Oregon Republican Party Must Conform to State Law
Chairman Alley Booted Off State Central Committee by Own Negligence
By Thomas K. Armstrong
Update (July 17, 8:11 p.m.): ORP legal counsel Tyler Smith comments on this story and admits negligence in his own “dismissal.” His comments and a full rebuttal are posted here: UPDATE: Oregon Republican Party Must Conform to State Law
SALEM, Ore. – Negligence by the Oregon Republican Party (ORP) Chairman Allen Alley has placed the ORP in a position where it must now conform its structure and some of its operations according to Oregon Revised Statutes (ORS). The ORP must conform or risk civil penalties by the Oregon Secretary of State. Chairman Alley and other party leadership are no longer members of the State Central Committee, the highest authoritative body in the ORP. Business of the ORP State Central Committee, including elections of National Committeeman Solomon Yue and National Committeewoman Donna Cain, is at risk of nullification for as far back as August 15, 2011. This comes just weeks after the ORP’s attempt to improperly adjourn Congressional District Conventions and appoint friends to alternate delegate positions already filled by those duly elected.
Alley has angered Republican precinct committee persons and electors from across Oregon due to his attempt to override the election of alternate delegates to the Republican National Convention at the Congressional District Conventions on June 23 and the appointment of his friends to alternate delegate positions. People involved in the selection of the delegates to the Republican National Convention have been investigating the laws and party rules. What they found may very well be the biggest mistake ever in the history of the Oregon Republican Party.
Chairman Alley and ORP leadership have been breaking the rules for so long that they probably didn’t even notice that they broke the biggest rule – not filing to prevent state statutes from governing the party. Alley and other party leadership just got themselves booted off the ORP State Central Committee – and they did it to themselves.
While investigating rules violations by the ORP, people responsible for electing delegates have uncovered legal documentation from the Oregon Secretary of State that clearly shows the ORP counsel, Tyler Smith, was late in his filing of notification to opt out of various Oregon laws by two weeks. (see attached documentation)
What happens next is unclear. However, there are interesting possibilities and significant consequences for the ORP. There is a risk of civil penalties, nullification of meetings and elections, and even the legality of the selection of the delegation to the RNC could be in question.
Failure to Opt Out of Oregon Statutes
The ORP’s past practice, as stated in ORP Bylaws, Article II, Section A (“Except as otherwise provided by these Bylaws, it is not the intent of the ORP State Central Committee to conform with ORS 248.012 to 248.316[sic], as amended.”), is to opt out of the provisions of ORS 248.012 to 248.315, which governs political parties.
According to ORS 248.007(5), in order to effectively opt out, a major political party must notify the Secretary of State in writing not later than 274 days before the primary election. The most recent primary was scheduled on May 15, 2012. That means the ORP must have notified the Secretary of State no later than August 15, 2011. Tyler Smith, ORP counsel, notified the Secretary of State of the ORP’s intent to opt out on August 29, 2011 – 14 days late. (See Smith’s e-mail exchange with the Secretary of State, attached.)
Like all election laws filings, the dates are critical. There are no provisions for second chances when filing dates are missed.
When the notice of opt out is not made in accordance with the statute, the party automatically becomes subject to the specified state laws. Statements in the party bylaws to the contrary are of no effect.
Whether through ineptitude or negligence, the ORP is now stuck with the structure and constraints imposed by the statutes for two years, until the next primary election in 2014.
What’s the significance of coming under the state statutes ORS 248.012 to 248.315? There are several and some have significant impact on the party at the county, state, and national levels.
At the county level:
- A county officer must be a PCP, something that may not be the case in various counties. (ORS 248.031)
- County chairs and vice chairs are not automatic delegates to the ORP State Central Committee, leaving 72 openings. (ORS 248.075(1))
At the state level:
- In conforming to the state laws, new delegates will form the new body of the state central committee, forcing them to elect a new chair. (ORS 248.085, Subsection 2)
- A whole list of extra members provided by the bylaws, including the state officers, such as the chair, the Congressional District Chairs, and the National Committee members, are no longer on the ORP State Central Committee. (ORS 248.075(1))
- The state statutes prohibit proxies to the ORP State Central Committee meetings. (ORS 248.075(1))
At the national level:
- The selection of delegates to the Republican National Convention in Tampa in August must now comply with state law. (ORS 248.315)
Since state law trumps party rules when there is a conflict, it’s possible that the entire Oregon delegation to the Republican National Convention, which has been the subject of intensive rule-breaking by the Alley regime, may now end up in court subject to the state law.
When Must ORP Conform?
This may be a case of first impression in Oregon, so what the ORP must do and when it must do it is somewhat open to interpretation.
So when did the ORP come under the jurisdiction of the Secretary of State?
One interpretation is that it occurred 274 days prior to the primary, August 15th, 2011. If the 2011 date is the date of compliance, all business conducted at ORP State Conventions could be deemed invalid, nullifying the February 4th, 2012 elections of the ORP National Committeeman and Committeewoman, Solomon Yue and Donna Cain, respectively.
Another interpretation is that the ORP must conform to the state law within a reasonable time after the state primary at which a whole new cadre of precinct committee persons was elected.
Mr. Alley has been derelict in his duty to conform the party to the state statutes. Perhaps, he should forgo his trip to Tampa to get things in order here at home.
What Are the Consequences?
Any elector in Oregon, may file complaints for violations of Oregon election laws with the Secretary of State. (ORS 260.345) Being subject to state law makes the ORP subject to civil fines for violations of the statutes. (ORS 260.995) While the fines themselves are modest, the number of violations and the number of people involved in the violations, especially in connection with the Congressional District Conventions and the aftermath, are numerous and ongoing.
ORP Congressional District (CD) Conventions were held June 23, 2012 and elected delegates, alternate delegates, presidential electors, and district officers.
CD Conventions held June 23 were met with several hours of delays after voting for delegates to the Republican National Convention and presidential electors to the Electoral College. After more than two hours of delays, CD Chairmen at each convention simultaneously stated the meetings could not proceed later than 5 p.m. and announced, without a motion from the floor, that the conventions were to be immediately adjourned by order of ORP Chairman Alley.
A strong majority of attendees at Congressional District Conventions 2, 3, 4 and 5 objected, voted to continue their business — some in the absence of their CD Chairman and ORP officials — and concluded elections for alternate delegates to the Republican National Convention. PCPs who stayed past 5 p.m. included supporters of Mitt Romney, Ron Paul, Rick Santorum, and Newt Gingrich.
“There was an organized effort by ORP leadership to impede the proceedings of the conventions and stall for as long as possible,” said Kevin Renfrow, PCP and duly elected alternate delegate. “They were blaming our delays [in CD-5] on CD-4,” said Diana Hengerer, PCP from CD-5. “In CD-3 they blamed CD-5 and in CD-1 they blamed CD-3.”
“It’s clear Alley and ORP leadership are not happy with the delegation election results,” said Tom Armstrong, PCP and House District Captain. “They wanted their family, friends, and ‘good old boys’ seated on the delegation and they’re willing to break every rule and bylaw to make that happen.” Armstrong’s outrage is shared by those whose vote was unduly dismissed and whose voting rights were violated.
On June 30, 2012, Allen Alley called a meeting of the ORP Executive Committee (a subservient committee of the ORP State Central Committee) and illegitimately appointed friends and family – some without even filing for the office – to the alternate delegate position which were filled by duly elected alternate delegates. The duly elected alternate delegates received a conciliatory letter from ORP Chairman Allen Alley on their “unsuccessful” election.
The business of the ORP Executive Committee meeting held June 30, 2012 is invalidated by operation of law in accordance with ORP Bylaws, Article IV, Section E for failure to give the required 30 day written notice. A resolution signed by approximately 100 Oregon precinct committee persons (the highest authorities in the Oregon Republican Party) was delivered personally to Allen Alley on July 14, 2012 prior to a meeting of the illegitimate delegation.
- Oregon Revised Statutes, Chapter 248 — Political Parties; Presidential Electors: http://www.leg.state.or.us/ors/248.html
- Notification letter to Oregon Secretary of State of ORP’s intent to opt out of ORS 248.012 to 248.315 per ORS 248.007: http://www.ordelegates2012.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/ORP-notification-248.007.pdf
- ORP Bylaws, adopted Feb 4, 2012: http://www.oregonrepublicanparty.org/sites/default/files/ORP_Bylaws-Adopted_Feb_4_2012.pdf
- ORP Standing Rules, adopted Feb 4, 2012: http://www.oregonrepublicanparty.org/sites/default/files/ORP_Standing_Rules-Amended_2-4-2012.pdf
- RNC Rules for 2012, adopted 2008: http://www.gop.com/images/legal/2008_RULES_Adopted.pdf
Thomas K. Armstrong is an Oregon Republican precinct committee person and House District Captain 45.