the State Meeting according to statute and bylaw.”
BY WHAT AUTHORITY? UNDER WHAT STATUTE OR STATUTES? PER WHAT BYLAW OR BYLAWS?
Blank out. The reader is left to wonder. Perhaps no statutes or bylaws are stated, and no explanation of this “legal remedy” is given because none exist.
Precinct committeemen and only precinct committeemen in a precinct have the power to elect a captain. If they choose not to do so, the legislative district (“LD”) chairman is required by the MCRC Bylaws to appoint one. How many of the LD committee chairmen in Maricopa County have complied with the MCRC Bylaws to ensure the election of precinct captains at their organizational meetings, or, if the precinct committeeman have failed to elect a captain, have appointed one? As far as I know, zilch.
The county bylaws require the district chairs and all PCs to cooperate with the county chair and to help reach the goals of the county committee. Instead, some choose to be thorns in the sides of the volunteers who are trying their best to bring the county committee and its members, the PCs, from a pen, paper and phone world into a world of email and databases that has been used by every other type of organization for going on almost three decades. But it’s so much more fun demanding, “I want my snail mail letter, damn it. Because, ‘mail.’ Or something.”
Gee, it’s almost as if the state chairman and others DO NOT WANT precinct committeemen to use digital technology to communicate with one another. I recall our current state chairman promising when he ran for state chairman, and then ran for reelection for state chairman, to provide a digital tool to all of the state’s precinct committeemen so that every precinct committeeman in the state could communicate digitally with every other precinct committeeman to accomplish the goals of the Republican Party: to effectively and efficiently get out the vote for the best Republican candidates in the all-important, traditionally-very-low-turnout primary elections and then again in the general elections for the winners of the primary. Four years later? Still waiting.
The Democrats have been doing this with their Voter Activation Network software, which is the original, Democrat, version of rVotes, for about eight years. What software do we, as Republicans, have, provided by the RNC and the state party, that allows each precinct committeeman to communicate and organize GOTV efforts like this with their fellow precinct committeemen? Zilch.
The precinct committeemen in each legislative district nominate state committeemen, who are then deemed elected by the county chairman. ONLY the precinct committeemen can select these state committeemen. A legislative district committee organizational meeting at which the elected PCs in attendance, by majority, approve of the conduct of the meeting, cannot be undone or “invalidated” by a county chairman or a state chairman or anyone else. Despite what some huffing and puffing state committee or county committee “leader” might say.
The precinct committeemen elect their state committeemen, who in turn elect the state officers, including the state chairman. The state chairman has NO authority for picking and choosing which state committeemen were “properly” elected. ONLY the precinct committeemen may do that.
Some in our Party try to get away with, and often succeed in getting away with, a lot of I-am-making-up-the-rules-as-I-see-fit usurpations through bluff and bluster mostly because too many of the county chairmen and legislative district chairmen and precinct committeemen have failed to spend the time and expend the effort to learn and be fully aware of who can do what per the statutes and the bylaws, whether it’s the state bylaws or the county bylaws.
The funniest part of the anonymous author’s article arrives in the last paragraph, where he states:
“Party activists and officials must be aware of these important bylaws and statutes especially when they conduct the process of elections and seek higher leadership. Pushing a personal agenda by skirting the rules or making them up as you go is the not the upholding manner in which GOP leaders should conduct themselves.”
Was the writer deliberately stating such ironic hypocrisy?
TOO FUNNY. ;-)