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As Long as We Remember...

April 7, 2009

The Saga Continues…

Farrell Keough

A sad situation is unfolding in our local Republican Party. I very much cherish and respect our party, and it is due to that regard that I feel it is important to let you know the situation. You can make up your mind as to how you believe this should play out.


Not long after Rick Weldon announced he would not run again for the House of Delegates in District 3B, Michael Hough, (pronounced Huff) declared he would run for that position. Shortly thereafter, Mr. Hough sent out campaign literature which included the support of five members of the Frederick County Republican Central Committee (FCRCC), including their names and titles.


This situation continued unabated until a March 1 letter was sent out by Mr. Hough which included this notation: “[m]any Republicans … and five members of the Frederick County Republican Central Committee are supporting my candidacy…”


These circumstances were brought to my and others attention and we decided to pursue the situation. Having reviewed the bylaws, (or Constitution) of the FCRCC, allowing such endorsements prior to a primary is permitted by a strict reading. But, I would contend, it is not within the spirit of the bylaws – and I am not alone in that assessment.


A number of us emailed the FCRCC and attended a March 19 meeting on this issue. One of the speakers, Sheriff Chuck Jenkins, noted that this was not an issue about the actions of the FCRCC, but rather an issue of personal responsibility for Michael Hough, who also happened to be a member of the central committee. In short, the sheriff noted that Mr. Hough should man up and accept responsibility for his actions and make things right. Two other speakers highlighted their disappointment in the national and local Republican Party. They were mainly concerned that the decisions as to which candidate would be promoted was being made without their input and prior to a primary vote.


No formal decision was made that evening, and the FCRCC determined they would handle this difficult situation at their next meeting. As was pointed out, this is not a new issue and one they have discussed before – not as it applied to Mr. Hough – but in general.


During the waiting period until the next meeting, a number of events took place – including emails to and from local citizens and the FCRCC. Mr. Hough emailed the committee trying to relate Sheriff Jenkins’ campaign literature to his own. While the sheriff noted he was on the FCRCC and at one time was its chairman, he did not include any FCRCC endorsement information prior to his primary election for sheriff.


“As you will recall, I did not point any blame… on any RCC member for their names being included in Hough's letters, as endorsing him in their official capacity. I felt that for Mike to include those endorsements in his letters or literature was wrong on his part and he should stand up and make it right, which in my opinion would speak to his being the bigger person. There is nothing wrong with him admitting he made an error. If, as individuals, other RCC members want to include themselves as endorsing him (without titles), there is nothing wrong with that either.


“It is apparent to me that Mike will not admit he was wrong in his letter and he will not take the appropriate action to correct that error…


“…The RCC has not [done] anything as a body or individual member in this matter to harm or do damage to the party or this primary process… No matter what changes you would decide to make, this will rise again at some point with actions always subject to interpretation. The end game here is that Michael Hough needs to do the right thing and conduct his campaign accordingly.”


A number of us returned to the next meeting, held on April 2. We were informed that this issue would be handled at the end of the meeting and in executive session (behind closed doors). While I can understand the reasoning behind this situation, I asked if this meant our returning to this meeting was moot.


Kelly Schultz, FCRCC president, informed me that our attendance was very helpful; Mr. Hough spoke up and declared he would be fine with this being handled immediately and in open session. A vote was taken and it was decided they would pursue this course of action.


What followed was a most amazing and saddening set of circumstances. Dino Flores, the FCRCC’s legal counsel and fellow member, offered this resolution: “No member of the central committee may take a position as an individual that implies the central committee endorses the individual member's position.” While it did not change the situation, it was well within the bylaws of the FCRCC. Vice President Billy Shreve noted this resolution should be included in the bylaws booklet for future reference.


Then, Mr. Hough made a motion that this entire item be Tabled Indefinitely. No one on the committee understood what this meant. The motion just passed, the 29 motions made by Katie Nash, notwithstanding. Mr. Flores’ legal acumen included an almost immediate and broad understanding of this motion including how it followed Roberts Rules of Order. “If adopted, its effect is to suppress the main motion for that session, unless the vote is reconsidered. As this motion does not suppress the debate on the main question, its only useful effect is to give the opponents of the pending measure a chance of killing the main motion without risking its adoption in case of failure.”


Billy Shreve, obviously upset by this motion, removed himself from the room and abstained from the vote. Dick Cheney also abstained. Ms. Schulz voted against the motion, but the remainder of the committee voted in favor. As stated above, from a section of Roberts Rules of Order, this motion prevents any further discussion of this issue unless a majority of the FCRCC votes to reconsider.


This is where you come in. You have already seen another perspective of this situation. You know my writings and my leanings. While I believe in the 11th Commandment – when a Republican is involved in a situation that potentially harms the party for their own interest, it needs to be addressed.


Section 3 of Article VIII – Miscellaneous states “The Committee shall not endorse nor shall it support financially or in any other manner, any Republican candidate …”


Section 3A of Article VIII – Miscellaneous states “Subject to the provisions of Section 3 (as previously stated above) any endorsement, recommendation, approval or other favorable backing of any candidate … by the Committee shall only be made following a successful motion pursuant to the rules of procedure, and made at a duly constituted Committee meeting.”


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