Little Dictators

It’s been a rough month for the new Maryland Young Republicans leadership. A heavily hyped fundraiser had zero attendees. They’ve already blown through more than half of their cash on hand in prepping the fundraiser and for paying for people to attend the 2015 YRNF Convention in Chicago. And their one widespread communication “introducing” the new leadership got a lot of laughs and some anger from people around the state and around the country. In fact the only “success” so far has been the introduction of a poorly designed new logo. But despite those failures, my successor as Maryland Young Republicans Chairman is trying to consolidate a stranglehold on the organization by threatening to expel people who don’t march in total lockstep with his agenda.

MDYR Chairman Kory Boone has proposed an amendment to the Maryland Young Republicans bylaws that would give the Maryland Young Republicans Executive Board sweeping power to remove fellow Executive Board members merely for the act of disagreeing with the majority of the board.

The amendment reads:

SECTION 7. Removal of Elected Officers:

a) The Executive Board, at any meeting, may by a two-thirds (2/3) vote remove an elected officer from office for good cause.

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b) Good cause shall include, but is not limited to, failing or ceasing to perform the duties of the office, or ceasing to be a member of a county organization.

c) The Chairman, or any two (2) MYR elected officers, may by written notice place the removal of any elected officer on the agenda for a future meeting.

d) “The Executive Committee may, by a two-thirds vote present at a meeting, expel any officer for any act or conduct deemed unfriendly or hostile to the best interests of the organization, or proven dormant for 90 days or more without prior authorization by the Executive Board; provided that the Executive Committee has reviewed such proposed action and has made a recommendation, and that such officer has been notified by certified or electronic mail of the recommendation of the Executive Committee at least one week prior to the meeting, and that such elected officer has had the right to present a defense at the meeting, either by himself/herself or through a representative. Notice of the charges against the officer and recommendation of the Executive Committee must be included in the call of the meeting, and must be received by the Executive Board at least 72 hours prior to the beginning of the meeting.

e) Once on the agenda, the Chairman shall notify the Secretary to send written notice to the officer whose removal is on the agenda. The notice shall be sent certified mail at least 10 days prior to the meeting. The notice shall include a) grounds for removal, b) the time and place for
the meeting, and c) the person(s) placing it on the agenda.

f) The officer subject to removal shall have the opportunity to be heard at the meeting at which their removal is to be considered.

The key phrase in that new language (bold) above is “conduct deemed unfriendly or hostile to the best interests of the organization.” A chilling effect on free speech to say the least. Because that means that anybody who stands up and opposes something that the majority of the board wants to do can be discarded because it is “unfriendly or hostile.” It’s appalling that the representative group of the party that stands for freedom and free speech wants to vote itself the power to expel elected leaders merely for disagreeing with the majority of the other elected officials.

The amendment is really aimed at two Executive Board members. Me and Maryland Young Republicans Secretary (and one of my predecessors as Chairman) Rachael Gingrich. We are the only two Executive Board members who are not aligned with Boone’s junta. While the Maryland Young RepublicansConstitution shields me from having this Bylaw amendment applied to me, it is very clear that the intent of the amendment is to get Gingrich to go alone in lockstep with whatever ideas Boone happens to have, whether they make sense or not. And sources have indicated to me that he is being pushed to take these actions at the behest of at least one Republican Party insider, though that is not confirmed.

After the Amendment passes, the Executive Committee is then expected to begin to purge rank and file Maryland Young Republicans who are not 100% loyal to the Boone Administration.

The Amendment also comes in the wake of the resignation of longtime Maryland Young Republicans Legal Counsel Jason Rheinstein. Rheinstein (also the Counsel for the Anne Arundel Republican Party and long involved in party politics) stepped down due to conflicts with Boone and Boone’s mismanagement of the organization surrounding an endorsement of one of the national YR tickets and Boone’s management of the organization’s finances. Rheinstein had served as Maryland Young Republicans Counsel since 2009, and has also served as counsel to the DC Young Republicans, the Anne Arundel County Republican Party, as well as a key organizer for Election Day legal operations. This is somebody who can work with just about anybody and is highly respected around the state. If Jason can’t work with somebody, things are very, very bad.

One of Kory Boone’s critiques of my administration (though he was never involved in the Maryland Young Republicans during my term) was that the organization wasn’t growing and wasn’t open to all. However it is hard to see how the organization will be able to grow or remain relevant if the majority of the Executive Board is focused on chilling free speech, squashing dissent and enacting Stalinist style totalitarian discipline on its officers and its members. What kind of liberty-loving Republican would want to be part of an organization run by a pliant, powerless junta subservient to the wills of its Little Dictator?

I’m not sure what Boone and his outfit are expecting to gain from this. If the plan is to remove Gingrich, it certainly is not well thought out. Gingrich is one of the few people still involved with the Maryland Young Republicans who has been around longer than I have, and her work on the Montgomery County Central Committee has made her well respected in Republican Circles around the state and around the country. A group of newly involved Republicans using Alinsky-like tactics to remove a highly respected Republican activist is not going to make them any friends.

The movement to control those speaking out against the majority has already started.  During the June 30th Executive Board meeting, the Maryland Young Republicans Executive Board censured Rheinstein (who was attending the meeting as my proxy) for “inappropriate conduct, tone, and language” and begin discussions of amending the bylaws to prohibit proxies. All that simply because Jason Rheinstein has the temerity to speak up against the actions of the current board. An upcoming vote on Maryland Young Republicans Delegates to the YRNF Convention (the one that the Executive Board is shelling out $1500 to register people for) won’t include me as a Delegate, despite my national experience, because I don’t support the same candidate for Chairman as the leadership does. Petty nonsense that is expected by people like me who are involved in politics, but the kind of nonsense that drives younger conservatives away from organizations.

Even worse, Boone’s antics could potentially jeopardize the Annapolis bid for the 2017 Young Republican National Convention. Boone vehemently opposes the bid, putting him at odds with the State Party and with Annapolis Mayor Michael Pantelides. Rheinstein is one of the key people in the bid; in fact, it was his idea that Annapolis should host the convention in the first place. Why Boone opposes an event that could provide great opportunities for the Maryland Young Republicans, the State Party, as well as the re-election campaigns of Mayor Pantelides and Governor Hogan is puzzling.

The Boone Administration’s focus on revenge and purity of groupthink has won them no friends in Maryland and has already put him on the outs with the incoming national Young Republican administration. It’s a shame that they are wasting their time in office with minutiae and nonsense instead of being the “competent” slate that they promised everybody they would be. Maybe it’s time to drop the vendettas, stop focusing on national YR politics, and see the big picture.

Disclaimer: I’m a two-term former Chairman of the Maryland Young Republicans and sit as Immediate Past Chairman as a member of the aforementioned Maryland Young Republicans Executive Board. I’ve also endorsed the ticket that this board didn’t endorse, YR Unite whose Chairman Dennis Cook has already clinched enough Delegates to be elected as YRNF Chairman on August 1st.

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