By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
The angry debate surrounding the by-law change controversy has dominated the talk on Alabama Republican blogs and social media for the last week, as the two sides lobby for the hearts and minds of Republican Executive Committee members. The heated debates continue as the Alabama Republican Executive Committee’s Annual Summer meeting in Montgomery approaches.
Cleburne County Executive Committee member Heath Jones has proposed yet another change to the by-laws. Heath wrote in an exclusive statement to the Alabama Political Reporter “I have watched a lot of debate over the latest proposed ALGOP by-laws and I have proposed a change to the party bylaws that I plan to present from the floor on Saturday.”
Jones wrote, “I would like to offer a by-law proposal that I believe would prevent some of the sudden changes in the future. As you know, almost all of our representatives on the ALGOP Steering Committee are put into place by a vote of the members of the SEC. However, four members of the Steering Committee are put in place automatically, based on the vote of an organization not officially affiliated with the Alabama Republican Party. The organizations granted a seat on the ALGOP Steering Committee are the Minority GOP, Republican Women, College Republicans, and Young Republicans. The Chairman of each organization is automatically granted the Steering Committee position for their respective group. Don’t get me wrong; I am not in favor of eliminating these four positions. These folks provide a perspective to ALGOP that I believe in invaluable. However, I do believe that these four members should answer to the SEC as the rest of the members are obliged to do. My proposal would preserve these positions on the Steering Committee with full voting privileges. The by-laws would also continue to require that the person filling the position ‘be an active member in good standing of an approved member group of the organization in question.’The difference would be that the representative for the organization on the steering committee be elected by a full meeting of the SEC at the winter meeting in each calendar year. This gives the SEC oversight over who will be casting votes to determine the future of the SEC. While it is important that we preserve these organizations’ representation on the Steering Committee, it is also important that the representative also reflects the wishes of the State Executive Committee of the Alabama Republican Party.”
Jones wrote, “Keep in mind, the position that each of the organizations has on the Steering Committee is granted by the by-laws adopted by the SEC. As a body, we essentially give them this position as a privilege. As a result, we should hold ourselves responsible for these positions as a responsibility that we hold as representatives of Alabama Republicans. There is no better way to ensure that the representation that is given to these organizations is held to the same standard as our Chairman and other members of the Steering Committee are held to – a vote of the people.”
The Alabama Political Reporter has talked with Stephanie Petelos, the ALGOP Steering Committee member whose outspoken support for extending Alabama marriage privileges to homosexual couples ignited much of this effort to change the by-laws. Petelos who is the Chairwoman of the Alabama Federation of College Republicans is not in favor of the Jones compromise which would allow the ALGOP executive committee select who represents the college Republicans on the steering committee rather than allowing the organizations themselves to choose their representative. At this point it is not known how the Republican Women, the Young Republicans, and the Minority GOP view this potential change to how their representative on the steering committee are selected. Since Heath Jones’s compromise would be introduced from the floor, it would need a 4/5s majority to pass.
The Alabama Political Reporter has asked Alabama Republican Party Chairman Bill Armistead to present his recommendations on the myriad of by-law changes on the record prior to the meeting.
Alabama Executive Committee member and Tuscaloosa political consultant Matt Jenkins wrote on facebook of the three by-law changes already on the agenda,
“I am very proud to serve on the Alabama State Executive Committee that represents the Republicans in Tuscaloosa, County Alabama. I feel it my obligation to my Republicans that I represent, that I explain how I will vote on Saturday for the three amendments on the table. On the amendment to not have elected officials serve on the State Committee, I will vote no. Three of our State Committee Members from Tuscaloosa County are Representative Bill Poole, Representative John Merrill, and Senator Gerald Allen. All three of these gentlemen not only do an outstanding job representing Tuscaloosa in Montgomery, they are also leaders and mentors to those of us who are a younger generation. It would not be fair not to have their leadership, experience, and guidance as members of the executive committee.”
Jenkins wrote, “On the amendment to have members pay a qualifying fee to the State Committee in order to be elected to the State Committee, I will be voting no. Elected seats and bonus seats should be controlled at the local level, since these Republicans are representing the local executive committees at the State level.”
Jenkins concluded, “On the amendment to remove any member of the State Steering Committee who does not agree with the parties’ platform, I will be voting no. There are a couple of reasons for this and I have talked to both sides on this matter. First this is politics and whether you are a Republican or Democrat, people speak out all the time, good, bad, or indifferent about issues and political platforms. Senator Shelby voted for Secretary Hagel, Governor Christie is for the NSA spy program, Jeb Bush is for common core, Mary Cheney is for same sex marriage, Senator Cruz is for lower taxes, Senator Chambliss is for rising taxes and the list goes on. If we are going to be the true party of economic freedom, freedom of speech, if we are going to champion against abortion, be a party of prosperity, and are truly for smaller government we must let our members of our party express their feelings. I know people on both sides of these issues and I respect them all and the way they are going to vote.”
The Alabama Executive Committee meets twice a year: in the Summer and in the Winter. The Alabama Republican Party is expecting 860 members to be present at the Summer Dinner on Friday night to hear Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker (R). The summer meeting where the Executive Committee of the party will vote on the proposed bylaw changes is to be held on Saturday morning.