In an email thread provided to RagingElephantsRadio.com, Republican Party of Texas Associate Counsel, Eric Opiela, admits that charging a delegate to receive their credentials at the state convention is a violation of the Texas Election Code. However, urged by the party to pre-register for the convention online, a delegate cannot pre-register unless they pay a $55.00 “facilities fee”.
The Chairman of the Jefferson County GOP, Dr. Garrett Peel, and several of his constituents are losing patience with RPT headquarters, the legal department, and Opiela.
The story first broke on RER when Daniel Miller, President of the Texas Nationalist Movement, discussed the outrage in the Golden Triangle on his independently-produced program, Miller on Mondays. He reported that several first-time delegates to a state convention had contacted him about the cost for being a delegate. They were unaware that it would cost them $55.00 to receive their credentials in Dallas. The convention is May 12 through 14, 2016.
Miller knew this couldn’t be correct and legal. He researched the Texas Election Code and found two statutes that clearly layout the requirements for a Texas citizen to be a delegate to any precinct, county/SD, or state convention for all parties.
Bottom line to take from the two statutes? The only requirement for eligibility to be a delegate to a convention is that one must be an eligible Texas voter, and have voted in a party’s primary. Any requirements beyond that, including charging a fee, is prohibited.
Miller spread the word amongst LM (liberty movement) activists in the Golden Triangle that included those within the inner circle of new County Chair, Dr. Garrett Peel. They concluded that they were completely comfortable with approaching Dr. Peel about the confusion, and measure his action or inaction.
Peel did act. It was assertive.
The RERactivist (a citizen journalist) that provided us with the email thread stated that when Peel was spoken to about the matter of delegates being charged to receive their credentials and was shown the election code, he needed no persuasion to promptly contact the RPT and get, as his email stated, “clarification”.
On April 1, 2016, at 2:10 p.m., Dr. Peel sent an email of courteous tone to Cassie Daniel, Senior Director of Party Organization and Training. He requested that Daniel speak with legal about the confusion dealing with the $55.00 fee, and included a link to the Texas Election Code that prohibits such a practice.
At 2:16 p.m., Daniel responded with only six words and no punctuation, “It is in the RPT Rules”.
At 2:30 p.m., Dr. Peel continued the email thread with this simple response: “Meaning that RPT may charge a fee; despite what this code says? Just getting clarity for the membership. Thanks, GP”
The next entry on the email thread came at 5:10 p.m. This time, it was from the Associate General Counsel of the RPT, Eric Opiela. Here is his response in its entirety.
You are correct that a political party cannot impose any requirements above and beyond that prescribed in the Election Code for service as a delegate at any level of convention. The payment of a facilities fee is not required for a delegate to be credentialed at the state convention. As the party of personal responsibility, however, we have, for over 30 years asked all those attending the convention to help us cover the cost of facilities rental and production for the convention, which is more than $500,000. We always have a number of delegates who are unwilling or unable to help cover their share of costs through the facilities fee. They will be issued credentials just like everyone else who does pay the fee. Guests, however, will not be admitted without payment of the facilities fee.
I hope this clarifies how the facilities fee works.
Assoc. General Counsel
Republican Party of Texas
Let’s do the math.
According to Opiela’s email, the cost of the convention is $500,000. I guess we’ll have to take his word since the RPT will not let anyone view the convention contracts – even a member of its Officials Committ
ee, namely SREC SD13 Committee Member Bonnie Lugo. If you have potentially 10,000 to 12,000 delegates and guest attending the state convention, and the RPT is able to get as many, or all, of the attendees to pay $55.00, the convention is paid for.
Within his response, Opiela declared that the facilities fee is voluntary. But, here’s the problem…
As of Saturday, April 23, 2016, the following conditions exist if a delegate wishes to pre-register for the convention, as confirmed by RERteam.
For a delegate, alternate delegate, or At-Large delegate to
pre-register they must visit the RPT website, www.TexasGOP.org. Once there, finding the convention page is elementary. You’re given three options on how to give to the Texas GOP. You must select one of the options.
Once you select the option of your choice to give to the RPT, the site takes you to an EventBrite order page. Listed there is a menu of all the various convention participant categories. No matter the category, the $55.00 “ticket” still applies.
Unless a convention participant completes the “order” process that includes the $55.00 facilities fee, they are not advanced to the checkout and registration page.
RERteam noticed that at the bottom of the order page menu, there was a free gala listed as a “product”. So, we clicked “quantity 1” and hit the button to go forward. That wasn’t happening. There was no escape from the order page without agreeing to pay the $55.00.
On Thursday, April 21, 2016, Jefferson County Precinct Chair Jeff Sadighi, wrote an email about the pre-registration process to Chairman Tom Mechler, directly. Apostle Claver T. Kamau-Imani, President and CEO of RagingElephantsRadio.com, was cc’d on the email.
Now that RPT legal counsel has agreed it is illegal to charge a fee to delegates, when are you changing the on-line form to allow delegates to register without the optional ‘facilities’ fee?
Jefferson County Precinct 36 Chair
As of the publishing of this RERfirst article, Pct. Chair Sadighi has yet to receive a response.
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