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RNC to Hold Final Vote this Week on Controversial Rule Changes

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The Republican National Committee will meet in DC this week to hold what is likely to be the final vote on amending the rules governing the 2016 election process, a subject that has been at the forefront of debate at each RNC meeting over the past year.

The RNC Rules Subcommittee, a 17-member group which was formed at the August meeting of the RNC and has met twice since, drafted the packet of amendments which will be presented to the RNC Standing Committee on Rules on Thursday. If passed by the rules committee, the packet will then be presented to the entire body of the RNC for a final vote during Friday’s general session meeting.

In a letter sent to RNC members requesting support for the subcommittee’s proposal, RNC Special Counsel member James Bopp describes the impact of the changes. Bopp states that the three amendments will enact strict and clear penalties upon state parties that violate election-timing guidelines, ensure the proportional binding of delegates for states whose process is held during the first two weeks in March, and extend the delegate certification period from 35 days to 45 days prior to the convention. The third change is meant to act in conjunction with an earlier National Convention schedule in order to reduce the overall length of time for the presidential primary period.

“We believe the rules changes recommended by the rules subcommittee are a major victory for conservative and grassroots Republicans,” says Bopp. “These changes will help us nominate a stronger candidate who reflects the views of our base and who will have a better chance of winning in November.”

(Photo by Mike Wallace) Guests of subcommittee members finish their lunch  in the hallway after being asked to leave the room in  which RNC rule amendments are discussed.

(Photo by Mike Wallace)
Guests of subcommittee members finish their lunch in the hallway after being asked to leave the room in which RNC rule amendments are discussed. 

The proposals were unanimously approved by the subcommittee in meetings which are described as “open and transparent,” though depictions from observers in attendance have not indicated the same. At the December meeting of the subcommittee, guests of members were asked to wait in the hallway outside of the meeting room while aspects of the rules were discussed.

The rules governing the primary election process have been the subject of national controversy ever since the 2012 Republican National Convention, in which a vote on rule amendments was met with loud opposition from RNC delegates. Over the course of the past year, activists have continued to oppose attempts within the RNC to incrementally implement further changes.

During the last RNC meeting, held in Boston, MA, proxy Bryan Daugherty introduced a proposal to rebuke the rules in their current form and revert to a previous set of rules. Daugherty also spoke in opposition to the formation of the subcommittee, stating that members were not given enough notice in advance of the vote and should refrain from making a decision on the formation until more time was given for consideration. “The smaller group will only further consolidate decision making by removing the grassroots and their representatives from the process as well as increase the distrust that already surrounds the amending process,” predicted Daugherty.

Former RNC Committeeman Mark Willis, who resigned after what he described as power-grabs taking place at the last meeting of the RNC.

Former RNC Committeeman Mark Willis, who resigned after what he described as power-grabs taking place at the last meeting of the RNC. 

Both efforts were disregarded, a move which Committeeman Mark Willis of Maine says was the final straw for him. Willis resigned his RNC position upon the close of the Boston meeting, indicating that he felt there would be no further opportunities to rescind the RNC rule changes. “The RNC rules, as they stand, were written by and for the favorite team,” stated Willis in his resignation letter. “To continue on in my position as National Committeeman of the Maine Republican Party would lend credibility and legitimacy to these invalid rules.”

Morton Blackwell, a long-standing member of the RNC Rules Committee, has released a letter to RNC Chairman Reince Priebus expressing opposition to the subcommittee proposal. In the letter, Blackwell describes the Romney 2012 campaign as having been responsible for many of the egregious Tampa rule changes, and concludes that the party should work to reverse the amendments rather than further them, stating, “The unmistakable message to non-Romney delegates was: “We won. You lost. To Hell with you.” Our national party rules should be amended to make sure that this arrogant, hideous practice is not repeated.”

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