Chat about the Kansas GOP's "loyalty committee" with executive director Christian Morgan
August 6, 2007
This chat has already taken place. Read the transcript below.
Burned by several high-profile party switchers, the Kansas Republican Party has formed a loyalty committee to make sure Republican officials toe the GOP line. Under a change made to the state Republican Party's constitution, officials who hold party positions could be stripped of their party titles if they are found to be helping a Democrat get elected. "There are times where the party needs to unite under just one banner," Kansas Republican Party executive director Christian Morgan said.
I'm Joel Mathis, managing editor for convergence, and I'll be moderating today.
Christian Morgan has joined us, and we've got plenty of questions already lined up.
First, though: Christian, there's been a lot of talk in the last week about the "loyalty committee" for the Kansas GOP. Could you explain what's going on?
Sure. Thanks for having me here. The first thing I want to do is simply paste the language of the loyalty committee here in the chat so we can easily reference its contents and dispense with the presumptions and inaccuracies that are already out there.
ARTICLE XIII: Party Loyalty
(A) The Kansas Republican Party is dedicated to the promotion of Republican policies, candidates and principles. The members of its governing bodies defined in this Constitution (Article IV, V, VI) are charged with promoting these goals. Therefore, any individual with voting rights on any Party committee defined in this Constitution, who by any public action donates, contributes, endorses, or in any manner provides open, documented or public assistance to a candidate other than the Republican nominee in a contested, partisan campaign for public office in the state of Kansas, shall forfeit their voting rights and membership on the committee(s) on which they serve. This shall not, in any way, restrict rights conferred on elected officials or precinct committeemen/women as defined in Kansas statute.
B) A four-fifths (80%) affirmative vote by the Loyalty Committee, comprised of the Chair of the Kansas Republican Party and the Chair of each Congressional District Party, shall determine if members of any governing bodies have violated this section. The decision of the Loyalty Committee and the resulting forfeiture of membership and voting rights on governing committees shall be effective immediately upon signed, written notification sent by first class postage to the last known address of the individual and Chair of each committee(s) of which the person is a member.
(C) County, district or state officers (Article IV, V, VI), who by any public action donate, contribute, endorse, or in any manner provide open, documented or public assistance to a candidate other than the Republican nominee in a contested, partisan campaign for public office in the state of Kansas, shall forfeit their official title and all rights associated with it under the rules of the Kansas Republican Party.
(D) A four-fifths (80%) affirmative vote by the Loyalty Committee, comprised of the Chair of the Kansas Republican Party and the Chair of each Congressional District Party, shall determine if members of any governing bodies have violated this section. The decision of the Loyalty Committee and the resulting forfeiture of membership and voting rights on governing committees shall be effective immediately upon signed, written notification sent by first class postage to the last known address of the individual and all members of each committee of which the individual is an officer. The committee(s) affected will be required to elect a new individual to the vacant position pursuant to Article X.
(E) Any member who feels wrongfully sanctioned by the Loyalty Committee may appeal the decision of the Loyalty Committee to the Kansas Republican Party Executive Committee (as defined by Article 5 of the Bylaws of the Kansas Republican Party). A two-thirds vote of all members, whether present or not, to reinstate the disciplined member shall over-ride the ruling of the Loyalty Committee. If requested by the member, action by the Executive Committee must occur within five (5) calendar days of the appeal being received by the State Chair sent by fax, verified e-mail or first-class mail to the State Party office.
(F) Such forfeiture shall last for the entirety of the person's original elected term of office.
One more question, then I'll turn it over to our audience. Is there any example from recent history where this policy might've been used, had it been in existence?
Actually there are a few instances, but I'll speak in just general terms about "Republicans for Moore."
Many of the Republicans for Moore are precinct people and even 3rd District Delegates to the State Republican Party. Signing up as a Republican for Moore is an endorsement of a Democrat over a Republican in a contested race. In this instance that Republican for Moore would be subject to the Loyalty Committee Rules in the Kansas GOP Constitution. However, if a Republican with no Party obligations, voting rights, etc. signed up as a Republican for Moore, the person does not fall under the committee's oversight.
Is this an attempt to get rid of party moderates, or will it be applied fairly across the board to all factions of the party?
This is definitely not an attempt to get rid of Party moderates. I would say this is an attempt to ensure that Party moderates are not targeted by conservatives inside that party that disagree with them on one or two issues. And vice versa.
With this amendment, the "big tent" idea of the Kansas GOP is guaranteed in the constitution. This forces conservative (and moderate members alike) to support the GOP candidate regardless of ideological issues.
I guarantee that this amendment will apply across the board to all factions of the party. This is a measure to reduce the influence of single issue folks inside the party - single issues in both factions.
As executive director, do you find it frustrating that local and state media have been covering the formation of the loyalty committee without having attended the state party meeting where they by-laws were changed by a unanimous vote?
Its always a little frustrating when people mislead or simply by not being informed, misinform the public. That is why I agreed immediately to do this chat. Its important that Kansans know that this isn't "targeting" rank and file voters or "party switchers." This is geared towards current Party officers who have endorsed Democrats in contested elections. Its really as simple as that.
I recommend that you don't listen to the Democratic Party's talking points on internal GOP rules and constitution changes. This amendment helps the Republican Party maintain unity and hurts the Democrat Party.
And you point out something important - this was approved by the Republican State Committee by a unanimous vote over a week ago - this measure was supported by conservatives and moderates alike including such notable moderates as our national committeeman Steve Cloud.
I am a registered Republican - and a fairly conservative one on many issues including taxes and abortion. But like many Republicans, I do not like right-wing Kansas Republicans demagoguery on two key issues, specifically anti-gay and anti-immigrant rhetoric such as that espoused by many party leaders including Chris Kobach. I cannot support fellow Republicans who would "toe the line" when the line includes such issues.
Aren't you worried about voters like me becoming more disenchanted with the party?
I'm not worried about you at all, KU_cynic. You have issues that you believe strongly in just like Kris Kobach and I. As long as voters like you understand that this amendment isn't geared towards you - you are a registered Republican voter in Kansas and, from what I can tell, have no Party obligations other than voting in August and November of election years. This amendment is not meant for you and should not give you pause at all.
Let me give you an example of why this amendment is completely reasonable.
I am a big KU football fan so I'll use that as an example.
Coach Mangino recruits tirelessly for his team - he goes out on the road and "sells" the KU football program. He demands that his coaches, recruiters and athletic department staff support KU Athletics and, in this case, the football program.
If one of his assistant coaches, while on a recruiting trip, makes comments in the Manhattan paper that Joe Football, a prize recruit from the area would be better at K-State than at KU - I would think that assistant would at least be reprimanded by Mangino, if not Lew Perkins and the Athletic Department of KU.
There is no difference here. All we are asking is that if you have duties with the Party - enumerated above - then you must not support the Democrats in a public or demonstrable way.
We are building the Kansas GOP as one big team, just like KU. All we ask is that you stay loyal to the team.
A quick question about organization. The loyalty committee is, as you posted, comprised of "Chair of the Kansas Republican Party and the Chair of each Congressional District Party." The congressional district leaders are not all that visible to laypeople, perhaps - how are they chosen for the positions? Would it be possible for either wing of the party to "stack" the committee?
The Chairman of the Kansas GOP is elected by the Delegates to the Kansas GOP - representatives from each Congressional District.
The Congressional District chairs are elected much the same way - by the Delegates in each Congressional District. In the 3rd District, for example, we have a strong mix of moderate and conservatives in leadership. This was an agreement formed by both conservatives and moderates looking to ensure unity in the District. The same kind of agreements happen in each Congressional District.
All of our District Chairs can be found on our website: www.ksgop.org
/>Let me say this as well. As stated above in the language of the amendment, it is not easy to bring a complaint or action against someone for supporting a Democrat. You still need pretty clear evidence. This was something debated for hours by the Kansas GOP Rules Committee - a group comprised of an equal number of conservatives and moderates from each Congressional District. It is hard to "discipline" someone according to the amendment. It has to be pretty clear, and most important, has to be documented and public.
Finally, our amendment is pretty tame compared to other State's Loyalty Amendments. For example, West Virginia "banishes" for life any Republican who supports a Democrat.
Rather than forming a loyalty committee, wouldn't a better solve for the problem be to sit down with the disloyal members of the party and try to work out some kind of agreement?
That is a great point - and that may just as well happen.
For example, if there happens to be a Republican County Chair that endorses a Democrat in their local paper, they won't get a letter from the Chairman the next day saying that they've been kicked out of the Party. Far from that.
The most likely situation will be that Chair gets a call from someone letting them know of the Amendment and would likely discuss the implications of his endorsement. The committee doesn't kick in automatically and immediately remove someone. It might just happen as you say: the parties get together and discuss what happened and may just work out some kind of agreement.
And finally, I think the discussion of this amendment right now is healthy and important. GOP candidates in 2008 will know that members of the Kansas GOP (voting members, officers, etc.) will not endorse their Democrat opponents. This kind of comfort and loyalty is important during this important election year.
The reason you see so much squawking from the Democrats about the Amendment is that it hurts them in 2008 and helps the GOP.
This measure is an attempt to exclude moderate canidates that are typically supporting other moderate canadites, usually ex-GOP members. It comes accross as an attempt to stifle support for those best suited for the position in order to force support for canidates less represenative of one's district. As a life time republican that strongly believes in moderate positions, this is punitive and lacking democracy. Yes, I voted against Phil Kline. So did most of Kansas. Why force support for such an undesirable canidate? The Kansas GOP is already pushing people out, both canidates and voters. Why would you want to further alienate those of us that believe in democracy?
I want to make sure people understand what the Amendment says:
"any individual with voting rights on any Party committee defined in this Constitution, who by any public action donates, contributes, endorses, or in any manner provides open, documented or public assistance to a candidate other than the Republican nominee in a contested, partisan campaign for public office in the state of Kansas, shall forfeit their voting rights and membership on the committee(s) on which they serve. This shall not, in any way, restrict rights conferred on elected officials or precinct committeemen/women as defined in Kansas statute."
Nowhere in the Amendment does it say that a member holding an office with the Kansas GOP or has a position inside the GOP MUST support the GOP nominee.
Let me state that again. The amendment does not require support of the GOP candidate - you simply cannot publicly endorse or support the Democrat or other party opponent.
You sound like a smart voter, and I encourage you to keep on voting how you see fit. But you are also not subject to the rules in this Amendment. I cannot state this any clearer than I have in interviews and on this chat:
This amendment is geared towards voting members of the Kansas GOP and members who hold an office inside the Kansas GOP. The Amendment is not geared towards "Joe Public" that is a registered Republican. Anyone stating such is misleading you.
So, to make sure my answer is clear:
The Amendment does not force support for an "undesirable candidate." The Amendment does not force support of ANY candidate in fact.
This is a measure to ensure GOP unity during election years - not to push anyone out of the Party. Moderates and Conservatives alike can depend on the Kansas GOP that they will not endorse Democrats against them in General Elections. Period.
Knowing, though, about the importance of symbolism in politics - are you at all worried about the ramifications among rank-and-file GOP voters (who are otherwise unaffected by this rule) because of action (if action is taken) directed at somebody in the GOP leadership?
We'll post one more question after this.
That is always a worry - that's why I appreciate the opportunity to talk about this important issue.
Just like my analogy above, I believe folks in Kansas understand what this Amendment is for - unity and assurance. If you represent Kansas Athletics, you shouldn't endorse K-State Athetics or, especially, Missouri Athletics. If you represent the Kansas GOP, you shouldn't endorse or support the Kansas Democrats. Period.
All of our GOP candidates in 2008 can be assured that officers of the Kansas GOP will not endorse Democrats.
Dialogue is important going into an important election year. That is why the Kansas GOP, the Chairman and myself have been completely honest and up-front about the Amendment and the goals of the Kansas GOP.
Look out when the Kansas Democratic Party calls it an "oath" or a "pledge" because they are lying to you.
Again, this is a measure to ensure that Moderates and Conservative candidates and individuals inside the Kansas GOP are not pushed out and to guarantee they will have the support of their Party.
The Democrats and their allies in the media have been making a good deal of nOise about the loyalty committee. However, isn't it true that Democrats also place a premium on loyalty? For example, last year many Democrats such as Bill and Hillary Clinton endorsed Sen. Joe Lieberman for the Democratic primary in Connecticut. In doing so, they noted that he was the best person for the position. After Lieberman was defeated by Ned Lamont, these same Democrats swithced their support to Lamont. Didn't Democrats in that case demonstrate that they were more loyal to the party than to an individual they had earlier said was the best for the position?
It is always convenient for Democrats to mislead the public or conveniently forget what they have done in the past.
Every organization demands loyalty - including the Democrats. I am pretty sure that Microsoft demands loyalty to their products and Apple demands loyalty to their products.
Well, the Kansas GOP demands loyalty to their products, candidates and individuals. It is no different. One of the more troubling things I've seen about the coverage of this committee is how it has been characterized wrongly as an "oath" or "pledge" to the Party. There is no such thing in the Amendment. There is not "oath" no "pledge" - there is simply an assurance from the Kansas GOP to all of our candidates, moderate and conservative alike, that when they run for office, that they will have the support of the Kansas GOP and at the very least, they will not have to battle against Democrat endorsements from Kansas GOP officers and officials.
Thanks, Christian, for joining us today.
Thanks for having me. This was a great opportunity to get the facts out there about the Amendment. If anyone has any questions about the Amendment please send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or give me a call in Topeka, 785-234-3456. And you can always visit our website at www.ksgop.org
Thanks very much.