EXCLUSIVE: DELEGATE RECOUNTS STATE GOP CONVENTION ANTICS
June 01, 2012--9:46 PM CDT
Note:THE DEAD PELICAN has been tirelessly following the antics of today's Louisiana state Republican Convention. For an insider's perspective and a first- person account of what happened, we tracked down Mr. Jason Stern, a Delegate from Congressional District 6. The following is Mr. Stern's recollection of the day's events.Background: At the Louisiana Presidential Caucus in April, Ron Paul (whether you like him or not) won over two thirds of the delegates to the Republican State Convention. Generally speaking, the majority at a convention is expected to govern the convention and select the delegates who will attend the national convention. One day before the convention, the executive committee of the Republican Party of Louisiana sent out an email communication to delegates stating that "temporary rules" would be used for the convention. Theses new rules, un-ratified by the Louisiana Republican State Central Committee, placed incredible restrictions on the convention, including the following:
Here is what I witnessed today as a delegate to the Louisiana State Republican Convention.
The state convention was opened by Louisiana Republican State Central Committee Chairman Mr. Roger Villere who announced that the convention would be operated under (last minute, unratified) rules that gave the executive committee nearly unlimited powers. He then announced that he was assuming the chair and leadership of the convention and appointed officers.
At this point, three duly-elected delegates rose, in turn, to deliver "points of order" on this announcement, asking to receive clarification on this unexpected and unusual set of changes.
Mr. Villere addressed two questions from the lectern (one was affirming that the quorum for the convention had been changed to one third of members present), but chose to ignore further requests of the delegates.
According to Roberts Rules of Order, a chairman may only ignore three requests of a member before the elected body may choose to remove him. [See New Roberts Rules of Order,11th Edition, Provision for Abuse of Authority by the Chair §62 (new) p. 650-651]
Continuing to ignore delegate requests, Mr. Villere then called for the report of the Rules Committee. Mr. Alex Helwig, the elected chair* of the Rules Committee rose from his seat in the delegate section and approached to deliver his report. Mr. Villere improperly called him out of order and had this gentleman forcibly removed from the convention and arrested (during this false arrest, the police officers broke his finger and injured his leg).
At this point, due to the repeated abuses of the chairman, another delegate called to “declare the chair vacant and elect a new chair.” [See previous rule note] The motion was seconded. The delegates (numbering over 100) voted to remove Mr. Villere as chair. Parliamentary procedure was followed to the letter, though it was ignored from the platform.
As Mr. Villere refused to vacate the chair, over 100 delegates physically lifted their chairs and turned 180 degrees and began the process of electing a new convention chairman.
As the new chairman, Henry Herford, began to address the delegates, he was promptly assaulted by security (The officers were obviously confused when Mr. Villere called for the gentleman's removal). The elderly gentleman was pushed to the ground and required medical attention at a local hospital.
The convention was continued despite Mr. Villere's refusal to vacate and proceeded to elect the vice chair to assume the role of chair. Delegate (now Chair) Connie Barnard continued the order of business. Following the successfully concluded convention, delegates met to elect national delegates and were received warmly by the Romney state chairman.
*Alex Helwig, delegate from District 6, was elected by the members of the Rules Committee on Friday, June 1st at approximately 11:50 a.m. following the Rules Committee members' removal of Mr. Scott Wilfong from the chairmanship. Mr. Wilfong, like Mr. Villere, refused to vacate his chair.