LAGOP Internal Power Grab

GOP-Elephant-upside-downOn Saturday, April 27th, at a regular meeting of the Louisiana Republican State Central Committee, party leaders attempted to completely replace the current LAGOP bylaws with a new version.

As the bylaw changes were discussed and debated from the floor, the emotions in the room went from curiosity to awkwardness – and then quickly progressed to embarrassment and frustration.

The meeting abruptly ended as members began walking out and the group lost quorum.

For readers from outside of Louisiana, I should point out that this effort was launched during the middle of our legislative session. Instead of rallying conservatives at the legislature to help pass or defeat bills critical to the future of our state, our party was distracted by this effort.

The new bylaws will be back on the agenda at the next SCC meeting, which is currently scheduled for August 24th in Baton Rouge.

Following is an overview of the changes that would have been implemented had the bylaw changes passed.

Transparency Changes:

1) Removed the obligation of the Treasurer to provide a quarterly budget report to the State Central Committee.

2) Removed the requirement for an annual audit of the state party’s finances and removed the audit committee’s access to financial records.

Executive Committee Changes:

1) Removed the requirement that the Executive Committee must confirm the Chairman’s appointments to committees, offices or other positions before they can take effect.

2) Removed the requirement that the Executive Committee approve new staff.

3) Removed the requirement that the Executive Committee approve staff and consultant salaries.

Other Key Changes:

1) Removed the prohibition of SCC members from simultaneously serving as employees or consultants for the state party.

2) Removed the prohibition of using state party financial resources or staff to influence State Central Committee elections.

The changes are a bit difficult to follow because no document detailing the specific text changes was prepared. Instead, SCC members were emailed a copy of the proposed Bylaws with highlights over sections that had been changed. No notation was made to explain or detail the specific change.

No notation or reference of any kind was made in regards to sections or paragraphs that were deleted. The standard legal formatting of underlining new sections of text and striking through deleted sections of text was not followed.

It was left up to the members to manually compare the two documents line by line and investigate the impact of any change.

You can review the original LAGOP bylaws here and the complete proposed revision here.

Below is a more detailed look at some of the sections that were changed and/or deleted.

To follow the changes, you’ll have to review each section closely.

Transparency Change 1: Removed the obligation of the Treasurer to provide a quarterly budget report to the State Central Committee.

Article V. Section 3. (ORIGINAL):

The Treasurer shall have the custody and responsibility of the funds of the Party. He shall cause said funds to be deposited in a bank or banks selected by the Executive Committee, which funds may be drawn as prescribed by the Executive Committee. He shall see that the financial records of the Party are properly maintained, shall present at each State Central Committee and Executive Committee meeting a budget status and financial report summarizing income, expenses, assets and liabilities of the Party and shall perform such other duties as are assigned by the State Central Committee or by the Executive Committee as well as those duties applicable to the office as prescribed by Robert’s Rules of Order.

Article V. Section 3. (PROPOSED):

The Treasurer shall be the Chief Financial Officer of the Party. He shall see that the financial records of the Party are properly maintained, shall present at each Executive Committee meeting a budget status and financial report summarizing income, expenses, assets and liabilities of the Party and shall perform such other duties as are assigned by the State Central Committee or by the Executive Committee as well as those duties applicable to the office as prescribed by Robert’s Rules of Order, Newly Revised.

Transparency Change 2: Removed the requirement for an annual audit of the state party’s finances and removed the audit committee’s access to financial records.

Article VII. Section 1. (ORIGINAL)

Audit Committee: The Audit Committee shall consist of five Members, at least three of whom are experienced in business and financial matters. The Audit Committee shall monitor the accounting and financial systems, procedures and policies and other internal financial controls of the Party and shall make recommendations to the Executive Committee and the State Central Committee on any changes, modifications or improvements that the Audit Committee deems necessary or advisable. It shall also, in cooperation with the Executive Committee, select a firm to conduct an annual independent audit of the Party’s financial records, supervise the conduct of this audit and present the same to the State Central Committee at the first meeting following the audit’s completion. The Audit Committee shall be allowed access to all records of the Party necessary to carry out its responsibilities.

Article VII. Section 1. (PROPOSED)

Audit: The Audit Committee shall consist of five Members, at least three of whom are experienced in business and financial matters. The Audit Committee shall monitor the accounting and financial systems, procedures and policies and other internal financial controls of the Party and shall make recommendations to the Executive Committee and the State Central Committee on any changes, modifications or improvements that the Audit Committee deems necessary or advisable. At the first regular meeting of each calendar year, the Audit Committee shall recommend to the State Central Committee whether to conduct a full audit or audit review of the prior year’s financial activity. Said recommendation shall take effect unless altered by majority vote of the State Central Committee.

NOTE: At first glance it appears that the change is to downgrade the “type” of audit. However, because of the way the text is written, nothing will happen if the audit committee doesn’t make a recommendation. For those of you who may be in doubt, let’s remember that this is the same group of individuals that previously launched, and lost, an effort to manipulate Presidential Caucus rules based primarily on a missing “oxford comma.”

Executive Committee Change 1: Removed the requirement that the Executive Committee must confirm the Chairman’s appointments to committees, offices or other positions before they can take effect.

Article VI. Section 1 (ORIGINAL):

The Executive Committee shall have general supervision of the affairs of the Party between meetings of the State Central Committee, fix the hour of meetings, make recommendations to the State Central Committee and shall perform such other duties as are specified in these bylaws. The Executive Committee shall be subject to the orders of the State Central Committee and none of its acts shall conflict with actions taken by the State Central Committee. The Executive Committee shall prepare a budget and submit it to the State Central Committee for approval by a majority vote at the first regular meeting each calendar year. A copy of the proposed budget shall be included with the call of the meeting. The Executive Committee may from time to time submit amendments to the budget, which amendments may be adopted by a majority vote of the State Central Committee. The Executive Committee may authorize any disbursements or expenditures that are consistent with the budget as approved by the State Central Committee and may authorize persons to sign checks and drafts against the Party’s bank accounts. In all cases where the Chairman is authorized to appoint a Member or other person to a committee, office or other position, the appointment shall not take effect until approved by the Executive Committee.

Article VI. Section 2 (PROPOSED and RENUMBERED):

The Executive Committee shall have general supervision of the affairs of the Party between meetings of the State Central Committee, fix the hour of meetings, make recommendations to the State Central Committee and shall perform such other duties as are specified in these bylaws. The Executive Committee shall be subject to the orders of the State Central Committee and none of its acts shall conflict with actions taken by the State Central Committee. The Executive Committee shall prepare a budget and submit it to the State Central Committee for approval annually. The Executive Committee may from time to time submit amendments to the budget, which amendments may be adopted by a majority vote of the State Central Committee. The Executive Committee may authorize any disbursements or expenditures that are consistent with the budget as approved by the State Central Committee and may authorize persons to sign checks and drafts against the Party’s bank accounts. In all cases where the Chairman is authorized to appoint a Member or other person to a committee, office or other position, the Executive Committee may, within thirty (30) days of the appointment, reject such appointment by 2/3 vote.

Executive Committee Change 2: Removed the requirement that the Executive Committee approve new staff.

Article XII. Section 3 (COMPLETELY DELETED – with no notation, or notification of any kind):

The Executive Director, with approval of the Executive Committee, may hire employees, staff, or consultants to assist the Executive Director. The Executive Director may dismiss any employee, staff member or consultant.

Executive Committee Change 3: Removed the requirement that the Executive Committee approve staff and consultant salaries.

Article XII. Section 4 (COMPLETELY DELETED – with no notation, or notification of any kind):

The Executive Committee shall approve in advance any salary or other compensation paid to the Executive Director, the employees, the staff or the consultants of the Party.

Other Key Change 1: Removed the prohibition of SCC members from simultaneously serving as employees or consultants for the state party.

Article IX. Section 1 (ORIGINAL):

An elected Member is subject to removal from office when the Member:
(a) establishes domicile outside of his State Legislative House District;
(b) is convicted of a misdemeanor involving moral turpitude or of a felony;
(c) changes his official registration from Republican;
(d) is hired as an employee, staff member or consultant of the Republican Party of Louisiana.

Article IX. Section 1 (PROPOSED):

A Member shall forfeit his office when the Member:
(a) changes his official registration from Republican;
(b) is convicted of a misdemeanor involving moral turpitude or of a felony;
(c) establishes domicile outside of Louisiana;
(d) fails to attend, in person, at least one (1) of four (4) consecutive regular meetings of the State Central Committee without being granted leave by the Executive Committee or by the State Central Committee.

Other Key Change 2: Removed the prohibition of using state party financial resources or staff to influence State Central Committee elections.

Article XII. Section 5 (COMPLETELY DELETED – with no notation, or notification of any kind):

Employees and staff members shall not, either directly or indirectly, participate in or attempt to influence the election of Members, nor shall any person use Party funds, assets or resources for that purpose.

This article doesn’t detail all of the bylaw changes, and in fairness, some of the proposed changes are good and helpful. However, the overall impact is to transfer power from the State Central Committee to the Executive Committee, and to transfer power from the Executive Committee to the Chairman.

Regardless of how you feel about any of the current party officers, these types of radical changes to the LAGOP organizational structure will have a negative impact on our party for many years to come.

It is not helpful for The Republican Party of Louisiana, or any organization, to consolidate so much power and control in the hands of so few.

America is famously a government of laws, and not of men, and our political organizations should be no different.

Charlie Davis is a former Executive Director of the Republican Party of Louisiana and currently an elected member of the State Central Committee.

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