The Constitution and Bylaws of the Republican Party of Iowa are a mess. Robert’s Rules of Order Newly Revised 11th Edition suggests that organization do away with separate constitutions and bylaws and adopt one set of rules called Bylaws. The bylaws should be difficult to amend requiring a super-majority for modification. The current structure makes that Constitution difficult to modify — it can only be amended at a State GOP Convention. While the bylaws are easy to modify, the State Central Committee can (and does) amend them without consulting or in many cases even officially notifying the District Executive Committees or County parties.
The current SCC and RPI Chair Kaufmann have found an extra-constitutional way to circumvent even the minimal checks and balances provided for in RPI’s bylaws. Kaufmann hand-picked the Vision RPI Committee to avoid having to work with the SCC Organization Committee, even though the Organization Committee is specifically charged with handling bylaws changes. I guess after serving on the SCC with multiple chairmen for more than a decade I should not be surprised.
Forgive me for burying the lead but in the January meeting, the State Central Committee (following the recommendation of the Vision RPI Committee) created the Appeals Committee — a Kangaroo Court for RPI!
Appeals Committee, a standing committee which shall consider disputes that arise regarding any matter over which the State Central Committee has interest or authority. If a member of a County Central Committee, District Executive Committee or State Central Committee refers a dispute to a member of the Appeals Committee, the Appeals Committee shall consider the matter and report a recommendation to the State Central Committee for consideration at its next regular meeting or at a special meeting convened for the purpose of considering the matter under consideration by the Appeals Committee. The Appeals Committee will have at least three members appointed from among the members of the State Central Committee by the State Chair.RPI Bylaws Article II, §5
The SCC has made itself judge and jury for disputes arising within the state party. And the chairman gets to appoint the Appeals Committee which acts as a grand jury before bringing matters to the SCC. The phrase over which the State Central Committee has interest or authority seems all-inclusive to me. I am having trouble imagining a dispute within the party that would not be covered by this phrase.
In my years in the Iowa GOP, I have seen disputes over how counties spend money, who gets to serve on committees, removing members from county parties, RPI/CC interference in county business, who gets to establish the District Executive Committees, and more. While this amendment seems to give the SCC and the chairman (through his hand-selected Appeals Committee) tremendous power, I am not sure it really does. The bylaw says:
… the Appeals Committee shall consider the matter and report a recommendation to the State Central Committee for consideration …
It does not actually claim that the SCC or RPI has the power to resolve these issues, only to consider them. Nowhere in the bylaws can the SCC order a member of a DEC or County Central Committee to do anything. So maybe my concerns are unwarranted. This amendment is really not a power grab at all … it is simply a waste of time and effort.
On the other hand, maybe I shouldn’t have said anything. The Vision RPI Committee might push through another bylaws amendment (without consulting or notifying the districts or counties) to define (i.e. steal, take, supplant, …) even more power for themselves.