I’d like to report on the SCC meeting that was held on Saturday, August 5, 2023. The acronym SCC stands for State Central Committee. These are meetings that are called by the State Party Chairman, who is currently Dave Williams. The State Central Committee consists of the county chairs, vice-chairs, secretaries and any bonus members of each county, the elected state officers of the party, as well as the elected state legislators and US Congressional members, the Republican National Committee members and District Attorneys and elected state officials. There are currently approximately 448 members of the SCC.
Critics of party politics call these people, Party Insiders. The derogatory connotation is intentional. In reality these are the most active members of the party. These types of criticisms seem to help convince voters to unaffiliate. But without an organization to promote your political beliefs, how do individuals actually promote those beliefs in the operation of our government? You can’t as an individual, unless you are very wealthy and can afford to promote your political beliefs on television and written and digital media. Political parties are necessary for individuals to promote shared beliefs and values. If you are not a member of a political party, you are essentially voiceless. Sure, you can vote, but that is one voice among many and you are voting on candidates that others are selecting. I have been struggling on how to report on what happened at the August 5th meeting – how many details to give without going on and on but still capture the nuances of what happened at the meeting. I’ve worked on this for the past week, so I hope I’ve done a decent job.
The meeting was called by Chairman Williams to fill the recently vacated position of Vice-Chair. Priscilla Rahn resigned her position to run for County Commissioner in Douglas County. The meeting was held at The Rock Church in Castle Rock. The agenda also included seven amendments of proposed bylaw changes for the State GOP Bylaws. I’ll cover the election of the Vice-Chairman first. There were originally five candidates that stood for the position. They were:
Todd Watkins – current Vice-Chair of El Paso County Republican Central Committee.
Stu Asay – current Chairman of Gunnison County Republican Central Committee.
Hope Scheppelman – Current Secretary of La Plata County Republican Central Committee.
Aaron Wood – A conservative from Highlands Ranch Colorado who ran for the Party Chair position earlier this year.
Alexander Mugatu – A conservative from Pueblo.
However, on Thursday August 3rd, at the end of a Candidate Forum that was put on by Chuck Bonniwell and Julie Hayden (Of the Chuck and Julie Show, #TruthStraightup), Alexander Mugatu recused himself from the race. So, on August 5th at the SCC meeting, there were four candidates. The candidates were allowed 8 minutes for nominations, seconds and candidate speeches. The balloting for the race was by paper ballot. The Chairman and the Chairwoman of the Teller Committee, Peg Cage of Boulder County, made a big show of how voting was going to be done on paper ballots with glass ballot boxes being used to collect the ballots and how voting was going to be secure and transparent. The Teller Committee numbered at least fifteen members and they were placed at the back of the stage, at the front of the auditorium, in full view of the audience. As the Chairman was opening the balloting for the race an SCC member asked to be recognized. She informed the Chairman, that she had received two sets of ballots when she registered that morning. No one else spoke up about receiving more than one set of ballots, so this was considered a one-off. Balloting was an interesting process. After members filled out their ballots, they lined up to deposit their ballots in the glass drop boxes. Teller committee members staffed each of the five ballot boxes. Before the ballots could be dropped in the box, members had to display their printed credentials that were issued when they checked in. Your credentials were then marked with a paste-on green paper dot. Teller committee members also checked your name off a list. This had to be performed for each ballot, so if you carried a proxy or proxies you had to complete this process for each ballot. The first round of voting for Vice-Chairman position took 35 minutes to complete.
While the assembly waited for the Teller committee to complete ballot counting for Round 1, we were shown several videos that were made by three of the Republican candidates for President in the 2024 election. We heard from Donald Trump, Vivek Ramaswamy and Ron DeSantis. The videos were produced specifically to present to this SCC meeting, with the candidates addressing the Colorado GOP SCC. All three candidates were well spoken, with Vivek Ramaswamy being surprisingly good. It will be an interesting presidential campaign.
We were also given a report by the new Treasurer, Tom Bjorklund. It was not a pleasant presentation. The financial situation with the Colorado GOP is not good. There have been financial irregularities and problems since Ryan Call was Chairman of COGOP, 2011-2015. (Call was disbarred from the Colorado Bar Association on October 14, 2021, after a complaint was filed alleging, he took nearly $280,000 from a super PAC supporting former President Donald Trump while Call served as the political action committee’s treasurer. Call admitted to transferring the funds in 37 transactions from 2016 to 2019.) Bjorkland also stated there were issues from the previous administration of Kristi Burton Brown. The bottom line was that there were many problems and unpaid bills. The problems have been corrected, the rent on the Greenwood Village office is being paid and donations are starting to come in. The officers have not collected a salary since they were elected because of all the problems. Hopefully that will change shortly. There were more details given, but I have tried to keep things short with this summary.
The results of the voting in Round 1 were still not available, so the Chairman called a five-minute break, so that members could get their lunches (which were ordered-in prior to the meeting). The five minutes turned into an hour. The Chairman eventually called the meeting back in session. The Chairman explained that the long delay was caused when 15 more ballots were counted than voters were credentialed in. This caused quite a stir. The Chairman of the Credentials Committee, State Senator Mark Baisley, explained that the discrepancy occurred when some of the proxy votes were improperly credentialed in, when their votes were not tabulated during the credentialing. So, when the discrepancy was resolved, the results were announced and the meeting proceeded. The Parliamentarian spoke and offered what he called the Fremont County solution. Fremont County had a similar situation and were able to work through it. The explanation was that since no one candidate had received sufficient votes to be declared the winner, then no one was harmed by the discrepancy. Improved security would be implemented for Round 2 and the voting could proceed. The results of the first round were:
Round 1- Election for Vice Chairman
171.83 Votes Needed to Win
The fractional votes are due to counties with multiple vice-chairs. Counties are entitled to one vote for a Chairman, one vote for a Vice-Chairman and 1 vote for Secretary. If a county has multiple vice-chairs, and some have three, they are still only entitled to a total of one vote for that position, resulting in fractional votes. The two situations with the paper ballots illustrate how every voting method can have flaws, errors and even voter fraud (though I am not alleging that voter fraud occurred at this SCC meeting). Our Vice-Chairwoman, Leslie Parker, also had two issues with her credentials. The first occurred when she registered – the credentials which were mailed to us before the meeting would not register when scanned in. She had to be issued a new set of credentials. Later on, during lunch, her credentials tore off the lanyard we were given to keep our credentials around our necks. Again, she had to be issued a new set of credentials by the Credential Committee. Which was fine until she went to vote in Round 2, when the Teller Committee questioned her new credentials. She was, however, finally allowed to vote.
After the explanation of the ballot discrepancy, the Chairman to initiate the balloting for Round 2 of the Vice-Chair position. However, candidate Stu Asay asked to be recognized and declared he was recusing himself from the election. He then requested that his supporters vote for Hope Scheppelman in Round 2. Then candidate Aaron Wood asked to be recognized and he, too, declared he was recusing himself from the election. And he also requested that his supporters vote for Hope Scheppelman in Round 2. These two events again caused quite a stir. At any rate, the Chairman proceeded to open balloting. As noted previously, additional safeguards were put in place for the second round of balloting. The drop boxes were reduced to three. After members filled out their ballots, they again lined up to deposit their ballots in the glass drop boxes. Before the ballots could be dropped in the box, members had to state the county they represented and display their printed credentials. After your name was checked off a list of credentialed members, you dropped your ballot in the glass box. Then you had to repeat this process for each vote you carried if you were carrying proxy votes. Again, your credentials were then marked with a paste-on paper dot. Though it was hot pink for this round. Teller committee members kept a running tally of each vote that was dropped into the glass boxes. This was done to try to prevent any problems with tallying the votes. It was quite a process. The results of Round 2 were:
Round 2- Election for Vice-Chairman
171.83 Votes Needed to Win
Aaron Wood-Recused himself
Stu Asay-Recused himself
Hope Scheppelman was elected as the new Vice-Chairwoman for the Colorado GOP. There seemed to be a strong sense at the meeting that there needed to be representation on the State Executive Committee from rural Colorado and not let so much power be based out of El Paso County. Hope also pushed unity in the party while Todd Watkins was promoting getting rid of RINOs and “Establishment Republicans” that weren’t part of the “Grassroots”.
While the Teller Committee tabulated the votes for Round 2, the Chairman began debate on the proposed amendments to the bylaws. These amendments were printed on a ballot and given to the SCC members when they were credentialed in. However, the Chairman chose to conduct voting by standing vote. The Amendments appeared on the ballot, as follows:
Amendment 1 - ARTICLE XIII: ASSEMBLIES AND CONVENTIONS
(Binds RNC delegates to declared candidate (for two rounds of voting.) Qualified candidates can nominate a slate of delegates.
Amendment 2 - ARTICLE XV: CONTROVERSIES Section C.
Other Controversies (Concerning the “Regularity of the Organization”.)
Amendment 3 - ARTICLE IX: EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE
(Regarding expanding the number of CRC voting members to be appointed to the Executive Committee.)
Amendment 4 - ARTICLE X; COMMITTEES
(Reduces size of Independent Expenditure Committee and adds clarification.)
Amendment 5 - ARTICLE IV: MEMBERSHIP
2. The nonvoting members shall be (Update and correction to article reference.)
Amendment 6 - ARTICLE V: OFFICERS - (Clarifies CRC Chairman is not member (or ex officio member) of Independent Expenditure Committee.
Amendment 7 - ARTICLE VIII (VOTING AND PROXIES)
(Section E. Regarding the value of the votes for non-attending /non-participating members for the Sept. Opt-Out meeting.)
After considerable debate on Amendment 1, the Chairman took the vote. A lot of people stood for the YES vote, then a lot of people stood for the NO vote. It was not apparent to me that there was a 2/3 majority for adopting Amendment 1. However, the Chairman declared that Amendment 1 had passed. After the vote on Amendment 1, a member moved that further votes be taken by roll call vote. The Chairman responded that this motion requires the support of 45 or more members. The debate and voting on the remaining amendments proceeded. The votes on the remaining amendments were as follows:
Amendment 2 – Passed.
Amendment 3 – Referred back to the Bylaws Committee.
Amendment 4 – Passed.
Amendment 5 – Passed.
Amendment 6 – Passed.
Amendment 7 – The member who made the motion to conduct the voting by roll call vote returned and made the motion, with a petition signed by more than 45 members. The motion to conduct the vote by roll call was voted on and passed.
Amendment 7 was the most significant amendment that was proposed. In fact, Chairman Williams felt so strongly about it, then he recused himself as Chairman and handed the gavel to the Chairman Pro Tem, who was the Treasurer Tom Bjorklund. This was so he could participate in the debate. The exact language of this bylaw change is “ARTICLE VIII: VOTING AND PROXIES, Section E. Super Majority Balloting and Voting to the following Where a state statute requires an approval of at least 70% or more of the total membership of the party’s state central committee to approve an action, the failure to submit a ballot by a CRC voting member shall be deemed, for all purposes, to be a vote in the affirmative on the proposed action.” This bylaw change, which was also called the Bonniwell amendment after its author Chuck Bonniwell of Adams County was intended to allow the Republican Party to more easily pass an Opt-out measure of the 2024 Colorado Republican Primary. The current State Statute concerning the nomination of candidates is C.R.S. 1-4-702 Nominations of Candidates for general election by convention. This statute became law following passage of citizen initiative Proposition 108, in the November 8, 2016 General Election. The initiative passed 53 – 47%. Proposition 108 allows unaffiliated voters to vote in the primary election of a major political party without declaring an affiliation with that political party and to permit a political party, in some circumstances, to select candidates by committee or convention, rather than through a primary election. The selection of candidates through committee or convention is referred to as Opting-out of the Primary Election. Statute 1-4-702 requires 75% of the total membership of the state central committee to vote to use the assembly or convention nomination process. To Opt-out of the primary and select our candidates by the state assembly convention would require approximately 329 yes votes. The Republican Party has considered Opting-out of the Primary in every election, three times, since Proposition 108 was passed in 2016. The last time it was voted on was at the September 18, 2021 SCC meeting in Pueblo.
The meeting rules that were adopted for the meeting limited debate on any issue or question to twenty minutes. A number of amendments to Amendment 7 were proposed and considerable time was spent debating these amendments. In fact, the time allotted for debate expired before we really got a chance to debate Amendment 7. I was one who had stood in line waiting to get a chance to offer two arguments. However, after considerable outcry the Chairman Pro Tem, Tom Bjorklund, agreed to extend debate for five additional minutes. I was able to make the two points I believe were important. Those points were, 1) To counter the argument that the Republican Party cannot get 75% of their membership at the SCC meetings, I argued that at the 2021 SCC meeting in Pueblo, 441 members were present or represented by proxy. This represented 84% of the entire membership. (Proving that we can get over 75% of the membership at the SCC meetings. A previous speaker noted we had 84% attendance at this meeting). And while the vote to Opt-out failed 56 to 44% in 2021, a vote was taken to initiate the lawsuit and it passed unanimously. (Proving that we can pass a measure requiring 75%, if the arguments for passage are sufficiently compelling. 2) While the judge, in the first lawsuit that was filed, challenging the constitutionality of Prop 108, did suggest that the Colorado Republican Party change their bylaws. Here is what he actually said, “The CRP is free to select a closed nomination process, and it is free to amend its Bylaws to encourage or require greater participation in its meeting for selecting the nomination method.” Other arguments were also given, both for and against. At times it was fairly heated. Finally, the Chairman Pro Tem called for a Roll Call vote. But it is not the type of roll call you are probably imagining.
The Roll Call Vote was taken in this way. All the members broke out into their county parties. Then the County Chairman for each county polled each county member, noting the number of Yeas and Nays. After the polling by county was completed, the County Chairs moved to the front of the auditorium and lined up alphabetically by county. State and Congressional legislators were polled first and their numbers were added to each county total. The Chairman Pro Tem then polled each County Chair, who gave the number of Yeas and the number of Nays. After the polling was completed, the results were announced. Those results were:
2023 State Central Committee (SCC)--Results of the August 5, 2023 Special Meeting
Voting members of the State Central Committee
Members present or represented by proxy at the meeting
Votes required Pass Amendment 7 (2/3 of the members present)
Total votes cast in the Amendment 7 vote; % of members present. *
Votes cast in Favor of Adopting Amendment 7
Votes cast Against Adopting Amendment 7
Members Actually Present at the meeting
Members represented by proxy
* Note, a number of members who credentialed in left before the vote on Amendment 7 was actually taken. Since this was a bylaw change a 67% majority was required for the amendment to pass.
The State Party Chairman was disappointed with the results. He has set the fall meeting for September 30, 2023. He has not given a location yet. There was some speculation, that he would not put the Opt-out on the agenda. But he has come out with an email and he has it listed on the proposed agenda. This will a very big issue at the meeting. I plan to discuss this at our next monthly meeting on September 5, 2023. I also plan to write a blog on the matter before that meeting. In spite of arguing against the proposed Amendment 7, at the August 5th meeting, I support the idea of an Opt-out. However, it will depend on how the Opt-out will be implemented. There are at least two possible scenarios. Those are the issues I will go into in my next blog. I realize this is a lengthy blog, but I felt it was important to go over many of the details of how the meeting was conducted and some of the issues that were encountered. I believe these details are important, if we Opt-out of the State Primary and plan to conduct a county-wide ballot to elect our candidates for the 2024 election. Let me know if you have any questions. Hope to see you at the September 5th monthly meeting.
Chairman, Delta County Republican Central Committee
PS –Remember you can donate to the Delta County Republican Central Committee, by going to our website https://www.deltacoloradogop.com Since we won’t have the Headquarters open for most of this year, donations are critical in helping build up our bank account so we have funds for supporting our candidates in the 2024 election. An individual donation of $20 is a great small donation. You can also donate in person at our monthly meeting. Our next scheduled meeting is Tuesday September 5, 2023 at the Surface Creek Community Church in Austin. Hope to see you there! Thank you! db