AZGOP Robert Graham to Members of the AZGOP Executive Committee: LD23 Election and Nomination Issues Letter to LD 23 PCs
The purpose of this letter is to assure that every Republican precinct committeeman within the State of Arizona has a clear understanding surrounding the ongoing discussions with respect to LD 23 and the nomination of their state committeemen.
The discussions do NOT regard the call letter, how it was sent, or the Attorney General’s opinion defining “mail” and “electric communication.” Further, the discussions do NOT and need not address LD 23’s election of new leadership. State committeemen, once elected, have the awesome responsibility to represent their district and/or county in a material way each year. Every precinct committeeman has the right to a fair and well-defined nomination process to assure that everyone has the option to pursue their interest of becoming a state committeeman.
Like any club, organization, or business, it is normal to find new members who have little working experience or knowledge to apply to their newfound responsibilities. This reality adds additional responsibilities to leadership to assure everyone -- in this case newly elected precinct committeemen -- are included and are completely aware of the nomination process of becoming a state committeeman.
The AZGOP was made aware by many new precinct committeemen and later confirmed by Nancy Ordowski, the new Chairman of LD 23, that there were over 28 precinct committeemen that were never made aware of the nomination process to become a state committeemen.
The LD 23 leadership worked to acquire email addresses and any electronic means of communicating with the new precinct committeemen. Not all precinct committeemen responded to the requests. By not responding, leadership within all counties and district leadership must recognize the obligation to communicate with all elected precinct committeemen and the nomination process to run for state committeeman. If leadership does not have everyone’s email addresses or social media handle, USPS (mail) is the last resort to assure everyone is included. LD 23 did this with their call letters but not the nomination process for state committeeman. Herein lies the problem: to assure that everyone that would have wanted to be a state committeeman has a fair and equal opportunity to become a statecommitteemen.
Many have complained this was a bad process, one that alienated conservative stalwarts who are important to the party and its success. Congressman David Schweikert and his wife's proxies were not permitted. There was arbitrary enforcement of proxy rules.
C.T. Wright, a black leader in our party whom many of you know from his stirring invocations at our state party functions, was left alienated.
Conservative attorney Mike Liburdi, an active volunteer in the Republican Lawyers Association in the past, gave notice to Chairman O'Connor that he could not attend the meeting and was not allowed to run for state committeeman. He was not given notice of the deadline for making the ballot, gave advance notice of his desire to run in writing, and had a proxy at the meeting but was denied the ability to run.
Based on these examples and other similar complaints, AZGOP simply asked LD 23 to improve its process and hold a new election. They instead decided to hire lawyers and spent at least $5,000 fighting this. One is left wondering: what do you have to fear? Details are below, but the AZGOP simply offered to directly appoint Jim O'Connor as a state committeemen, allaying any fears that he would be prevented from campaigning for higher office in the party.
In any case, after reviewing the complaints and having multiple meetings with leadership from LD 23 and their legal counsel, it is clear that there was neither bad behavior nor the intent to disenfranchise the new precinct committeemen of LD 23. The challenge lies with the outcome of the 119 nominated state committeemen and the question “would the results be different if the 28 plus precinct committeemen were notified properly and included in the election for the state committee both as voters or candidates for state committeeman.”
What has the AZGOP Offered as a Resolution?
1) New Election: The AZGOP has offered to pay for a new election that would include ALL elected precinct committeemen from LD 23. This offer included paying for facilities, printing and postage. This offer was made weeks prior to the Maricopa County January 14th meeting and would assure compliance to all bylaws and Arizona Revised Statutes. A new election would have put forth best efforts to help assure that no one would have been left out of the process. Leadership in LD 23 said NO to this offer.
2) Lottery: Next was a lottery system to randomly draw precinct committeemen names from a “hat.” All names of the precinct committeemen would be included in the drawing. Once a name was picked they would be contacted to confirm or deny their interest to becoming a state committeeman. If confirmed the AZGOP, under advice and consent of the LD 23 Chairman and Maricopa County Chairman, we would appoint that person. If the person denied interest in becoming a state committeemen, then a new name would be drawn. This process would be followed until all 119 names were confirmed and appointed. Further, there was an additional offer. There has been some suggestion that the AZGOP was attempting to block Jim O’Connor from being eligible for running for state chairman by not allowing his district to be credentialed at the State Meeting. This is false. LD 23 was offered, if they chose the lottery process, that the AZGOP would hold out Jim O’Connor as an automatic appointment to be a state committeeman. He had the top number of votes in his district and the AZGOP thought this was only fair to assure that we did not interrupt or interfere with his statewide campaign. Leadership in LD 23 saidNO to this offer.
3) Letter to the District: Lastly, in an another effort to make sure that LD 23 had full state committeemen representation to the State Statutory Meeting on January 28, 2017, the AZGOP suggested that a letter come from the immediate past Chairman, Jim O’Connor, who presided over the LD 23 Reorganization and State Committeemen Nomination process, stating “there was NO intent of LD 23 leadership to disenfranchise or not include the block of precinct committeemen that were not included in the state committeeman nomination process. The mistake was a clear oversight and because of the complaints we have received from the LD 23 committee members we have worked with the AZGOP to define and develop uniform guidelines to help assure there will never be confusion in the future. This process would also help assure that everyone would be included or have the option to be included in the state committee nomination process in the future. Uniform guidelines that would be helpful for committees statewide.”
The AZ GOP has offered/proposed this simple statement as another way to assure that all currently nominated 119 State Committeemen would be credentialed at the upcoming State Statutory meeting with NO changes. Chairman Nancy Ordowski of LD 23 declined this offer too, stating their attorney said a statement of this nature would be an admission of guilt.
At this point, the AZGOP has offered at least three solutions that would assure LD 23 full representation at the State Statutory Meeting on January 28, 2017.
Given the reasonable solutions that have been offered, and the continued “no deal” response, it feels as if the intent to “credential LD 23” at the state meeting is not the top priority of previous and current leadership of LD 23. It also feels as if the accusatory “disenfranchisement” narrative being leveled by some is politically motivated.
As Chairman of the AZGOP I have the responsibility to give surety that all precinct committeemen statewide, within every county and district, have a fair and equitable opportunity to represent the Republican Party as a state committeeman. I am making every attempt to address the concerns brought forward by new and active precinct committeemen of LD 23 and I am continuing to work toward a solution. All precinct committeemen deserve and have the right to confidence in the process. Legitimacy should only be claimed once a fair and equitable resolution has been made.