By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
On Friday night Republicans from around the state will have their annual summer dinner in Montgomery. Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker is scheduled to address an estimated 600 Alabama Republicans and their supporters. On Saturday morning, the Alabama Republican Executive Committee will meet to address executive committee business including some proposed changes to the bylaws that have been generating considerable controversy.
Committee member Jeff Peacock took to Facebook on Friday morning to express his opposition to some of the proposed changes.
Peacock wrote, “Fellow ALGOP Committee members, I ask you to oppose three proposed changes to our ALGOP Bylaws at next week’s Summer Meeting. Since I serve as a member of the six person Bylaws Committee, I wanted to share my perspective with you on these proposals.”
The first change involves qualifying Fees. This change would require that all candidates for the state committee (regular and bonus positions) to pay a qualifying fee to the state party. Peacock said, “So, for example, if your county has an open seat on the state committee and three people run for this seat, all three must pay a qualifying fee to the state party. This qualifying fee is in addition to the Capitol Club dues that must be paid by the prevailing candidate.”
Peacock said, “I firmly believe that decisions such as this should be decided by the local committees rather than mandated by the state party. Furthermore, since the bonus positions are elected solely by the county executive committees, then it should be the county party that receives the qualifying fee, not the state party. Therefore, I encourage you to vote ‘no’ on this proposed change to the bylaws.”
The second bylaw change which Peacock opposes is a provision for removing Steering Committee Members for taking a position contrary to the current RNC platform. The measure which has gotten considerable press was actually defeated in the Bylaws Committee by a 4-2 vote. The controversial measure was not approved by either the Bylaws Committee or the Steering Committee. Despite this it still appears to be on the agenda in the upcoming meeting.
Multiple media outlets are reporting that this provision was introduced to target Stephanie Petelos for comments that she made to ‘the Alabama Political Reporter’ in which she stated her personal support in extending marriage rights to homosexual couples.
Nationally known GOP/Libertarian political consultant and Alabama native Stephen Gordon wrote to the executive committee, “This issue began when the president of the Alabama Federation of College Republicans issued a public statement supporting the US Supreme Court regarding their recent DOMA decision. While it is an important topic, this issue goes considerably beyond same-sex marriage. On both sides of the aisle and across the country, people perceive the effort to pass this bylaw as bullying a female college student and as an attempt to silence dissent.”
Peacock wrote, “I ask you to oppose this change for several reasons: – This change sets a dangerous precedent that any disagreement with the platform could lead to removal from party leadership. For example, do you realize that the current RNC platform supports statehood for Puerto Rico (pg 29) and a two-state solution (co-existence of Israel and Palestine) in the Middle East (pg 49)? If you publicly oppose these ideas, you could be removed from the steering committee under this new bylaw.
- In the unfortunate event that our platform becomes more moderate, this bylaw would effectively silence any efforts to fight against this moderation.
- This proposed bylaw change is poorly defined. For example, who will decide if someone has violated the bylaw? And will the accused be allowed any due process or right to appeal? The proposed change fails to address either of these questions.”
Gordon wrote, “While there are some exceptions to the rule, pretty much every YR or CR I know adamantly opposes this proposed bylaw. One doesn’t get to be CR president on a larger campus or YR chairman in a larger county or region without some political acumen – remember that these are contested elected positions. And the Steering Committee seats are assigned not to local presidents or chairman, but to the “Chairman or President” of their respective state federation. If a young leader has managed his or her way through this dual election process, it’s is pretty clear that they speak for the majority of their “constituents” when they voice a political opinion. And like anyone else holding any elected position, if they fail in this regard, they can be voted out of office.”
Third Peacock is also opposing a change to the bylaws which would prevent elected officials from serving on the state, district, or county executive committees.
Peacock wrote that this rule would restrict elected officials from holding positions on the state, district or county executive committees and would prevent elected Republican officeholders from serving as delegates to the Republican National Convention. Peacock said that he disagreed with this change because he believed it would be unfair for the Party to tell those Republicans that they are not welcome to be a part of the party organization and because, “I think we should encourage elected Republicans to be MORE, not less, involved in our party. This measure will stifle involvement, not promote it.”
Peacock wrote, “Finally, as with the qualifying fee situation, decisions like this should be made at the county level, not mandated by the state party. If a county committee does not want elected officials on the committee, they can make that decision without the state party getting involved.”
Critics of the changes warn that driving dissidents out of the party could potentially weaken the big tent that is the Alabama Republican Party and potentially weaken the party in the long run.