Thursday, February 2, 2012

RNC Race Developments

Today there have been many developments regarding Maryland’s future representation on the Republican National Committee.

First, Louis Pope, Maryland’s somnolent Republican National Committeeman, has his first challenger in Anne Arundel County Central Committee Member Scott Shaffer. Shaffer sent out a press release today to the State Central Committee in which he states: “Like the movie Groundhog Day, the Maryland Republican Party keeps repeating itself over and over:  same strategies, same tactics, same candidates, same results,” said Shaffer.  “If we want a different outcome, then we need new ideas and new blood.” 

I think Shaffer’s entrance into the race is a welcome development. I reached out to him, and hope to interview him for a future blog segment over the next week or so.

Second, fellow GOP blogger Brian Griffiths, who’s also Northeastern Vice Chairman of the Young Republican National Federation (YRNF), blogged this item on Red Maryland in which he takes RNC National Committeewoman candidate Nicolee Ambrose to task for using YRNF letterhead in announcing her candidacy to the State Central Committee.

I don’t know Griffiths well, but I think he’s a good writer and a potential future leader for the party.

In this instance, however, it seems he is playing a contrived, catty game of gotcha with longtime foe Ambrose, whom he once dismissed as “Nasty Nicolee” in a blog entry.

Ambrose served as YRNF national chairman from 2005 – 2007. When she left office, Griffiths reports that she was granted the title “Chairman Emeritus” by a vote of the 800 attendees of the YRNF national convention “held in New Orleans.” (BTW, I checked with Ambrose on this point. She stated that the convention actually occurred in Hollywood, Florida. What’s more, as the event predated Griffiths' own involvement with the YRNF, he wasn’t there.)

Anyway, using the title she was fairly awarded – Ambrose is entitled to until she turns 40 – on the organization’s stationery seems like a no-brainer to me. I suspect most of the 99.99999+ percent of the population not privy to these kind of intramural, obscure, YR backroom squabbles would agree.

Lastly, I spoke with one-time Delegate and Baltimore County GOP Chairman and current Brinkley for Congress spokesman Don Murphy about National Committeewoman candidate Audrey Scott’s role with the Brinkley campaign.

In an earlier blog posting, I pointed out that Mrs. Scott – roundly criticized for waiving the party’s Rule 11 requirement preventing the party from offering candidates pre-primary support – is now working to defeat the state’s senior GOP Congressman, Roscoe Bartlett, while she campaigns for high party office.

"David Brinkley represents our best shot at retaining the 6th District. He is the only Republican who can keep the seat," Mrs. Scott stated in a comment posted on Senator Brinkley’s website.

This is not the first time Mrs. Scott has awkwardly meandered into a competitive primary battle recently.

Mrs. Scott’s son Lawrence, a political consultant known for his rough and tumble tactics, was working for Mr. Douglas then, and he’s working for Senator Brinkley now.

When I first inquired about Mrs. Scott’s status with the Brinkley campaign via a Facebook exchange with Murphy on January 9th, he responded definitively: “Audrey will be helping with fundraising on a contractual basis.”

To me, the term “contractual” means she’s getting paid – something which would violates the spirit if not the letter of the MD GOP’s own bylaws.

Article 5, Section 5, Subsection a(4) states:

“No officer of the Party shall receive remuneration for campaign-related services from any candidate in a contested primary election for public office within the State of Maryland.”
Now, it is true that Mrs. Scott has not been elected National Committeewoman, so the party’s bylaws do not technically apply to her. However, that does not mean that, as a candidate, she shouldn’t be living up to the standards she would have to adhere to as an incumbent, anyway.

When I talked to Murphy today, he said that Mrs. Scott was not a salaried employee, but that she was working with Lawrence and earning a “percentage” of what she raised.

When I asked Murphy what Mrs. Scott’s title was – I’ve heard her informally called “Brinkley’s Finance Director” before – he responded cryptically: “Not sure she has one…Actually, I’m pretty sure she doesn’t. I have seen her at one mtg.”

Translation: She is around, doing something.

“We are thrilled to have her support,” he continued. “And it doesn’t disqualify her from running for National Committeewoman.”

Five hours after we hung up the phone, and just as I was about to sit down and begin writing this blog entry, Murphy backpedaled.

“Just got off the phone with LScott,” he wrote via text. “There is NO Contract with AScott to raise $ for DB. She is NOT being paid as per our previous conversation…There were others who offered to do the same for a percentage and I assumed a similar arrangement was made. Sorry for the false impression.”

Well, it wasn’t an impression inasmuch as it was a clear-cut, definitive statement, twice repeated.

What’s more, Murphy’s not the only person to tell me that Mrs. Scott is being paid in her quest to beat the state’s senior congressman.

(UPDATE: Since I originally posted this, I have heard from a total of two Bartlett loyalists from two Western Maryland counties, each reporting that Mrs. Scott's on-payroll status with the Brinkley campaign is widely regarded to be true.)  

So, I’m not entirely sure what’s going on here. I presume that, minimally, Lawrence is being compensated for his work, but I guess we'll know when the next campaign finance reports come out in March.

Ironically, while this aspiring RNC member is working to defeat a twenty-year Republican congressman, another DC-based GOP organization, the National Republican Congressional Committee, is working to save him.

Now, I understand that many activists believe that the party’s best shot of keeping the seat rests with a candidate other than an 85-year-old incumbent. While that may be true, it is perhaps irrelevant. With so many challengers competing in the battle royale that is the Sixth District GOP congressional primary, Bartlett is an odds-on favorite to be renominated.

I just believe that while you’re working to beat the state’s senior Republican congressman, you forfeit your right to run for party office.

Doing both smacks of smash and grab opportunism, especially on the part of someone who was against Rule 11 before she was for it.

Minimally, Mrs. Scott should explain her rationale to the members of the State Central Committee who will be determining the fate of her candidacy. She attempts to do so in this letter to The Gazette newspaper, although it is appropriate to note that her letter contains two factual errors: Bartlett is not 86 (his birthday is in June) and he never publicly "indicated" that he was stepping down.

Still, I don’t understand why Mrs. Scott just did not disclose her role in the Brinkley campaign at the outset, in her announcement of candidacy. In light of her 40 years of party activism, she had to know that working to beat Bartlett and running for National Committeewoman simultaneously would ruffle some feathers.

Then again, I’m not sure why she didn’t disclose her business relationship with cement manufacturer Chaney Enterprises in her message justifying her participation in the gas tax rally.

But, again, I digress.

Anyway, let’s hope she shares her vision of the party’s future, rather than reminding us of her accomplishments. That’s the disclosure which matters the most.

1 comment:

  1. If you're going for accuracy then it would have been called the 2007 YRNC in Hollywood, FL. YRNF is the organization and YRNC is the event. There was a board meeting in 2007 in New Orleans before the Hollywood event. My foggy recollection is that you're correct saying the approval was granted at YRNC. It all seems like splitting hairs to me, orignial complaint and complaint follow-up.