Monday, October 20, 2014
The Purge Begins: Official GOP Group Tells Critical Republicans To Join The Democrats
Update: The leadership of the BAYRs, Kristen Long, has apologized and all is well.
There was some concern, and some rumors floating around, that, if elected Governor, Larry Hogan would attempt to re-align the party for the benefit of himself and his (potential) re-election campaign, partially by cutting out the activists that disagree with his platform. (Which is what again?) I don’t know if Hogan would go down that path, but some of his supporters already have.
So recently I noticed that I had been removed from the Baltimore Area Young Republicans Facebook group. Upon review, the group had announced a policy - no dissent would be tolerated in the group. Any comments that were not positive about Larry Hogan or other candidates would be removed and the commentators banned.
So I posted, again on Facebook, a simple comment in protest, naming Kristen Long specifically, in objection to the policy generally and to being removed without notification. Kristen Long is President of the Baltimore Area YRs (which is subdivided into the city and county) and therefore ultimately responsible for policy decisions of the club. Facebook has a feature to link profiles to names, which will alert the named person. (Incidentally, if you want to use it, put @ and begin typing someone’s name.)
Ms. Long, naturally, objected. But she objected to being named, not to my protest, and defended the policy. The Vice-President of Baltimore County, Michael Russell, who was included in the private messages, then messaged me informing me that they had posted notice in the main group, which was not what I objected to, that negative comments would result in a ban. I was then informed that I was banned from the Facebook group and from the club itself.
The conversation then devolved into silliness. Mr. Russell told me “We do not want to stop you from speaking your mind”, which is plainly ridiculous as that was the whole point. Then I was told I was “not allowed to go negative like Brown”, “We will not allow you to bash someone on our Facebook page that we support”, and that if I didn't agree I could go join the Democrats. This group didn’t exist a year ago, and they already feel confident enough in their organizational prospects to tell people to join the Democrats!
But leaving aside the issue that the club doesn't have the authority to police another member’s speech or opinion, here’s another issue that they stepped in. Here’s the Club Charter’s rules on expulsion:
ARTICLE IV - Disciplinary Measures
Section 1 -- Expulsion
The membership may, having established quorum, expel from the Club by two-thirds vote any member for any act or conduct deemed unfriendly or hostile to the best interests of the Club, provided the Executive Board has reviewed such proposed action and has made a recommendation, and that such member has been notified by certified mail by the Executive Board at least one week prior to the regular meeting. Said member will have the right to present his defense, either by himself or through a representative at that meeting. Expelled members may reapply for membership after two years of expulsion.
Section 2 -- Censure
The membership may, having established quorum, censure from the Club by two-thirds vote any member for any act of conduct deemed unfriendly or hostile to the best interests of the Club, provided the Executive Board has reviewed such proposed action and has made a recommendation, and that such member has been notified by certified mail by the Executive Board at least one week prior to the regular meeting. Said member will have the right to present his defense, either by himself or through a representative at that meeting. Censured members will lose voting privileges, cannot chair committees, and/or will relinquish elected office for the remainder of their elected term.
Section 3 -- Additional measures
Expulsion and censure are the only disciplinary options available to the Executive Board and the general membership.
So in banning me from the club to protect Larry Hogan (and by extension themselves), they violated their own charter.
After speaking with Michael Russell, he claims that the charter was amended when I pointed this out. Previously, I had confirmed Kristen Long that the charter was up-to-date. He now claims that the new, unlisted charter grants the committee the ability to censure and pre-emptively expel non-members without official notification, because the leadership is too busy running for office to send a letter. (Yes, that was his official justification.)
So to review:
We have a formal GOP organization policing the speech of its members
In doing so violated its charter
For the benefit of existing candidates.
Note too that I was not speaking as a member or officer of the club, and merely posting my personal views for public consumption.
I sent this to both Pres. Long and VP Russell, and spoke with VP Russell for about 12 minutes. VP Russell made clear to me that the BAYRs were, in fact, policing member speech and that they were going to prohibit all negative comments, against both Democrats and Republicans. VP Russell also revealed to me that they had not yet actually built the Baltimore YRs into a complete organization as of yet.
I also got further clarification of this policy: As much of the current leadership consists of active candidates for public office, they decided to prohibit speech criticizing active candidates for public office. And that’s not my read of the situation. That’s how VP Russell framed it to me in our telephone conversation.
Finally, I was told that anyone who did not back every Republican candidate including, obviously, YR leadership would be rejected by the Baltimore YRs. This corrupt self-dealing is exactly parallel with how Annapolis Democrats run the state.
So I request the leadership of the BAYRs, specifically Ms. Long and Mr. Russell, take the following steps:
Formally and publicly rescind the policy policing member’s speech on club forums, including, obviously, Facebook.
Publicly apologize for being pro-censorship and anti-speech.
Publicly apologize for violating the club’s charter, and/or for secretly modifying the club charter for the benefit of current leaders.
Officially rescind any expulsions done in violation of the public Club Charter.
Publicly rescind and apologize for the policy that all members support the party over any principles they may have.
Make a public commitment to build the Republican Party and refrain telling, suggesting or implying that members join the other side. (That is build the Democrats.)
Understand that at least half of politics is negative, and that policies that prohibit criticism have no place in public discourse.
Make a public commitment to end the disgusting self-dealing that these policies illustrate.
I also formally request that every Republican candidate and the state party condemn the self-dealing, elitist, exclusionary policy of the Baltimore Young Republicans, and pressure the organization to take the steps outlined above.
Note: Kristen Long is the daughter of Bob Long, who is running for state delegate. I have met Mr. Long, and am confident that he has absolutely nothing to do with these issues. It would be unjust to hold Bob Long responsible for anyone else’s failings.