Written by Qadoshyah Fish
The following is my recount of what happened at the Oklahoma State Convention on May 12th. I just recently became very active in the Republican Party due to the influence of Ron Paul and realize there is much that we can do to help the Party. What I saw the State Convention was eye-opening, to say the least, and confirmed to me all the more that I need to stay actively involved, because there are some serious issues which need to be fixed in our party. And our nation.
I arrived at the Convention around 6:45am to help with the Ron Paul grassroots efforts. Some of the crew with me was also helping with registration.
Registration closed at 9am and the registration room was empty by 9:30am. We had multiple Ron Paul supporters helping with registration.
There was a Ron Paul table where our people were checking in so we would know who was here. The line was so long for our table, that it went all the way to the door and wrapped around. We had to have multiple Ron Paul supporters going through the line taking names and bringing them back to the computer, so our line would move faster.
Delegates were all seated around 11am, but due to multiple problems with the credentials report, the convention had to be delayed. Around 12pm, we still were not even close to being able to vote on a credentials report. At this time, it was suggested that lunch be around 1pm (which was later than originally scheduled). I believe it was 1:30pm before we held a vote on the credentials report. At this time, there were approximately 1,200 delegates according to the credentials report. After this reading of the credentials report, the OK GOP said that there were 22 delegates from 6 counties that needed to be added, due to a mess up on the part of the county. A vote was taken as to whether we should allow these changes to be made. Many of us, Ron Paul supporters, opposed it, although there was some confusion on this, but ultimately it did pass. When the new counts came back in, there ended up being over 200 people who were added to the delegate total. Points of Order were made regarding this. These points of order and concern were dismissed. No motion was ever made to properly amend the credentials report, and therefore, officially, they were not. Nor was the original credentials report accurate.
During this time, a Minority Rules Report was brought up for discussion. The temporary chair decided not to hear the Minority Report, even though according to the rules it must be heard before the Rules report and voted on. When the temporary chair refused to hear the Minority Report, Jake Peters (with approval from the temporary chair), decided to motion for an amendment to the rules to allow multiple slates to be voted on at the same time. According to the proposed convention rules, the slate chosen by the Executive Committee must be voted up or down before any nominations for individual delegates or slates of delegates from the floor can be taken. This amendment was not passed, because there was intense argument for the Executive Committee slate.
The “Establishment Republicans” from a few counties had set up multiple delegates around the room with red and green placards with “Yes” and “No” written on them to hold up during votes. They did this to try to throw “our” (Ron Paul) people off and confuse us. Steve Dickson, one of our grassroots leaders, suggested that the placards did not follow the rules (placards are not allowed according to the rules) and asked if they could not be held up because it was causing confusion (there were A LOT of them). This was agreed upon and most of the placards were not used (except for a few who didn’t want to follow the convention rules). Signaling was allowed, so we (Ron Paul supporters) had leaders from each county who were holding a thumbs-up or thumbs-down depending on how we needed to vote. If someone wasn’t sure if they could be seen, they stood on a chair.
We finally recessed from 2:30pm to 3:00pm for lunch, with still no official credentials report, no vote for chairman, and no vote on the rules. We kept the name of our slate, The Conservative Values Slate, who was on it and what it looked like strictly confidential. Only 12 people knew those details, until we distributed the slate at recess. We put 1500 copies of the slate out on the chairs and also made sure our people had the slate. We had designed the slate to appeal to those who are conservatives and not full on Romney supporters. Because that’s what it is truly about – a true Conservative (what a Republican is supposed to be). But, by this point in the day, there seemed to be a big agenda against us, as Ron Paul supporters.
Sometime between 3:30 and 4pm, the credentials report was finally “done, “even though it was never officially amended (not vote was ever taken again) or accurate. It was around 4pm when we finally officially elected the convention chair – Marc Nuttle. Steve Dickson nominated Mr. Nuttle. We were trying to make friends where we could and not make enemies every step of the way, which is why we nominated Mr. Nuttle. He was elected as convention chair. The rules were then voted on (Ron Paul supporters voted “no” to the rules) and they passed.
We had been promised time and again by the OK GOP State Chair, Matt Pinnell, that this convention would be run fair and transparent. According to how things were supposed to go (we had been promised the convention would go this way), the voting on National Committeeman and National Committeewoman was supposed to be BEFORE voting on the slate of delegates. This was supposed to happen before lunch break, but because the OK GOP messed the credentials up so bad, it caused all sorts of problems.
After 4pm, when we elected the convention chair, Matt Pinnell motioned to have voting on the slate of delegates moved up ahead of the National Committeeman and National Committeewoman, thus changing the order of business. This motion was adopted by the chairman without any proper vote to alter the order of business. To do this according to the rules, a vote should have been taken on changing the order of business, but there was no vote taken.
The slate of delegates put together by the OK GOP Executive Committee was voted on. The chairman voted on the slate by a voice vote and standing vote. This was completely against the rules. State Party Rule 18(d) clearly requires that delegates-at-large and alternates-at-large be elected by roll call vote at the State Convention. This rule was flagrantly disregarded by the chairman. There was no vote on an appeal of the decision. Rather, when Brady Wright, who is one of our grassroots leaders, raised the point of order immediately after the chair was going to move to the next item of business, he was told that the convention rules allowed for it. Brady then went to find the exact state rule which states this, so he could bring this back up before the Convention adjourned.
At this point, I could not believe what had just happened. On the biggest vote of the day, the OK GOP completely disregarded the rules and decided to not follow them. Myself, along with our grassroots leaders, Brady Wright, Steve Dickson and Lukus Collins, came up with a game plan to have the executive committee slate of delegates and alternates be voted on correctly by a roll call vote before the convention was adjourned.
After the faulty election of delegates and alternates, the National Committeeman race was conducted. Richard Engle was one of the two men running for this position and he is also a Ron Paul supporter. Steve Fair was the other man running. The amount of delegates Richard Engle had who gathered at the front of the convention to show their support for him, was so much more than Steve Fair. Richard won the popular vote with 60% from what I have heard. But, when the weighted votes were done, Steve Fair won by just 2%.
The National Committeewoman was unopposed. While she is not a Ron Paul supporter, we did support her, as there was no reason to vote against her.
At this point, there was a complaint that was to be heard regarding the Oklahoma District 1 Convention, which had many rule violations. I, as well as many other Ron Paul supporters, were in a state committee meeting on Friday afternoon. At that meeting it was promised by Matt Pinnell, that the District 1 Complaint would be heard by the delegate body on Saturday, and this was supposed to happen according to the rules. According to the rules the body of delegates at the State Convention have the responsibility to hear a matter such as this and vote on it.
When Jake Peters brought this complaint to the floor, it was rushed through and not heard as promised. And, I believe it was Matt Pinnell who motioned to Table the complaint and have it be heard by the State Committee. It had been decided the day before in the State Committee meeting that the State Committee was not suited to hear this complaint and the delegate body were the ones who needed to hear it. The motion to table was voted on by voice, and was very close. There was a call for division (standing vote) but this was ignored by the chair, contrary to Robert’s Rules.
Matt Pinnell said that we only had until 5pm to finish conducting the convention business. It was almost 5pm at this point, which was when they decided not to let the District 1 complaint be heard. At 5pm, the hotel staff started to close the walls of the convention on 1/3 of the delegates, including Tulsa County, which has a very large delegation. This was prior to when the convention was adjourned. We found out that the hotel staff had been instructed by the OK GOP to close the walls at 5pm, no matter what. Therefore 1/3 of the delegates were completely disregarded from voting on the District 1 complaint, and they were unable to vote to adjourn the meeting. It was a shame.
Prior to adjournment, Brady Wright had the specific state rule in-hand in regards to the election of delegates, and raised the point of order that the business of the convention regarding the election of delegates and alternates had not yet been properly transacted. When this was turned down, Brady appealed the decision of the chair and was ignored, in violation of Robert’s Rules.
There was division called and of course the point of order from Brady Wright on the election of the delegates. When the chair refused to hear this, the chair entertained a motion to adjourn. It does not appear that there was anything in the convention rules which mandated that the convention had to be adjourned by 5pm. Rather, the adjournment was moved from the floor. The voice vote clearly failed. Then a standing vote was called, incredibly, while the room dividers completely blocked the view from the stage of the third of the hall where Tulsa and other counties were seated. If you review the video, you will see that from those who WERE visible, the motion to adjourn failed to attain a clear majority. Thus the convention was not properly adjourned at that time.
At this point, Brady Wright was able to speak into the microphone still and tell the entire delegate body the Convention is continuing in the parking lot and anyone is welcome to join him. Brady is our hero of the day. He took charge, walked outside to the side of the Convention hall and waited for everyone to make it out there to join him.
Once we, the delegates, were outside continuing the Convention, we had to pass a new credentials report, because it had never been done properly in the first place. We went through all 77 counties and approved the credentials report. We let the Minority Rules Report be heard and it passed. Jake Peters, who was acting as our temporary chair was elected as the convention chair.
We then proceeded to have the National Committeeman and National Committeewoman races, as the convention order of business dictated. Richard Engle won the National Committeeman rance. The National Committeewoman, Carolyn McClarty, who was unopposed also won.
The next order of business was to hold the vote for the election of the delegate slates. Because we heard the Minority Rules Report and that had been passed as the Rules of the Convention, the executive committee slate was able to be voted on at the same time as any other slates. Our slate was The Conservative Values Slate. We voted for slates “A” and “B” on ballots so that the election of the delegates would be done according to the rules, by a roll call vote. The Conservative Values Slate delegates won. We then voted on the slates of alternates. Again the Conservative Values Slate alternates won.
The next item of business was the District 1 Convention complaint. Jake Peters, being from the district in question, recused himself from being chair, and Lukus Collins was nominated and served as temporary chair while Jake Peters gave the complaint. The complaint was heard and the delegate body moved and approved that the District 1 Convention needed to be reconvened sometime before 45 days prior to the Republican National Convention.
The Platform report had to be approved. There were a few amendments which were heard, approved and ultimately the Platform was adopted.
There had been an amendment to change Oklahoma to a Caucus state, which was supposed to be heard by the Convention inside and it was not done. Therefore this was heard in the continuation of the convention outside. It did not pass for various reasons.
A motion was made by Trina Burfield to put a complaint together regarding the OK GOP and their Fund for Mitt Romney who is not yet the nominee. This was passed.
Finally, after 5 hours outside, the convention was adjourned properly. We got all the order of business for the Convention completed.
It was incredibly inspiring to be there with all the Ron Paul supporters and delegates Saturday. We were all tired, starving and standing outside for hours with the threat of storms, yet we persevered. It’s about following the rules. It’s about doing things right. We could’ve just railroaded through the continuation of the Convention outside, because we “knew” how the results would be. But, we did not. We conducted all the order of business. The entire convention, from when it started inside that morning, until it was properly adjourned around 10pm was livestreamed. At the peak there were 2,000 people watching Oklahoma’s convention from around the world. We had so much support, that Pizza was ordered and delivered from the people watching what was happening on the livestream.
Now, the OK GOP has a challenge against them regarding their election of delegates. The press release for that and the challenge from the attorneys to the OK GOP can be viewed here.