What's Going Wrong with AZGOP? Part 1: Armageddon Over Conservative Motions at ExComm

This is the first in a series of articles reporting what I witnessed at the June 2017 meeting of the AZGOP Executive Committee. It was held in Flagstaff Saturday, June 17th. I've never personally witnessed a more revealing episode in the life of the AZGOP. More and more clearly, we can now understand what is going wrong with our state party. 

Purple hearts are in order for Rose Sperry, of Yavapai, and Steve Slaton, of Navajo County. Each of them made substantive motions at 2017’s second quarterly AZGOP Executive Committee meeting, held in Flagstaff this Saturday, June 17, 2017. Armageddon ensued!

Rose Sperry, who I believe is secretary for Yavapai County, moved that Bylaws Chairman Kathy Petsas give members of the Bylaws committee each other’s contact information, so they can discuss bylaws changes between quarterly meetings.

Her motion was quickly labeled “out of order” by the acting chairman, Al Gage, a professional parliamentarian, who explained that no one can give out an email or phone—even within a single committee—without permission of the person. No one bothered to mention that bylaws committee members have been begging to be able to communicate amongst themselves, but the chairman won’t allow it--hence Rose's motion! Russell Sias, who is on the bylaws committee, has been posting on Briefs for months about this problem.

As an observer, I couldn’t help wondering how a parliamentarian would be so well versed in rules or laws about the disclosure of AZGOP emails and phone numbers, within a single committee, that he could instantly call that motion out of order, without needing to ask someone. 

Steve Slaton, chairman of Navajo County, moved that the Executive Committee order Chairman Lines to finally, after five whole months of refusing, turn over to Secretary Gabby Mercer all of the documents that pertain to her duties as secretary. So far, all she’s been able to do is keep the minutes and sign letters. Gabby has asked for the records many times, and I believe she also went twice to see the chairman, with witnesses in tow, to demand that she be given the party’s permanent records, which the bylaws stipulate she is responsible for keeping. In all cases, she has been refused.

After Steve’s motion, Armageddon ensued, which included what sounded to me like quite agitated shouting by Kim Owens, yesterday’s acting secretary, saying, “This is nothing but a witch hunt!.” It wasn’t the only thing she said that I thought was over the top. When Karen MacKean (Navajo County 1st vice chair) approached gently and calmly, to assure Kim that it really wasn’t a witch hunt, she very lightly touched Kim’s forearm as a reassuring gesture, whereupon Owens—shouting, in my opinion—said, “Don’t touch me! Get your hands off me! You are intimidating me!” Then she turned to a man standing to her right and added, “Tell her not to touch me! She is intimidating me!”

This was just one part of a generalized visceral reaction in the room. What’s oddest about it is that these motions were perfectly justifiable. It seemed to me that widely forgotten was the reason the leadership meets with the executive committee four times a year! It's because the Executive Committee has authority OVER the leadership, not the other way around, and it must exercise it regularly. In fact, the executive committee actually exists to represent the whole membership of the state committee, so it can maintain oversight over leadership's activities in the long periods between our mass meetings each January.

Parliamentary procedure required that Steve’s motion come to a vote, because it was seconded, as was Rose’s, by the indomitable Jennifer Jones, 1st chair of La Paz County, a fulsome defender of conservative values. In the discussion prior to voting, I was amazed at the number of reasons—reasons I considered specious, at best—why the chairman doesn’t have to give Gabby the records, as the bylaws stipulate. One is moved to ask why it is so very important NOT to give the secretary her permanent records!

In essence, Chairman Lines remains in breach of the Bylaws five and a half months AFTER he and the secretary were elected! And yet the executive committee votes down a motion to provide her what she needs to do her job. What gives?

During the discussion of Steve’s motion, Kim Owens read aloud the duties of the secretary, as written in the bylaws. When she got to the inconvenient part, where it says that the secretary is the keeper of the “permanent records” of the party, it was my perception that she felt the need, hastily, to add, “And that phrase, “permanent records: In the bylaws that means the MINUTES! ONLY THE MINUTES!”

I beg to differ, however. Permanent records includes, for example, the lists of all pcs and state committeemen, their addresses, phones, emails, etc. but lots more important information, as well. Gabby is the keeper of those lists, and needs them to send out calls to meetings. Apparently, though, hired employees have been doing mailings for the last five months, not Gabby. Why is the secretary being limited to taking minutes and signing a few letters, when the bylaws list other duties in her job description? Why would the leadership insist on continuing in breach of the bylaws, regarding the secretary’s permanent records? What could the reason--or motive--be? Who gains?

Yet another person who claimed that Steve’s motion was out of order, said it was because it failed to list the specific documents that were missing. I must say, I see that as specious reasoning, because AZGOP secretaries have traditionally always kept the same group of documents. I don’t personally know what they all are, but I am certain the AZGOP must know it. So why is someone trying to make it Steve’s responsibility to name specific documents? In my opinion, it’s an attempt to obfuscate and confuse someone who is seen as the “opposition.” Does this sound like a political party doing normal business? What does it sound like to you?

Here’s one more to-me incredible utterance--my favorite of the day. Among the ardent responders was Matthew Kenney, recently hired executive director, whose voice expressed complete mystification, in my view, at this outlandish motion. His voice went way up high, as he said, that he had just met with Gabby on Tuesday! Everything was fine! And “Gabby never asked for any documents” or said documents were missing, therefore “the motion is disqualified. It’s out of order.” I must say that these so oft-repeated terms, “out of order” and “disqualified,” put me in mind of something else we hear far too often on the national political scene--terms like “racist” and “fascist” that the Left uses against conservatives who stand up against unchecked immigration and etc.

Everything conservatives want—especially if they ask for it, and most particularly when they demand it--is out of order, it seems.

But the vehemence that I found so visible on June 17th did shock me with its stridency. Those who “won” the vote let out a shrill and joyful shout of triumph, when they realized they had vanquished the unwashed interlopers and witch hunters among them. The sound of it, the intensity of the satisfaction they seemed to take from having prevented two conservatives from exerting any influence whatsoever on the affairs of the AZGOP executive committee, said volumes to me.

It said that there is something more than just a difference of opinion, here. There seems to me to be the desire to vanquish, to control, to render conservatives ineffectual to the point of enforced nonparticipation. That is more than a difference of opinion. And there is an aggressiveness about it that alarmingly exceeds the occasion. Something is very deeply wrong within our state party, the same thing that is wrong in our national political institutions.

Coming soon -- Part 2: Why all the problems with the Bylaws Committee? Why all the secrecy? What are these changes they want to make? 

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Replies to This Discussion

This is, in my opinion, the direct result of the major flaw in our bylaws that allow unlimited proxies. Until that one ugly fact is corrected, we will not have a fair and balanced process.  I made the huge mistake of not addressing this during my term as chairman and it is a regret that haunts me to this day.  The ruling class in our party forced my attention toward survival, rather than doing more important things like addressing the bylaws. Their constant assaults, because I was of the Grassroots and not one of them, forced my eye away from the bylaws.  They are in control and that has been made so because of, yes, the bylaws which allow unlimited proxy carrying.  Or, as has been the case, how to turn one vote into thirty-six with a snap of the finger.  I strongly urge all conservatives to recruit at least one conservative PC (that's all it will take) and then use this same insidious method to take control of the party once again. Only this time, keep it, and change the bylaws. 

You are 100% correct. I think it could be limited to 1 or 2 Proxies at a maximum. Those who are simply "Proxie PCs" should be removed until they can attend and be involved. I think you and a few others have the experience to guide us in how to straighten this mess out. It will take time, blood, sweat and tears to get this done. Thanks for you years of good service and leadership, but please help us to take this away from the insurgents.

John, I stand ready to do whatever it takes to drain the swamp.  The necessary ingredients to make that so are tenacious activity and constant pressure, brought by the Grassroots to make way for the change (that I believe will come). It's time we rise up, organize and act.  We did it before, not too long ago and we can do it again, if we band together and stay the course.   

There is a Petition being circulated to end the Proxies for AZGOP.  Email us at team-azfreedomalliance2@hushmail.com and we will forward to the contact person.

What has gone wrong is that insurgents have control of the leadership in the party and they  have no scruples. The kind of sabotage that is going on is the same as I saw years ago in California. Big surprise? Graham and his bunch came from that school. The Republican Party there is mostly a lap dog for the Democrats. They made an agreement years ago that amounts to a noncompete pact. Republicans don't challenge Dems in a Democrat district and the few Republican districts are not challenged by the Democrat party. That doesn't mean there are no opposites in elections, they are simply not supported in any meaningful way by party money or efforts.

In one particularly egregious case I am aware of the Orange County Republican Chair and some of his henchmen met with the Democrats and offered to spend party money to defeat a conservative Republican woman who they didn't like and who was a City Council member in a small town in Orange County. A friend of mine who had infiltrated the Democrat Party was at the meeting. He was afraid to tell the story publicly for fear of retribution by either of the parties involved. This is what we have here just in a little earlier stage of life. We better get a handle on these situations or it will become an extension of the California Republican Party.

The Cancer of the John McCain bloodlines has metastasized to the bones of the Party. I Love my country, but I fear my government.

We have already become like California here in Yuma. The local GOP supported a Dem candidate last election, openly. Very sad.

Seems as if the "leadership" has been infiltrated!  So what legal steps can be taken?

It is going to take some thought and the experience from some of the people who have been in the AZGOP leadership for a while and who have the guts to stick out a nasty long term battle. It needs to be setup to run in such a way that the insurgents can't get into control to the point that we can't see what is going on behind a curtain they put up for the purpose of secret operation of the Party and finances.

The people running AZGOP come under the heading of OUTLAWS.  Like government at all levels they think THEY are at the top of the food chain when they are really at the bottom.  This is an eat or get eaten scenario.  PCs better get their butts in gear and take out this crew of illegal acting misfits or decide the AZGOP is doomed. I'm calling for a RECALL of all board members except the treasurer and the secretary.  Put that Owens broad in a mental ward while you are at it.

The appearance of an impropriety in this political charade shows me that there is only one way ... their way .. and others be damned. If our own state party executives dismiss a provision of Bylaws, then they dismiss THEM ALL. How many times have we heard of abiding by rules and regulations ... then they pick and chose what they want applied for self-interest gain, and a limiting of the tools needed for a job to be effective, and one filled with integrity & ethics. Isn't that a lawlessness similar to what we Republicans have thrown at us by the Demoncrats.

A secrecy to one is a secrecy to all so that they can bring out the cigars and shut the doors!

Oh, my, it is becoming so very hard to be a Republican in Arizona.  As I review information from around the national political scene, I do believe the Republicans in many states are no better than these.  Sen. McCain is at the root of this poorly organized and poorly run atrocity of a party structure.  Our Governor Ducey is a McCain Republican.  That serves for our AG, Mr. Brnovich, too.  I do so hope, as was stated earlier here, that the PCs of AZGOP get together and remove Mr. Lines and both of the vice presidents.  Wipe the slate very clean and begin again.  Create an insurrection at the meetings if necessary, an uprising of the true conservative precinct committeemen.  I would go so far as to suggest that all PCs, not just state committeemen, attend the next January meeting.  Overwhelm them, if you must.

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