Saturday, April 12, 2008

Why the PWC Credentials Committee was justifiable

IN an otherwise uneventful PWC convention, one minor skirmish regarded the acceptance of Greg Letiecq as a PWC Republican Convention delegate.

UPDATE: Citizen Tom has his explanation as a member of the Credentials Committee posted HERE.

UPDATE: First, to tone things down a bit, second to correct an error. The fight wasn't about the PWC committee MEMBERSHIP, it was to be seated as a delegate to the PWC convention.

According to the PWC committee site, Greg did not request membership in the PWC committee. Although I'm guessing some people mistakenly thought the fight was over membership, not simply about voting in the convention and getting to go to other conventions. That's no excuse for my error, and I apologize. I've updated the post to fix the error.

(Note: Greg has his version at his blog, which anybody who is interested should go read.)

(Note 2: While this post is about Greg, it is not to argue about the decided issue. I offer support for the action of the credentials committee, to defend their action, not to argue that the decision should be reopened).

Two otherwise eligible candidates for PWC convention delegate were rejected by the Credentials committee, both for taking direct action against Republican candidates -- Greg Letieq and Desi Arnaiz. To understand why the Credentials committee was justified in rejecting Greg, it is important to note that the other rejection was not contested by the convention -- showing that in general the members of the Republican party still understand that being in the Party means supporting ALL of the party candidates, not just those we like.

I will note that Desi Arnaiz has had a LONG history of tireless work for the Republican party. Greg made an argument on his own behalf about how much he's done for the party, but while he has done a lot more than I have, his work doesn't match Desi's contributions. If anybody had the right to argue that they did so much for the party that they should be forgiven one indiscretion, it would be Desi Arnaiz.

Desi of course refused to support Gil Trenum for school board once Gil was endorsed by the Republican Committee. School board is in fact a non-partisan position, so technically Desi was not "refusing to support a Republican nominee". But Desi had pledged to support the endorsed candidate in order to seek that endorsement for himself. So when he continued his run for the board seat after failing to receive the endorsement, while he wasn't violating an RPV rule, he was breaking a pledge he made to the committee.

And as I said, nobody at the convention questioned the rejection of Desi. Those who make a pledge to the committee are expected to honor it, and if you don't, it may be held against you later.

So, what about Greg? Greg made a pledge to the committee when he joined, to support all the Republican candidates. The argument against him was simple: In violation of his pledge to support Republican candidates, Greg, a prominent public figure in his own right, publicly endorsed a Democratic Candidate, Paul Nichols, for the general election.

Sometimes we forgive people who take such action, but Greg expressed no remorse nor did he ask for forgiveness. I don't believe Greg thinks he did anything wrong.

The Credentials commitee has a difficult task. It must evaluate who is eligible to be a convention delegate based on their pledge to support Republicans. If a candidate has recently violated such a pledge, they may not easily accept the candidate unless the candidate makes an argument why their new pledge will be better than the old pledge.

Greg's endorsement of a pro-abortion, pro-tax Democrat in a race where we had a Republican candidate violated his pledge to support Republicans. As a citizen, Greg has every right to do so. But as a member of the Republican committee, he pledged to support Republicans, and if you want to support Democrats, you need to remove yourself from the committee which exists solely to elect Republicans.

Of course, this is not an easy call to make, and the Credentials committee was divided on the issue, voting 3-2 to reject Greg as a delegate. And while I defend that vote here, I could also understand if they had voted to leave this one lapse in the past, as apparently some of them desired to do.

Now, the convention can do what it wants. And I don't think the argument against Greg was well-presented -- and I felt no compulsion to do so, even though I had offered to do so simply to ensure that the convention voted based on a clear understanding of the real issue.

Unfortunately, that real issue was somewhat obscured by other issues that are important to some people -- integrity, ethics, honesty -- that were not considered germaine to the simple question of eligibility. Also, the question of the 51st district convention, while a clear example where a lot of people (not just Greg) let their emotions get away from the facts, isn't a very good reason to withold a delegate vote now. If the complaints rose to the level of being a punishable offense, the time to do that was last year.

But I knew that no matter how clearly the issue was presented, Greg was not going to be denied. I voted against him in the end, mostly because Greg's speech showed no indication that he wouldn't endorse Democrats in the future. If not for that, I would have followed the sound lead of Faisal Gill, offered through his son, to leave the past in the past.

But while I voted no, I am particularly concerned that the convention did not join me. We've allowed worse. And we are stuck with worse because of the rules regarding elected public officials.

I would like to hear the rationale some would offer for so quickly defending Greg, while offering not even a token comment about Desi. My guess is the argument would be that Desi actually ran AGAINST "our person", while Greg was just offering a personal opinion. It's not a bad argument, although because School Board is a non-partisan position, in the end the "crime" Desi committed was identical to Greg's -- a violation of a pledge made as a committee member.

But the argument Greg offered, that his hard work for SOME members of the party gives him free reign to break any pledges he wants, or to turn against any of our nominees that he disapproves of, is a very poor argument. Fortunately, Greg has only done this against one candidate, and maybe the personal circumstances were unique.

What DID disturb me was how receptive a many of my Republican colleagues were to that type of argument. A mix of "you can't live without me", "the ends justifies the means", and "dishonesty for the cause is no vice", Greg's speech received enthusiastic cheers where I would have hoped more sober judgement would have left people politely silent.

I may right more about that later.


James Young said...

Had the issue arisen (I guess I misunderstood the Credentials Committee's position), I would have voted to seat Desi, because he did not violate the strict construction of the pledge, with relates only to "nominees," not endorsees.

What is more disturbing is the silliness of the arguments made by Greg's advocates. That Grant Lattin would assert that it is an issue about "free speech" rights is so silly that he calls into question his qualifications to serve in public office.

Citizen Tom said...

Thanks for taking a position on this and for explaining it well.

With respect to Desi Arnaiz, I would offer just one correction to Jim's comment. When Arnaiz asked to compete for the PWC GOP's endorsement, he pledged not to run against the party's endorsed candidate. When his rival, Gil Trenum, received the endorsement, that separate and distinct pledge obligated Arnaiz to drop out of the contest.

Instead of dropping out the contest, Arnaiz continue to run, breaking his pledge. So Arnaiz broke his word, just not the particular pledge every member of the PWC GOP signs.

Frankly, I think Desi Arnaiz's will be missed. He was a hard worker and good company. I am afraid his pride got the best of him.

James Young said...

My only dispute on that point, Tom, is that I'm not persuaded that a new Committee is obligated to enforce a pledge made to an old Committee. I agree that Desi's action was dishonorable. My only question is about authority, and it's utterly clear that reasonable men may differ over their construction of it. As illustrated by our difference. ;-)

Charles said...

A Housekeeping comment. I've started to see links to my posts that I can't follow (I get errors).

SO I'm deleting them. I'm generally happy to have links, and I generally follow all links I find to see what others are saying about what I've written.

But not if I'm not allowed to read the reference.

Citizen Tom said...


The old committee was not obligated to enforce the pledge. The obligation is upon the person who takes the pledge.