FORT DODGE – A special election to fill a vacant seat on the GOP’s State Central Committee quickly turned into a contentious revolt on Tuesday. The meeting was taken over by members of the Fourth District Executive Committee from the outset. They say they were merely following the Republican Party of Iowa’s constitution.
“We have seen this run by RPI in the past, to questionable results at times,” said Hardin County GOP Co-Chair Andy Cable. “This is our district meeting. RPI, according to the rules of the state, has no authority here whatsoever. I think the only problem we had was from RPI themselves who evidently did not understand the constitution or had not read it.”
The Fourth District Executive Committee is made up of all the county GOP chairs and co-chairs from the 39 counties in the congressional district, as well as three extra representatives from high population counties. 42 of the 81 members were present at the meeting. 14 more voted by proxy.
The executive committee meeting was scheduled to start at 6:30 pm. RPI Chairman A.J. Spiker had previously appointed SCC member Chad Steenhoek as the temporary chairman for the event and RPI staffer John Ferland as the secretary. However, members of the executive committee refused to acknowledge Steenhoek as the chairman and he never gained control of the meeting. Just before 6:30, Plymouth County GOP Co-Chair Don Kass stood up and called the meeting to order.
Within a matter of seconds, a motion was made to elect Carroll County GOP Chairman Craig Williams as chairman of the meeting. The motion was quickly seconded, voted on and a motion was affirmed to not accept any more nominations.
Chad Steenhoek then stood up and began to speak as though he was chairman of the meeting. Williams, the former treasurer for the Republican Party of Iowa, quickly showed Steenhoek a printout of the RPI constitution, in regards to district committees, while Hardin County GOP Co-Chair Andy Cable read the rule aloud (highlighted below):
Article VII, 2. The District Committee shall: (1) direct and coordinate Republican activities in the district, including organizational, candidate recruitment, and finance efforts; (2) coordinate the congressional and legislative campaigns in the district for the duly selected Republican nominees; (3) perform all of the duties relating to any election to fill a district vacancy on the Republican State Central Committee; (4) advise the congressional district’s representatives on the Republican State Central Committee; and (5) do all other things which serve to promote the welfare of the Republican Party and the orderly and successful conduct of the election campaign in the congressional district.
Citing that rule, Craig Williams, now acting as chairman of the meeting, asked Steenhoek to sit down. As Steenhoek complied, Republican Party of Iowa Executive Director Steve Bierfeldt approached the podium and attempted to address the committee. He was immediately rebuffed by Williams.
A five-minute argument ensued, with Craig Williams and others repeatedly telling Steve Bierfeldt that he was out of order and he should sit down. However, the RPI executive director refused to acknowledge Williams as the chairman and kept attempting to address the committee. He was cut off each time.
Over and over, Williams and others told Bierfeldt that neither he, nor RPI Chairman A.J. Spiker had authority over a meeting of the District Executive Committee, according to RPI’s own constitution. Tempers flared and voices were raised.
“I will have you physically removed from the building if you do not sit down,” Williams said at one point.
“You can choose the chairman just as soon as the meeting’s called to order,” Bierfeldt said three times. Although the committee had already elected Craig Williams its permanent chairman, it was Bierfeldt’s belief that Chad Steenhoek, as appointed by A.J. Spiker, was still the chairman of the meeting.
As the bickering continued, one District Executive Committee member offered to be appointed Sergeant at Arms and physically escort Bierfeldt from the meeting. That gentleman then began to wrestle with Bierfeldt over the microphone.
Don Kass and another committee member then approached the podium. “You are out of order,” Kass said to Bierfeldt. “Roberts Rules of Order state that you are out of order. So go sit down.”
“In my judgment, the meeting has not been called to order,” Bierfeldt answered.
“This isn’t your judgment. This isn’t your show, son,” Kass replied. “You are not an executive council member. We are.”
Finally, Williams gained custody of the microphone and began conducting the business at hand. Bierfeldt continued to stand at the podium, right behind Williams, for 10 more minutes while the meeting continued. Finally, he moved away when it came time to do the Pledge of Allegiance.
Watch the scenario in full in the video below:
“I actually feel kind of bad for the young man, but the rules are the rules. He didn’t understand the rules. He needs to learn the rules,” Williams said afterwards. “I would rather work with RPI than fight them. I would rather spend all my energy fighting the liberals, not ourselves, but we’ve got some problems to work out. The first problem to work out is let’s all follow the damn rules.”
“I came here ready to defend and support RPI’s constitution and bylaws,” added Hardin County GOP Co-Chair Andy Cable. “I have done that many times over the last 10 or 12 years and been ignored or laughed at. Tonight, the concept of an executive committee for the district was understood, was presented in a fair, authorized, legal method and approved by an overwhelming majority of the committee.”
For others, the issues go deeper than not following the rules at meetings such as this one. They go straight to the leadership of the Republican Party of Iowa.
“There’s a certain amount of mistrust toward certain members of the central committee,” Plymouth County GOP Co-Chair Don Kass said afterwards. “They were basically elected by a movement. My personal opinion, it’s almost a cult following, the Ron Paul people. Mr. Steenhoek represents the Ron Paul faction of the party. They’re welcome to be Republicans. I welcome their ideas, but their tactics make those of us who have really pounded the pavement and built this party very, very mad. I’ve been at this for 20 years and we’re just not going to take it anymore.”
As for the State Central Committee election, Lyon County GOP Chairman Cody Hoefert won handily, 49-7, over Hampton Mayor Shawn Dietz. TheIowaRepublican.com live blogged the event, which you can read here.
UPDATE: Because many people have inquired about the proposed rules and agenda for this meeting sent down by RPI, here is a view for yourself:
blog comments powered by Disqus