- I am the Governor’s representative on the Republican State Committee. Next Saturday, the committee will meet in Aroostook County as part of the Potato Blossom Festival. This is an annual event and is usually a lightly attended meeting.
- Yesterday, I received a series of proposed by-laws amendments to be voted on at next week’s meeting. It is proposed that 6 members be added to the State Committee – representatives of any Republican Constitutional Officers and the Chairs of the State Party Budget, Convention, and Rules & Procedures Committee, positions which are appointed by the Party Chair. It is proposed that no legislator may be an officer of the State Committee. Finally, it is proposed that it be made more difficult to amend the by-laws in the future by requiring any change to be proposed by a petition signed by 10 committee members representing at least 4 counties and then, before any change could be voted on, the Rules and Procedures Committee – which is appointed by the Party Chairman -- would have at least 60 days to review any change before it could be voted on by the State Committee.
- These proposals are a naked power-grab by State Party Chairman Charlie Webster that one would expect from a Big City Democrat Ward Boss. Webster is unhappy with the change in the membership of the State Committee that came about at the State Convention. He is unsure that he can be re-elected given the committee’s current makeup, so he is putting forward his version of FDR’s court-packing scheme and proposes adding six members to the State Committee – including 3 that he would directly appoint.
- It is important to consider the proposed changes in the State Committee membership in the context of the Chairman's strong recommendation at the last State Committee meeting that the State Committee not meet again after July until after the November election. If the State Committee is not meeting again for months, why the rush to add new members? The answer is obvious: Webster thinks this will help him get re-elected in December.
- In addition to the committee stacking scheme, Webster proposes to reduce his potential challengers in future elections by banning state legislators from serving as officers of the committee. This exact same proposal was rejected by the State Committee in November of 2011. Why is it being proposed again now? I think it is no coincidence that a current legislator has been suggested by many as a possible replacement for Webster.
- The final proposal – making it more difficult to amend the by-laws in the future – is the most offensive. With only a week’s notice, major changes in the structure of the State Committee are proposed for consideration at what is likely to be a lightly attended State Committee meeting and, on top of that, it is proposed that the by-laws be amended to make it practically impossible to amend them again before Party Officers are elected in December. The arrogance and lust for power of the people behind this idea is stunning.
- The future of our State Party is truly at stake at next week’s meeting. The meeting will decide whether our State Committee is a body representative of Republicans who participate in our caucuses and convention or a self-perpetuating body controlled by one man. I urge all State Committee members to travel to the County to stop this power-grab and for all Republicans who are concerned about process and fair dealing to urge State Committee members to stop these proposals.
Dan Billings Facebook post - 7/14/12
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