Texas Republican Executive Committee Overturns Delegates

This weekend the State Republican Executive Committee (SREC) held their quarterly meeting in Austin. During this meeting the committee upheld a ruling of state party Chairman Tom Mechler, thanks to his tie-breaking vote.

The Ruling

His ruling was that the delegates to the state convention did not understand a rule change they passed, and therefore the SREC could simply ignore the written wishes of the convention.

Specifically, his ruling was that the wording the body passed that said:

  • “SREC Bylaws or Rules shall always be amendable by a majority of the entire membership, subject only to adopted notice requirements” somehow instead meant
  • “SREC Bylaws or Rules shall only be adopted by a majority of the entire membership at the organizational meeting which has no notice requirements”.

In other words, Chairman Mechler asked the SREC to agree that a majority of both the Convention Rules Committee and the convention delegates all voted to add an amendment that:

  • Said “always” when it meant “only once every two years”,
  • Got wrong the difference between amending an existing bylaw and adopting a bylaw for the first time,
  • Incorrectly assumed there was a notice requirement for bylaws decisions during an organizational meeting, and
  • Served no useful purpose at all since it only specified exactly what is already the default in Robert’s Rules of Order.

The Justification

The argument for that convoluted translation was that:

  1. The heading for that rule section is “Organizational Meeting of the State Republican Executive Committee”. Therefore, goes the argument, nothing in that rule section can have anything to do with any other meeting. That might be a good argument, except that the Texas Code Construction Act (Sec. 311.024. HEADINGS) says that “The heading of a title, subtitle, chapter, subchapter, or section does not limit or expand the meaning of a statute.” As shown above, most of the sentence has to be ignored or twisted – not only the obvious word “always” – to have the sentence make sense at all in reference to the Organizational Meeting, much less only in reference to it.
  2. The Rules Committee Chair, when presenting the amendment for vote, said, “The next amendment is in Rule 8C, on page 4 of your handout, which deals with the Agenda of the Organizational Meeting of the State Republican Executive Committee.” (Note: two sentences were added to 8C, and one of them did deal with the agenda, so that introduction was correct but incomplete.) Chairman Mechler said in his ruling that if no one objected to how the committee Chair described the proposed amendment, then the amendment should be construed to address only what was described, no matter how much you have to twist the amendment’s words to make that possible. At best this means that from now on someone must object to every single summarized rule change at every convention, or risk the SREC ignoring the written changes passed by the convention. At worst it means any state convention committee Chair can invalidate anything a committee has done that they don’t like by just failing to include specific mention of it in their brief summary.

Why This Matters

The important thing about this vote is not whether or not it’s a good idea for the SREC Bylaws to be amendable by a majority of the SREC body subject to notice requirements. It’s about whether the SREC recognizes that it only has whatever authority it is given by the delegates to the Republican Party of Texas Convention.

Sadly, a majority of the SREC thinks it is free to take whatever authority it wishes. Thankfully it is only the barest of majorities who thinks so. Hopefully with vigilance, further such actions will be kept to a minimum.

SREC Members Who Voted to Uphold the Convention Wording

SD 1 Sue Evenwel
SD 1 Dennis Cable
SD 2 Vicki Slaton
SD 3 Terry Holcomb
SD 6 Tammie Nielsen
SD 6 Chris McDonald
SD 7 Sarah Singleton
SD 7 Mark Ramsey
SD 8 Karl Voigtsberger
SD 9 Shelly Pritchard
SD 9 Steve Atwell
SD 10 Jeremy Blosser
SD 11 Tanya Robertson
SD 11 JT Edwards
SD 12 Debbie Terry [via proxy Mark Amick]
SD 12 David Halvorson
SD 13 Melanie Flowers [via proxy Dale Gibble]
SD 13 Dale Gibble
SD 14 Jan Duncan
SD 14 Fernando Trevino, Jr.
SD 15 Gail Stanart
SD 15 Vergel Cruz
SD 16 Virginia Prodan
SD 16 Randall Dunning
SD 18 Michael Cloud
SD 19 Terri DuBose
SD 19 Scott Stratton
SD 21 Naomi Narvaiz
SD 23 Stephen Broden
SD 24 Randan Steinhauser
SD 25 Mark Dorazio

SREC Members Who Voted to Overrule the Convention Wording

Chairman Tom Mechler
SD 2 Jason Ross
SD 3 Judy Parada
SD 4 Melinda Fredricks
SD 4 Will Robbins
SD 5 Nita Davidson
SD 5 Michael McCloskey
SD 8 Candy Noble
SD 10 Merri Easterly
SD 17 Tina Gibson
SD 17 Marvin Clede
SD 18 Edee Sinclair
SD 20 Janie Melendez
SD 20 Samuel Dalton
SD 21 Michael Goldman
SD 22 Denise DeLara [via proxy Linda Hill]
SD 22 Chuck Wilson [via proxy Janet Jackson]
SD 23 Marian Phillips
SD 24 Jack Barcroft [via proxy Skipper Wallace]
SD 25 Linda Kinney
SD 26 Marian Stanko
SD 26 Fred Rangel
SD 27 Sharon Batterson
SD 28 Jane Cansino
SD 28 Drew Bullard
SD 29 Lisa Sprinkle
SD 29 Mark Dunham
SD 30 Deon Starnes
SD 30 Paul Braswell
SD 31 Rhonda Lacy
SD 31 Tom Roller

The letter from 77% of the convention Rules Committee members asking the the SREC to not do this

The full text of the RPT Rules

Full list of SREC members

Note – when the roll call is taken proxies are not mentioned. I’ve attempted to correctly reflect all proxies in my listing above, but I will of course update the list as I’m made aware of any others.