A Tale Of Two Memos
By Kevin Rex Heine, Section News
I grew up in rural northeast Michigan (Iosco County to be precise). I can tell you as a certainty gained from hard experience that I know manure when I smell it. So when I say that the stench arising from the sequence of high-profile republican primary screwups smells like a bathtub-sized crock of elephant exhaust . . . well, I've got a usable reference point.
I mean, seriously, let's look at this: The outcome flip-flop in Iowa, the under-appeal results in Florida, the precinct hijacking in Maine, the pending-appeal results in Arizona, and now the Michigan "Dele-Gate" scandal. Five, count `em five, instances where at least one of the republican primary candidates has a legitimate gripe about the allegedly official outcome. The common thread? The candidate who benefitted from each of screwups is Willard Mitt Romney.
Here in Michigan, as I wrote two days ago, the Romney campaign and its surrogates had spent the bulk of Wednesday spinning their tails off to call the Wolverine State for the "Native Son" in order to preserve their coronation narrative. When the facts of MIGOP rule 19-C(2) and how that applies so as to exactly split the two at-large delegates started to come to light and dominate the narrative, the tactics changed. As I wrote yesterday, in a nigh-unto-midnight teleconference, six of the seven members of the MIGOP Credentials Committee voted 4-2 to change the application of rule 19-C(2) ex post facto and hand both of the at-large delegates to Romney.
I rarely give the drive-by beltway mainstream media much credit (because they so rarely deserve it), but ABC News gets this one right:
"I have this crazy idea that you follow the rules," said former Attorney General Mike Cox said after a 4-2 vote by a Michigan GOP credentialing committee, according to the AP. "I'd love to give the at-large delegates to Mitt Romney, but our rules provide for strict apportionment."
Hmm, the notion of Romney getting a pyrrhic victory out of a backroom deal over one delegate is morbidly appealing. However, not for that reason am I going to let a clear act of ex post facto fraud slide by.
Let's stipulate before we go any further that Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum each won 7 of Michigan's 14 congressional districts. At two delegates per each district, both have a total of 14 district delegates. No one's disputing that. Nor is anyone arguing that Romney gets one of the two at-large delegates. No, what this entire three-days-and-counting dust-up is about is over whether Santorum or Romney gets the remaining at large delegate.
And that brings me to a very interesting pair of memoranda.
The first one we'll cover is one we've seen before. It was sent on March 1st by Kim Jorns (MIGOP Executive Director) to the Republican National Committee and other Interested Parties regarding the Michigan Delegate Allocation to the 2012 Republican National Convention. The apparent purpose of this memo is to let the RNC and others know how the state party will be awarding the Michigan delegation. The first two-and-a-half pages are fairly standard blather with no real impact on what we're discussing. Starting at about the halfway point on page three, however, this gets really interesting.
Evidently, the MIGOP Credentials Committee starts with a premise that's supported by the rules (candidates that receive 15% of the statewide vote total will be allocated delegates proportionally starting with the candidate who wins the majority of the statewide votes) and proceeds from there in a direction that makes no sense. See, while it's true that Michigan retains its initial 14 at-large delegates, according to RNC rule 16 (which penalizes states that hold binding contests earlier than authorized) only 2 of those delegates are actually "officially recognized voting delegates," the remaining 12 being about as useful as a dozen wooden nickels.
By whatever bizarre calculus Saul Anuzis and the other three "yes" votes on the Credentials Committee chose to use Wednesday night, that somehow worked out to Mitt Romney getting both voting delegates, and Rick Santorum getting stuck with seven non-voting delegates. To extend the nickels analogy, that'd be like me having 14 nickels in my hand (two actual nickels and 12 wooden nickels), giving you seven of the wooden nickels, and then proclaiming that I've divided the nickels evenly and fairly. This is the point at which you'd likely utter a foul term meaning male bovine exhaust.
Yet Saul, referencing the Jorns memo, swears up and down that this is consistent with the unanimous decision of the MIGOP Credentials Committee back on February 4th. That decision, and the mechanics coming out of it, was put into a memo sent to the RNC on February 7th.
And this is where I sidebar a bit to give the reader some necessary background information.
According to Michigan Republican Party protocols and bylaws, all proposed rules changes have to go through the Policy Committee for preliminary approval before being placed before the full state committee for adoption or rejection. That's the same committee that's currently chaired by Mike Cox. That's why last year's discussions about which method we'd use for this year's primary started in his committee.
The method that was adopted by the full state committee on August 13th is what's referred to as a "hybrid primary." A hybrid primary is one in which the delegation is awarded on two levels: A portion of the delegation is awarded to each congressional district on a district-by-district winner-take-all basis. The remainder of the delegation is awarded at-large, but on a proportional basis to any candidate whose statewide popular vote total exceeds a predetermined percentage. (Virginia, Vermont, Kansas, and Connecticut are also using this method.)
Now, because this is a presidential primary, once the method and date are on file with the RNC (the method was filed in September), neither can be changed without a waiver being issued by the RNC. Let me say that again. Once the MIGOP files their presidential primary method with the RNC, it cannot be changed unless the RNC issues a waiver!
So, going back to Saul's March 1st blog post, we see that this February 4th meeting of the MIGOP Credentials Committee unanimously approved the procedures for allocating Michigan's national convention delegates. He also claims that the Credentials Committee did not change any of those rules, but merely ratified the existing procedures.
Keep that statement in mind; we'll be referring back to it.
The February 7th memo sent from the MIGOP Credentials Committee to "Interested Persons" regarding the Application of Possible Penalty Imposed Pursuant to Rule 16 of the Rules of the Republican Party (the "National Rules") to Govern the 2012 Republican National Convention, is a nine-page document (four-page cover memo and five-page appendix) that goes into some detail on the process of awarding the at-large delegation. The next-to-last paragraph of the cover memo (starting at the bottom of page 3) is important:
With respect to at-large delegates and alternates, please note that absent a penalty from the Republican National Committee, Michigan is entitled to fourteen (14) at-large delegates and alternates. According to Rule No. 19C(2). of the State Rules, at-large delegates and alternates are allocated on a proportional basis of the statewide vote, to presidential candidates receiving at least fifteen percent (15%) of the statewide vote. This process of allocation will remain unchanged. Now, however, an at-large slate of two (2) National Convention delegates and alternates will also be selected to complete the "officially recognized" listing of 30 National Convention delegates and alternates from Michigan. The allocation of this "officially recognized" at-large slate of two (2) National Convention delegates and alternates shall be calculated in accordance with Rule No. 19C(2).of the State Rules by merely substituting "two (2)" for "fourteen (14)."
Got that? The "officially recognized" members of the at-large delegation are the multiplier to be used to determine proportional allocation. Normally, that'd be 14, but because of the RNC-imposed penalty, the multiplier is now 2. So that we can review how this works, let's look at Rule 19-C(2), starting on the first page of the appendix (page 5 of the PDF):
National Convention at-large delegates and at-large alternate delegates shall be elected on a basis that insures that the proportion of the at-large National Convention delegation that is committed to each Republican presidential candidate equals, as nearly as is practicable, the proportion of the statewide vote that was cast for each respective presidential candidate (or, if applicable, uncommitted) at the statewide Presidential Preference Vote. The determination of these proportions shall only include the votes cast for that particular Republican presidential candidate (or, if applicable, uncommitted), if the total vote cast for that particular Republican presidential candidate (or, if applicable, uncommitted), equals at least fifteen percent (15%) of the total statewide vote cast for all Republican presidential candidates (or, if applicable, uncommitted) at the Presidential Preference Vote (hereinafter the "Threshold Vote").
So, because only Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum cleared the 15% statewide threshold, only those two are entitled to a crack at the at-large delegation. Reading further:
The State Party Chair shall assure that the proportion of the at-large National Convention delegation committed to a particular presidential candidate (or, if applicable, uncommitted) is equal to the proportion of the statewide Presidential Preference Vote. That number shall be determined by dividing the total statewide Presidential Preference Vote received by each presidential candidate (or, if applicable, uncommitted) by the total statewide Presidential Preference Vote cast for all Republican presidential candidates (or, if applicable, uncommitted), not including within the total statewide Presidential Preference Vote those votes cast for any candidate (or, if applicable, uncommitted) that did not equal or exceed the Threshold Vote.
So, going back to the Jorns memo, the statewide vote totals for Mitt Romney (400,478) and Rick Santorum (371,639) add up to a total of 772,117 votes. The next thing we need to do is determine the percentage each candidate claimed of the qualifying total . . .
The resulting percentage for each candidate (or, if applicable, uncommitted) shall be multiplied by fourteen (14) and rounded to the nearest whole number (.5 and above rounds up, below .5 rounds down), which shall be the number of delegates and alternate delegates that that candidate (or, if applicable, uncommitted) shall receive from the at-large National Convention delegation.
But remember what the cover memo said. The allocation of this "officially recognized" at-large slate of two (2) National Convention delegates and alternates shall be calculated ... by merely substituting "two (2)" for "fourteen (14)." So the multiplier that we're to use isn't 14, it's 2! And running the math . . .
I don't know if you noticed, but this February 7th memo was drafted after the February 4th State Credentials Committee . . . the same committee meeting that:
"unanimously passed the procedures for allocating Michigan's delegates to the National Convention in the event that the RNC imposes the 50% penalty on our delegation."
But there seems to be a direct conflict between the cover memo explaining the committee's unanimous decision and Saul's version of the story. According to Saul:
"We agreed that the two at large delegates would be taken from the top of the slated delegations as submitted by the candidate who received the most votes statewide. ... There is no disagreement amongst the members that this was the intent of the Credential Committee and there is email traffic between the committee members and counsel discussing the same."
Now, let me point out the bottom of page four of the cover memo, specifically this line:
If any interested person should have any questions regarding this Memorandum, please contact Eric Doster, Michigan Republican Party General Counsel, at 517-371-8241.
So Eric Doster, Michigan Republican Party General Counsel and voting member of the Credentials Committee, drafted a four-page cover memo explaining the committee's unanimously-agreed decision as to how the RNC-imposed penalty was to be implemented. I don't know what any of you do or don't know about Mr. Doster; I've met him two or three times, and he doesn't strike me as a guy who's going to screw up something this important.
But Saul claims that the Credentials Committee meeting two nights ago merely ratified the existing procedures that were unanimously approved back on February 4th. Saul also claims that there is no disagreement among the members of the Credentials Committee (apparently despite the non-unanimous vote two nights ago) as to their intent.
So our choice here is Eric Doster's view, which has publicly available documentation to back it up, or Saul Anuzis' view, which is supported only by his and Scott Greenlee's say-so and no actual proof.
To me this seems pretty easy. And it's starting to stink in here.
A Tale Of Two Memos | 6 comments (6 topical, 0 hidden)
A Tale Of Two Memos | 6 comments (6 topical, 0 hidden)
Related Links+ as I wrote two days ago
+ As I wrote yesterday
+ ABC News gets this one right
+ Michigan Delegate Allocation to the 2012 Republican National Convention
+ going back to Saul's March 1st blog post
+ Applicatio n of Possible Penalty Imposed Pursuant to Rule 16 of the Rules of the Republican Party (the "National Rules") to Govern the 2012 Republican National Convention
+ MSNBC article from yesterday
+ February 8th audio interview
+ Also by Kevin Rex Heine