I got involved in the Utah Republican Party because I didn’t like what I saw going on in Washington, D.C, and even in our own State.
I felt like, despite my vote being counted at the ballot box, my voice wasn’t being heard after the votes had been counted.
I got involved in my local Precinct and began learning how the system worked – it was a steep learning curve. I felt overwhelmed, but I stayed the course and I learned the process.
I’m writing you to share what I’ve learned, and recap what’s going on so you’ve got more information.
You probably already know a lot of this, but just to make sure we’re on the same page, here’s a little background…
Why do we have Parties in the first place?
The Utah Republican Party (UTGOP) is made up of individuals like you and I and our neighbors who voluntarily associate under a set of fundamental values. In political-lingo, those values are called “Planks”, and together they make up our “Platform”. Each political party has their own Platform made up of Planks which are descriptive of the core values members of those Parties wish to protect and defend.
That’s the whole reason for Political Parties in the first place: to protect and defend those core values.
To ensure that’s being done (and that our elected officials are casting votes which protect and defend those values), people voluntarily associate into Parties (which is protected by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, and is why the Parties challenged SB54).
Just like in our Republic, where we elect Representatives and Senators to represent us at both the State and Federal levels, in the UTGOP we elect representatives who will help nominate candidates to the ballots and organize the Party and its operations.
The Constitution of the UTGOP clearly states the State Central Committee (SCC) is the “Governing Body” of the Party and sets its policies and procedures – they are the “Legislative Branch”, if you will. The Party Officers (Chair, Vice-Chair, Secretary, and Treasurer) are the “Executive Branch” – they “execute” the direction and policies set by the SCC.
It is literally the duty of the Party Officers to execute the policy set by the SCC – not to determine what the direction and policies are. Unlike a former President of the United States, the UTGOP doesn’t tolerate circumventing the legislative body with a phone and a pen.
I’ve got a pen and I’ve got a phone – and I can use that pen to sign executive orders and take executive actions and administrative actions… — Barack Obama
Are you okay with our Party being run this way?!
Meetings of the SCC
The SCC should meet quarterly, but can (and should) meet more often if circumstances dictate. According to the Party’s governing documents, these “Special Meetings” can be called either by the Party Chair or by 25% of the voting members of the SCC – the method for doing so is even described.
That’s what happened recently: more than 25% of the SCC called for a Special Meeting. They satisfied all the requirements described in the Party’s rules, and on Saturday, 16 December, 2017, the SCC met.
About 70 members of the SCC were credentialed, but the Party Chair and Vice-Chair weren’t present to conduct the meeting. A quorum (the minimum amount necessary to conduct binding business) is around 40 – this meeting had almost double that.
According to our rules, the Party Chair conducts meetings of the SCC, but just in case he cannot (if he gets caught in traffic, is out of the state on business, etc.), our Party rules say the Vice-Chair takes over. Without the Vice-Chair present, our Party’s rules are “silent” on what to do.
Thankfully, Utah Republicans were wise enough to include a “catch-all” in our Governing Documents: when our Party rules don’t cover something, we fall-back to Robert’s Rules of Order. Under Robert’s Rules, if the Chair and Vice-Chair are absent, the body (in this case the SCC) elect a person to conduct the meeting. (Interestingly, this elected person is immediately dismissed as soon as the Party Chair or Vice-Chair arrive, at which point they conduct the remainder of the meeting.)
Historically, meetings of the SCC could be described as “contentious” – sometimes taking an hour or more just to decide the agenda!
Some people like to look at that as a negative thing, and claim it’s indicative of the SCC being “dysfunctional”. I respectfully disagree.
The way I see it, your elected SCC members are passionate about making sure your voice is heard and your points of view are represented in those meetings. Our Party rules (and Robert’s Rules, for that matter) are there to make sure that everyone has the opportunity to hair the voice heard.
December’s Special SCC Meeting
Last week’s Special SCC Meeting had more than twice the minimum amount of SCC members needed, and in the absence of the Party Chair and Vice-Chair, the body of the SCC elected a registered parliamentarian to conduct the meeting.
I’ve been to quite a few SCC meetings (both as a member, and as an observer – you don’t have to be a member to go and watch). This meeting was the most smooth and professional SCC Meeting I’ve seen – ever.