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“Point of Order!”

Here are two of the most egregious violations of Republicans’ Rights which occurred at the State Party meeting

The Winter meeting of the Republican Party of Arkansas’s State Committee took place this past Saturday, December 2, 2023.

As usual, it seemed that no one involved in running the meeting had ever cracked Robert’s Rules of Order, let alone understood its meaning and purpose.

Why do we have Rules?

Robert’s Rules of Order states clearly (on page [xlix], “Principles Underlying Parliamentary Law”) that having well-defined, equally applied, and closely followed rules protects the rights, of:

1) The majority;

2) A significant minority (greater than 1/3);

3) Individual Members; and

4) Absentees

In short, our Party has Rules (and Robert’s Rules to fill in the panoply of gaps in the Rules) in order to protect the rights of Republicans in Arkansas.

So, with that said, here are two of the most egregious violations of Republicans’ Rights which occurred at the State Party meeting:

#1 – The first and most impactful violation of Republicans’ rights occurred with the adoption of the State Budget. The projected spending listed on the budget sheet was ~$680,000. However, the Party has not spent less than $900k in any of the last six years. They spent $2.2 million in the 2018 election year, $4.7 million in 2020, and have spent almost $3.4 million in the first half of this year, alone. For some reason, these spending numbers were not shared with the State Committee – which is responsible for approving the budget – but the State Executive Committee (which spends the money and supervises the Budget Committee) does have them.

According to RPA Rules, Article 1, Section 3, Paragraph 2B, the budget is to include, “…all estimated… expenditures…” It should be immediately apparent to anyone with access to the data that projected spending for 2024 (a hotly contested election year) will be at least $2 million, and likely much closer to $5 million.

The Budget Committee is given ongoing oversight of the Party’s budget (and only the budget – Article 1, Section 3, Paragraph B3), which is why said budget is supposed to include “all” projected funds and expenditures. In other words, only 15-60% of our Party’s actual spending is accounted for in the budget (depending on the year), and therefore the vast majority of Party spending has taken place without oversight, in violation of RPA Rules. The 2024 budget is in keeping with that trend.

Adoption of this non-compliant budget on Saturday violated the rights of all absentee members of the Party – including all registered Republicans in the State of Arkansas, and all Members of all Committees at every level. These roughly half-a-million Arkansas Republicans have the right to expect the RPA Rules to be followed in their absence.

It was brought to the attention of the Chair that a motion to adopt the budget as written was Out of Order, as it openly violated RPA Rules. If the Chair wished to put said motion before the assembly, he would first need to entertain a motion to Suspend the Rules (Article IV, Section 10, Paragraph B), which would only pass with a 9/10 vote. The Chair, however — with support from other members of the Executive Committee, and Staff— decided to ignore this requirement and proceed directly with adopting the budget.

In other words, they acted in violation of Party Rules in full knowledge that they were doing so, and bypassed the 9/10 vote which is supposed to be our safeguard against such an act.

#2 – Another violation occurred during consideration of Amendments to the Rules: the assembly was denied consideration of Rules change proposals #3 and #4. This decision was made by majority vote, after a significant period of illegal debate.

An “Objection to Consideration of the Question” is an act which deprives the assembly of its most fundamental right – to take up and debate any question it chooses. As with all motions that override member rights, it requires a 2/3 vote. According to Roberts, an “Objection to Consideration of the Question” should only be made in extreme circumstances, when even beginning discussion of the issue in question is seen as potentially damaging to the organization. For this reason, such a motion is undebatable, because avoiding discussion is the point. The vote must be taken immediately, and if it fails to meet the 2/3 threshold, the question can then be taken up and debated in the ordinary fashion.

The right to debate and consider questions is the most fundamental tool in representative political bodies. This violation of parliamentary law denied that right to the ~200 members in the room, and by extension, to all those they represent.

In this second case, it is not certain that following the correct procedure would have led to a different outcome, but it is certain that the outcome which was achieved through violating the Rules was the outcome sought by those who were violating them. The Chair and the Executive Committee cannot claim ignorance of these violations, as repeated Points of Order were made in each case.

One may speculate as to the motives in ignoring these Points of Order, but I hope that the desire for truth and justice in the sight of God will inspire the State Executive Committee of the Republican Party of Arkansas to righteous behavior in the future.

And let them also recall that they derive their power from the same Rules which they are attempting to undermine. If the Rules have no authority, then neither does our Executive Committee.

— Margot Herzl

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