BREAKING NEWS: So much for Republican grassroots indignation. The “new,” supposedly “grassroots” Republican party chair has caved in to the oligarchs. He agreed to a “compromise” that will now allow an additional “affiliated party committee” to be set up by the senior member of the Council of State (i.e. the governor). Gov. Pat McCrory has siged the bill (or course).
“As Chair of the Libertarian Party of North Carolina, I’d like to express sincere appreciation to both Republicans and Democrats in our General Assembly and Council of State for placing particular emphasis on their absolute lack of morals, ethics and professionalism,” commented J.J. Summerell. “By stooping to new depths you have raised the LPNC, the Party of Principle, to new heights in the eyes of informed voters.”
by J.J. Summerell
In an eleventh hour back-door maneuver, the Republican leadership in the General Assembly rammed through a bill giving them the unlimited and uncontrolled ability to raise as much money as they want for candidates they alone select.
They’ll be able to appoint an “affiliated party committee” that won’t have to abide by the same rules and constrains that apply to parties and candidates. And if that doesn’t make a sufficient mockery of the law, individuals, lobbyists, and special interest groups will be able to give as much money as the want to these faux committee.
We agree with the Republican assistant counsel David Williams that this is a “poison pill” for the Republican Party. But it’s also a toxic potion for Libertarians, unaffiliated voters–and most especially the people of North Carolina.
We also agree with Rep. John Blust, one of 19 Republicans who voted against this bill, who said, “Honorable people do not conduct the publics’ business this way. The attitude reflected by the leaders in carrying this out shows a profound disrespect not only for the other legislators, but for the people we represent.”
And the claim by one supporter that this provision adds transparency to donations is ludicrous.
It’s as if the North Carolina GOP were a character in that old movie “Invasion of the Body Snatchers.” They innocently go to sleep and suddenly the next day a pod has replicated their entire organization and stolen their identity. Only the pod party, instead of having its own will and volition, does the bidding of the hive mind of caucus leaders and big donors.
HB 373 started out as a bill to simply move the Presidential Primary to March. This in itself was a selfish move by the Republican leadership to benefit their own party. Under the guise of “saving money,” then also decided to move up all primaries to March – seven months before the general election.
Then to further solidify their hold on power, and lest anyone challenge their chosen candidates in a primary, they moved the filing period up two months. It will be Dec. 1 to 21, right between Thanksgiving and Christmas. This gives anyone thinking of challenging the establishment much less time to prepare.
That’s the only part of the bill Democrats apparently seemed concerned about. Senate Minority Leader Dan Blue called it “incumbent protection.” We agree. But otherwise, the Democrats don’t “anticipate any changes” according to their executive director. That’s probably because Democratic caucus leaders can set up their own slush funds using the cover of these special committees as well.
The tepid response from the Democrats is more evidence—if anyone really needs it—that the so-called “two-party system” is not just severely broken, it’s become an oligarchy conspiring to subvert fair, free and open elections, and restrict the voting rights of the people of North Carolina.
On the other hand, many grassroots Republicans are upset by this overt power and money grab by their own party’s legislative leadership. They’re concerned these committees will make the real party irrelevant by siphoning money away. These committees will be able to use the party’s name, abbreviations and symbols.
This is a curious arrangement, because elsewhere in the statues (163-96b) a “new political party” petitioning for ballot access cannot use a name that “contains any word that appears in the name of any existing political party” if “the name is so similar to that of an existing political party recognized in this State as to confuse or mislead the voters at an election.”
That seems to be exactly the intention of this proposal.
Libertarians support the movement by grassroots Republicans and the Republican Liberty Caucus to convince Gov. Pat McCrory to veto this abominable bill. We look forward to having this issue openly debated in the full light of day, so that these onerous provisions can be removed.
Summerell is chair of the Libertarian Party of North Carolina. He manages a benefits communications and enrollment firm in Greensboro.