Monday, March 19, 2012

Missouri Gone Wild

HUMAN EVENTS | John Hayward | March 19,2012
Missouri’s caucuses, in essence, elect people who vote for other people who then decide which presidential candidate to support. The district conventions are held in April, while the state convention doesn’t roll around until June. Furthermore, a few of the caucuses were postponed because of St. Patrick’s Day.

For this reason, nobody really “won” the caucuses, and we have only anecdotal evidence to judge what the eventual results might be. Many of these anecdotes involve Ron Paul supporters going wild.

Police were summoned to a high school gym in St. Charles County, where two Paul supporters were arrested, after violating caucus rules by setting up a video camera. According to USA Today, they “started to become verbally aggressive with event organizers and police officers.” The county Republican chairman, Eugene Dokes, feared the “possibility of someone trying to inflict personal injury or harm to me.” A police helicopter was buzzing overhead at one point. The caucus meeting, which had over 2,500 attendees, was canceled and rescheduled for a later date.

The Kansas City Star reports that in Clay County, “arguments between Ron Paul supporters and others became so intense that the caucus chairman threatened to have voters removed by force.” The Paul people say the caucus rules were bent, and broken, to work against their candidate:

Backers of the Texas congressman said they were upset their views weren't being heard. "We're just a little frustrated because caucuses are supposed to be run by a very strict set of rules," said Paul supporter John Findlay, who lost his bid to become caucus chairman. "We raised a number of points of order, points of information, points of parliamentary inquiry, many of which have been ignored."

But county caucus chairman Ben Wierzbicki said all caucus-goers had been treated fairly.

"Certain people have made it very difficult on most of the people who are involved in this caucus," he said. "It might be a little crazy, but that's part of it."

In the end, Clay County caucus attendees “firmly rejected an effort to more closely align the party platform with Paul’s views.”

ABC News relayed more reports of rowdy Paul supporters at caucus meetings in Boone, Greene, and Lincoln Counties. Paul ended up doing well at the first two caucuses, while in Lincoln County, there were more complaint of the rules being slanted against the gentleman from Texas. ABC notes that some of these complaints involve Paul supporters asserting that Robert’s Rules of Order transcend rules set by the county chairman.

ABC also provides some anecdotal evidence for those who suspect that Paul - who serves no realistic function in the Republican primary at this point beyond suppressing the vote for other candidates - has made some sort of arrangement with front-runner Mitt Romney:

While speculation has been noted on a national level that Ron Paul and Mitt Romney are somehow colluding in the 2012 race, anecdotal evidence from Missouri suggests some cooperation: In counties where Paul supporters showed well, Romney supporters and Paul supporters appeared together on mixed delegate slates. Local GOP officials said they couldn’t say, one way or another, whether Paul and Romney backers seemed to be cooperating in any organized way at individual caucus sites.

Since Newt Gingrich mostly remains in the race to poach delegates from Romney, the drawn-out and complicated Missouri caucuses are a good metaphor for the entire drawn-out and complicated GOP primary at this point: sound and fury, signifying something-or-other.


  1. I am a Paul supporter below is the opinion of a professional registered parliamentarian, that I trust, and consider very objective.

    "I have been at rowdy caucuses. They are hard to preside over. From What I could tell, this was a County or Senatorial District Convention Caucus and they were selecting delegates to go to the State Convention. The bottom line is that a majority rules even if the minority does not like it. I don't know Missouri convention rules. Each State Party adopts. In Texas, we could not suspend the rules adopted by the State Party governing caucuses. If a caucus could, then there is the possibility of 254 different ways to elect delegates and platform. The video does not provide the rule on the requirements of distribution of delegate slate or platform. Apparently the presiding officer had been elected to so serve. My sense was that the presider was doing a pretty good job and as people just kept yelling out Points of Order (some of which were really not) and Points of Information and disrupting the convention, he finally had to yell back (which he should not do). There should have been a Sargent at Arms that could have removed the disrupters. RONR advises that a presiding officer need not recognize Points of Order that become disruptive or the person if they are disruptive. Apparently they had adopted a rule allowing so much time for discussion and when the time expired, the presider followed the right procedure in putting the question to an immediate vote. That's why we adopt time limits. Without time limits, debate or filibuster could prevent the completion of the convention work. Usually the convention site is rented for a limited period of time. Looked like they were using a school auditorium. If the caucus goes over time, there is usually a large charge which is over the budget of the caucus to pay. Probably would have been helpful to have floor mics. Also remember that the parliamentarian is only an advisor to the presiding officer and is not responsible for enforcing parliamentary rules. Under Texas rules, once the nominating committee presents its report listing the slate of delegates, we can amend, by striking names and inserting other names. I would suspect it is the same in Missouri. In some states however, the nominating committee report is either voted up or down in its entirety. If voted down, then the nominating committee re-deliberates and makes another recommendation and so on until adopted by the caucus. What the speaker was asking for is who each delegate's preference for President was. On our delegate application form, there is no place to list that. However, at the State Convention, a person seeking election as a National Delegate will normally state who they are for in their speeches to the Congressional caucus that elects them. My experience is that many people know just enough parliamentary procedure to confuse the situation and as they become frustrated, they start unintentionally abusing the process. There is a lot to running caucuses and conventions and 99.99% of the people have not read the rules and if so, they don't appreciate all the ins and outs. I will close by saying that some people, not many, go to the caucuses and conventions just to disrupt."

  2. Unknown: You are so full of B.S. that I am absolutely sure the whites of your eyes are brown.

    The caucus went the way it did NOT because of the camera (which, by the 1st amendment was NOT allowed to be taken down no matter how many "rules" the committee wanted to make about it). That issue, despite the unconstitutionality of it, was resolved (the cameraman finally took it down) and the meeting went on.

    The issue was the chairperson NEVER allowed the caucus to vote on the presiding caucus chair or other committee people. He simply DECLARED who they were and would not bring it to a vote. THAT IS a valid use of Point of Order. He was OUT of order. You cannot run a meeting without a duly elected committee to run it. He COMPLETELY ignored requests for a vote on them. The WHOLE ROOM chanted who they WANTED as a chair and he ignored this as well. And I don't even know why you waste space in your article arguing about the delegate election process as it pertains to this event because they never even GOT to that point. There was also never an issue about time running over because this whole fiasco only took a little over an hour to occur. The caucus itself was scheduled for much longer than that. In addition, he adjourned the meeting without a 2/3rds vote which is also not allowed.

    As for the person who was arrested outside, he did NOTHING wrong. The caucus had been forced outside (they called it trespassing but it was a public school for crying out loud) and as i stated earlier, it was not due to the time limit for the event. Once they were outside the attendees attempted to reconvene the caucus (TOTALLY WITHIN THE RULES TO DO SO AS LONG AS YOU HAVE A QUORUM WHICH THEY DID). They elected their chairperson who was in the process of continuing the meeting.

    THAT is when he was arrested. When the cop was asked why, EVEN HE DID NOT KNOW! (this was recorded on video by the way).

    So don't spout off about this being just "some misunderstanding by those not understanding the rules." No, the problem was they DID understand the rules and that's why they KNEW that they were being broken by the ones running the event. And this was objected to by EVERYONE in that room (not just those ole "Ron Paul goofs").

    No. This was a COMPLETE attempt at thwarting the whole election process and for you to suggest anything otherwise, shows you to be at best, completely ignorant or at worst, a dis-informationalist.

    For a clue, why don't you watch the video for yourself:

  3. Jodie, I believe Unknown's parliamentarian's comments were specifically relating to the Clay county debacle ( I saw them posted on another website where the poster stated that he sent a link of the Clay county caucus to his professional parliamentarian friend who responded as quoted.