The Daily News recently reported that a group of GOP precinct chairs are trying to wrest control from duly elected Republican County Chair Carl Gustafson (“GOP chairs vote to wrest control from Gustafson,” The Daily News, Dec. 5).

What is unfortunate is that this group has a fundamental misunderstanding of what the Texas Election Code mandates in regard to the statutory duties of the county chair and the County Executive Committee.

Chapter 171 of the Texas Election Code is clear that the county chair is the presiding officer of the County Executive Committee. As such, the county chair is statutorily authorized to perform certain duties as outlined by the code.

Although the election code, Section 172.111, states that the County Executive Committee shall supervise the overall conduct of the election, this statute does not give some disaffected precinct chairs the legal authority to call meetings, appoint committees, amend bylaws, prepare a budget, enter into contracts, appoint a director or committee, to oversee the 2018 primary elections and set the Executive Committee agenda.

Yet, this is exactly what these dissidents have attempted to do. By forming their illegal “steering committee,” what the precinct chairs involved here have effectively created is a “primary committee,” which is designated by the Texas Election Code, Section 172.081, for the purpose of organizing party primary elections. Per the same section, the chair of that committee is also the county chair.

As county chair, Gustafson did not call the meeting, nor did he approve it because the petition submitted for it by the disaffected precinct chairs was faulty; he canceled the meeting and declared it “out of order.” Therefore, it is clear that any business conducted at the meeting was invalid.

Both the petition and the meeting were invalid for several reasons, but most notably because of the creation of a steering committee. As well, the proposed agenda included the appointment of a director to oversee the 2018 primary election, which is inconsistent with the election code, which statutorily gives those duties to the elected county chair.

In addition, the county GOP bylaws require that any special meeting be posted on the county GOP website for 15 days before the meeting, which the disaffected Precinct Chairs failed to do.

It is undoubtedly regrettable that some members of the Republican County Executive Committee have chosen to rebel against their leader, but even more regrettable is the fact that those precinct chairs involved in this farrago don’t even know the job that they have been elected to perform.

Julia Hatcher is the Galveston County Republican Party precinct chair No. 316 and the Galveston County Republican Party Legal Counsel.

(9) comments

Diane Brodie

Ms. Hatcher should consult with the Republican Party of Texas parliamentarian who confirmed everything done by the elected precinct chairs was in order, including calling a special meeting. At no time has the Chair's statutory duties been infringed upon. Duties of the pcs aren't being delegated by the chair so they are being discussed by the pcs in duly called meetings. The webmaster and county chair were delinquent in posting the meetings.

Julia Hatcher

Nobody from the State Republican Party has offered a writing in support of your position, and as such, it is hearsay. The Chair did delegate duties when he appointed committees and their members.

Carol Dean

I have found it very interesting that people who were not even in attendance at the legally called Republican County Executive Committee meeting are all of a sudden the "authorities" on what took place. The least of these critics have been a few precinct chairs and other people who received their info through the "grapevine". They have wasted no time in burning up phone lines and sending out copious emails, throwing in their personal opinions. The meeting was called legally, according to the rules of the Republican Party of Texas. The two elected State Republican Executive Committee members for Senate District 11 were in attendance and the entire meeting was live streamed on more then one computer site.

Mr. Gustafson was not removed from his position as Republican County Chairman. All rules and by-laws were explicitly covered according to the Republican Party of Texas By-laws and Rules when action was taken. there were several changes that were made to the rules and By-laws during the 2017 Legislature. Yes, a Steering Committee was formed and Mr. Gustafson will have the tie breaking vote if it ever becomes necessary.

The Galveston County Republican Party is alive and well and already focusing on the upcoming 2018 primaries.

Julia Hatcher

The Code sections that I cited were not amended by the 2017 Legislature, and the Legislature does not amend By-Laws or Rules. The Republican Party of Texas has not sent anything in writing to the County Chair in support of your position. The RUles of the Republican Party of Texas only govern meetings of the SREC, not County Executive Committees.

JD Arnold

Why can't both sides of this ridiculous argument get in a room together and work out your differences instead of publically calling each other childish names. It really doesn't matter who started it, does it?

Diane Brodie

JD Arnold, that's been tried for 2 years. 60% of the precinct chairs attended the meeting in what amounts to a vote of no confidence in the chair. If he spent as much time working with the elected members as he has recruiting opponents for them, they wouldn't be so disenfranchised and frustrated with him.

JD Arnold

Thanks for the explanation Mrs. Brodie but you should realize that outsiders view this episode as petty bickering.

Jose' Boix

Agreed! As an outsider, it shows a sign of lacking leadership and unity. When politically we have so many key and significant issues to discus, debate and resolve, the bickering and pettiness seem childish and totally unprofessional. Just my thoughts.

Mark Aaron

Is there a schism in the local GOP between the moderates and the hardliners like we see in Washington? Is this local spat related to that?

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