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Morton Blackwell, Virginia’s Republican National Committeeman, Calls for RNC to Undo Rule Changes Made at 2012 Convention
Morton Blackwell, Virginia’s Republican National Committeeman, has urged that The Rules of the Republican Party be amended at the party’s meeting this week in open letters to Chairman Reince Preibus, Secretary Demetra DeMonte, and fellow Republican National Committee (RNC) members.
The amendment would return the Party’s rules to those passed unanimously by the Republican National Committee at the 2012 Republican convention — undoing changes made by the Convention Rules Committee in Tampa to centralize power in the RNC. Those changes included an increase in the number of states a presidential candidate must win to have his or her name formally placed in nomination before the convention.
Mr. Blackwell and prominent conservatives, including Mark Levin and Michelle Malkin, previously criticized the 2012 rule changes as a “power grab.” The efforts were led by Ben Ginsberg, a Convention Rules Committee member from D.C. who represented himself as the spokesman for the Romney campaign at the convention.
“Instead of further centralizing the Republican Party, we should welcome newcomers and treat them fairly, politely, and cordially,” Mr. Blackwell wrote in his letter to RNC members. “I know that, if passed, my motion to ‘de-Ginsberg’ our party rules will be greeted enthusiastically by newcomers we want to join us in our efforts to defeat the plans President Obama and his leftist allies are wreaking on our country.”
Mr. Blackwell was first elected as Virginia’s Republican National Committeeman in 1988. He serves on the RNC’s Standing Committee on Rules and has attended every meeting of the Republican National Conventions’ Rules Committees since 1972.
To schedule interviews with Mr. Blackwell, please contact Cathy Graham at (703) 247-2000 or email@example.com.
The text of Morton Blackwell’s January 20 letter to all RNC members:
Dear RNC Colleague,
On January 13, I submitted to our Chairman and our Secretary the below motion to amend The Rules of the Republican Party.
In the years before our 2012 Republican National Convention, the RNC’s Standing Committee on Rules (one member per state and territory) met to consider possible changes to The Rules of the Republican Party each time the RNC met. That Committee, one third of our RNC members, worked diligently, debated carefully every proposed amendment, reviewed its years of work at its meeting in Tampa, and adopted a report to send to the whole RNC for its consideration.
Some of the proposed rules changes incorporated in the report of the Standing Committee on Rules were intended to open additional channels by which power in the RNC could flow more easily from the bottom up. The deliberations of the Standing Committee were productive. Acting independently, members of the Standing Committee generally agreed that it’s a good idea to increase the opportunities for power at the RNC to flow from the bottom up.
The report of the Standing Committee on Rules was presented to the full RNC, which frequently in the past has exercised its right to amend its Standing Committee’s report before sending it on to the Convention Rules Committee for consideration. Then the Convention Rules Committee’s report is submitted to the national convention for its consideration.
In 2012, the RNC opted not to amend the report of its Standing Committee on Rules, which was not considered very controversial in the Standing Committee or in the full RNC. So the Republican National Committee unanimously approved its Standing Committee report and forwarded that report to the Convention Rules Committee.
The next day, in the Convention Rules Committee, Ben Ginsberg, a Convention Rules Committee member from D.C., representing himself as the spokesman for the Romney campaign, began to propose amendments to the report from the RNC. First, he systematically submitted amendments to reverse the few and useful changes adopted by the Standing Committee and the full RNC to open up slightly the flow of power from the bottom up in the RNC. Then he supported a number of brand new amendments to increase the centralization of power in the RNC.
Although some members of the Convention Rules Committee strongly objected to Ben Ginsberg’s obviously centralizing power grabs, most members of that committee went along with everything he wanted. After all, he was presumed to be speaking for the candidate we were about to nominate for President.
You will recall, however, the immense, immediate outrage at the convention and from the grassroots against the Ginsberg power grabs. The national convention’s consideration of the Convention Rules Committee report was a uniquely ugly scene. What Ben Ginsberg did was particularly foolish because none of the changes he pushed would in any way help us win the coming presidential election. All he accomplished regarding the 2012 election was to make grassroots conservatives fiercely angry at the Romney campaign. Of course, if Mitt Romney had been elected in November, there was no chance at all that he would have trouble with the Republican National Committee. No Republican President fails to get exactly what he wants from the RNC. In sum, the power grabs were a stupid move, and our Party is still suffering the consequences.
Grassroots conservatives and libertarians have and use many social media networks. They can communicate instantly and for free. Since the national convention and to this day, there is vigorous condemnation of our national Party for Ginsberg’s power grabs, which eliminated non-controversial reforms and deliberately (and unnecessarily) centralized our party even more. A lot of this criticism is directed personally at Reince Priebus.
This criticism of our party and our chairman makes it much harder to do what we have to do, which is to attract more newcomers and build a superior grassroots election organization for 2014 and beyond.
Instead of further centralizing the Republican Party, we should welcome newcomers and treat them fairly, politely, and cordially. What good is it to centralize power if doing so prevents us from recruiting new grassroots activists to our Party and building an organization which can win future elections?
I happen to train thousands of conservative newcomers every year for success in politics. I know that, if passed, my motion to “de-Ginsberg” our party rules will be greeted enthusiastically by newcomers we want to join us in our efforts to defeat the plans President Obama and his leftist allies are wreaking on our country.
A record vote on my motion would let everyone know where each of us stands on this matter.
Virginia Republican National Committeeman
The text of Morton Blackwell’s January 13 letter to Reince Priebus, RNC chairman, and Demetra DeMonte, RNC secretary:
Dear Mr. Chairman and Madam Secretary,
Below is a motion I propose for passage to amend The Rules of the Republican Party.
According to Rule 12, such amendments must be submitted with at least ten days notice, be passed by a majority of the RNC Standing Committee on Rules, and be passed by a ¾ vote of all the members of the Republican National Committee. I ask for consideration of my motion to amend at our coming meeting in Charlotte, North Carolina.
In sum, my amendment would, with the exception of the new Rule 12 (which the RNC may not amend), restore our Rules to the text which was proposed after years of deliberation by the RNC Standing Committee on Rules and then unanimously approved in Tampa by the Republican National Committee.
Here is Rule 12:
The Republican National Committee may, by three-fourths (3/4) vote of its entire membership, amend Rule Nos. 1-11 and 13-25. Any such amendment shall be considered by the Republican National Committee only if it was passed by a majority vote of the Standing Committee on Rules after having been submitted in writing at least ten (10) days in advance of its consideration by the Republican National Committee and shall take effect thirty (30) days after adoption. No such amendment shall be adopted after September 30, 2014.
Here is the text of my motion to amend the Rules:
“Pursuant to Rule 12, Rules 1-11 and 13-25 of the Republican National Committee are hereby amended to be the Rules adopted by the 2008 Republican National Convention, as subsequently amended by the Republican National Committee pursuant to Rule 10(d), and further as unanimously recommended on August 23, 2012 by the Republican National Committee, that Rules 1-11 and 13-25 be changed.”
I ask that the RNC Counsel’s Office prepare for distribution to all RNC members the text of The Rules of the Republican Party, with the appropriate re-numbering of the Rules, as those Rules would read if my motion should pass. This would assist discussion.
Morton C. Blackwell
Virginia Republican National Committeeman