The Leadership Coup in the Los Angeles County Republican Party


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You think the OC GOP has problems?  Apparently the L.A. GOP’s Central Committee was taken over by a bunch of RINOs! 

As one would expect, Jon Fleischman has been bleating the other side’s story, over on his lame Flash Report blog.  He has refused to tell his readers about what really happened.  So we are going to set the record straight.  In the article below, the attorney for the members of the real Central Committee, explains how the RINO’s took over, in a virtual coup. 

The Leadership Coup in the Los Angeles County Republican Party

Rick Williams, Esq.
February 17, 2010

As the lawyer representing Chairman Robert W. Vaughn and the validly elected Executive Board of the Republican Party of Los Angeles County (“RPLAC”), I read with interest the recent article published by Harmeet K. Dhillon on February 15, 2010 entitled “Will the ‘Real’ Los Angeles County GOP Please Stand Up?” Ms. Dhillon is my worthy opposing counsel in the lawsuit recently filed by my clients against purported RPLAC “Chairman” Jane Barnett and her illegitimate Executive Board, but counsel apparently failed to notice the grand irony contained in the title of her article. While it might come as news to Ms. Dhillon, the “real” Los Angeles County leadership group (my clients) did “stand up,” on December 6, 2008– when they were validly and legitimately elected to RPLAC officer positions at the organizational meeting mandated by the California Elections Code. Plaintiffs Robert Vaughn, Roger Eshleman, and Constance Ruffley were elected at the RPLAC organizational meeting– exactly as called for in the Elections Code– while Jane Barnett and her supporters walked out of the organizational meeting and only later came back on May 14, 2009 and tried to capture RPLAC offices by way of a wrongful coup. Who is “real” and who is not? Who “stood up” at the legitimate organizational meeting, and who walked out? The answers to these questions are entirely clear.

Ms. Dhillon laments that a lawsuit has become necessary to resolve this RPLAC leadership issue. She pointedly suggests that Mr. Vaughn and his validly elected colleagues should “gracefully accept defeat” and abide by the outcome of the May 14, 2009 coup election. But let’s look closely at what actually occurred on the night of May 14. When we do, we quickly come to see that the conduct of Ms. Barnett and her fellow coup plotters was shocking and outrageous in the extreme. There’s no need to take my word on any of this—coup plotter Gary Aminoff (a defendant in the lawsuit, and First Vice Chair of the illegitimate Barnett group) told us exactly what the wrongdoers did, when they did it, and how they did it. In an email dated June 21, 2009, Mr. Aminoff wrote:

“Meetings throughout the County were held during early May to come up with an experienced Board, who could get the County Party to function the way it was supposed to. A slate of officers who were well known to the electives, who had the respect of the members, and who had experience in running political organizations were chosen for various offices. It was decided during those meetings that the entire Board had to be replaced. Roger [plaintiff Roger Eshleman] and Connie [plaintiff Constance Ruffley] as Secretary and Assistant Secretary had done their jobs fine. Unfortunately, they got caught up in the membership wanting to replace the entire Board. The Board that was ultimately chosen, and that was elected on May 14th, met all the requirements.” (Italics added.)

If that’s not the plotting of a coup, then I don’t know what is.

Mr. Aminoff viewed it as “irrelevant” that the May 14, 2009 coup violated the RPLAC Bylaws and Robert’s Rules of Order. He wrote on June 21, 2009:

“I know that Anthony Cinelli and others contend that the election violated the Bylaws and Robert’s Rules of Order. The fact is that they may have, but it is irrelevant. Here’s why. It is a well—established principle that a supermajority of a body (2/3) can vote to suspend the rules and the Bylaws and make new rules for a meeting.”

What??? Mr. Aminoff is telling us that a self professed “supermajority” can walk into a meeting, suspend the rules and Bylaws, appoint a bogus “Temporary Chairman,” make up their own new rules, and then throw out the validly elected officers of RPLAC! Suffice it to say that Mr. Aminoff and his fellow coup plotters have consistently exhibited a total misunderstanding of due process rights, good order, fundamental fairness, and the operative Bylaws and Rules that govern RPLAC affairs. Indeed, the entire “supermajority” argument is a complete and utter fabrication conjured up by the plotters out of thin air, and the idea that Jane Barnett and her Board were somehow legitimately “elected” on this basis at the May 14, 2009 meeting is an absurdity.

Robert Vaughn and his colleagues sought the opinion of the leading parliamentarian expert in America prior to filing their lawsuit. Nancy Sylvester is her name, and she has written two detailed expert opinions about the coup events of May 14. Without going into great detail, suffice it to say that Nancy Sylvester views the coup as something much more significant than a mere procedural “misunderstanding” between two competing officer groups in the RPLAC organization. Nancy Sylvester tells us in her written opinions that the actions by the coup plotters on May 14, 2009 were the most egregious violations that she has ever witnessed in her 35 years as a parliamentarian. In Ms. Sylvester’s opinion, it is “extremely clear” that what occurred on May 14, 2009 was not an error in interpretation of the Bylaws, but rather was “a planned and carefully executed attempt to usurp.” Ms. Sylvester tells us that the rights of the members of RPLAC were not only stepped on in the May 14, 2009 meeting, they were trampled. In her words: “What a travesty!”

The written notice transmitted to members in advance of the May 14, 2009 meeting said nothing about election of RPLAC officers as an agenda item for consideration that night. This absence of proper notice allowed the coup plotters to pack the meeting with their friends and supporters, while members who might have supported the legitimate officer group were kept in the dark about what was going to occur. In a point completely overlooked by my worthy opposing counsel, Nancy Sylvester tells us why this lack of proper notice is so important. It isn’t simply the rights of members present at a meeting that matter—without proper notice about the elections, the rights of all members are trampled upon, since absent members were deprived of their voice (and vote) by the secret plotting of the coup participants.

Ms. Dhillon argues that the RPLAC members should all just put this behind them and go about the business of electing Republicans to office. Yet at the same time, she writes with apparent pride about the fact that “the Defendants have finally fought back.” Talk about the pot calling the kettle black! Ms. Dhillon postures that the coup plotters are somehow innocent victims, when in fact it was they who created the turmoil in the first place by sneaking into a meeting and attempting to throw out the validly elected officers. People sometimes come to believe the overhyped notion that “the best defense is a good offense,” but Ms. Dhillon’s characterization of my clients—the validly elected officers—as the ones who created this “chaos and uncertainty” goes far beyond mere lawyer posturing. Let’s recall a central point—Jane Barnett was a candidate for office at the valid organizational meeting on December 6, 2008, and she walked out when she and her slate realized they didn’t have the votes to win. Ms. Dhillon’s talk about “sore losers” is—at best—backwards.

There’s nothing “chilling” about this lawsuit where defendants’ First Amendment rights are concerned. Ms. Barnett and her colleagues are free to say or do whatever they want to help Republican candidates get elected, and the litigation relief requested is simply that they are not entitled to do so under the representation that they are validly elected officers of RPLAC when in fact they are not. My worthy opposing counsel apparently believes that the coup participants of May 14, 2009 should continue to be rewarded with RPLAC offices, and they’ll be victimized if their wrongfully held offices are taken away. Such chutzpah.

Finally, and perhaps most significantly, Ms. Dhillon delivers a lengthy lecture from her law office in San Francisco about what we in Los Angeles should do about electing Central Committee members and officers in the future. This is where the name calling comes in. Robert Vaughn and his Executive Board—good and decent Republicans one and all—are demonized by my San Francisco counterpart as the sort who “don’t play well with others, who might elevate personal interests over party unity, and who actively espouse values abhorrent to central conservative tenets.” These unfounded attacks are a continuation of an endless stream of name calling that’s been going on since Robert Vaughn and other newcomer colleagues were elected in the first place, and it’s bothersome indeed to see such personal vituperation coming up over and over again. Enough name calling, already.

The emergence of newcomers in Republican Party leadership positions is not merely a Los Angeles County phenomenon. Just this past weekend, the Los Angeles Times ran a front page story about the fresh faced activists all around the country who are stepping forward at the grassroots level in the Republican Party to make their voices heard in the face of concerted opposition from the entrenched operatives who have been running (ruining?) things for years. As one activist was quoted in the Times about the newcomers: “It’s not from Michael Steele’s office down. It’s from the ground up. The party is over for the old guard.” People are calling out for better leadership than the old timers provided, and they’re going to get it.

New leaders; grassroots activism; fresh faces; better ideas—that’s the epic wave of the future, but the coup plotters of May 14, 2009 have placed themselves directly in its path vainly shouting “stop.” The RPLAC/Vaughn vs. Barnett lawsuit is simply one clear and obvious example of a broader struggle between newcomers and old guarders that’s playing itself out on a national basis, and the times we’re living right now are an exciting, albeit tumultuous, moment for freedom and new directions. Will all the political controversies be settled and decided in a single court proceeding? Of course not. But the actions of the coup plotters in this case were far beyond the pale of acceptable conduct, and we’ll be asking the Los Angeles Superior Court to so find.

[Author’s Note: I am the attorney for the Republican Party of Los Angeles County, its legitimate Chairman Robert W. Vaughn, and the validly elected Executive Board of the County Central Committee. On December 4, 2009, Mr. Vaughn and his colleagues filed a lawsuit against a competing group of individuals who claimed to be the proper Central Committee Chairman and Board. The court case seeks to enjoin the defendants from holding themselves out and purporting to act as Central Committee officers, and on February 15, 2010, my opposing counsel published a lengthy article about the case in a widely read online journal. (See it here: author Harmeet K. Dhillon: http://www.flashreport.org/featured-columns-library0b.php?faID=201002150….) On February 16, 2010, I contacted Jon Fleischman, publisher of the “flashpoint.org” website, and asked if he would publish a reply article from me in the interest of presenting both sides of the dispute to his readers. Mr. Fleischman agreed to “consider” my reply article, but after I sent it along to him, he didn’t respond to follow up emails from me inquiring whether he would publish the piece. The litigation dispute doesn’t fit comfortably in the “Democrats are evil; Republicans can do no wrong” mindset that we see so commonly among entrenched party establishment people in California and elsewhere. Democrat politicos do the same thing on their side, of course—it’s the two party ping pong game at work—but I had thought that the LA County Republican leadership dispute would be considered newsworthy by Mr. Fleischman, since it was he who solicited the Harmeet Dhillon article in the first place. Not so, it seems. Here is my responding article to Ms. Dhillon


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