Tone-deaf Newton GOP leaders are actively pushing away elected delegates

One would think that a county Republican Party that has lost three consecutive federal elections to Democrats would embrace new people joining its ranks. It wouldn’t make sense for a party that has lost members at an alarming rate over the last four years due to a lack of any serious involvement by the local party in any local issue to turn away new members.

With that said, people who attended the mass precinct meeting in Newton County on February 7 came home on Wednesday to find a letter, with no return address and no contact number, from the sitting party chair, Delia Fleming, telling them that they aren’t welcome to be a part of the March 14 county convention.

Here’s some quick backstory. Two years ago, the Newton GOP’s executive committee passed a “merit points” system to give a quantitative measure to make sure that those who had done work in the previous election cycle were given priority when it came to selecting delegates to state and district. Seems harmless, right? Well, contrary to the intent of the points system, the Newton GOP chair is now using it to keep duly elected delegates from participating in the county convention.

Word is that at previous precinct meetings, the Newton GOP had some 30 people show up. Many active members saw this as a failure and thought that being involved in the convention process would be an excellent way to get people from our community involved. At the precinct meeting two weeks ago, more than 120 people attended with the expectation that, provided they joined the local party by March 1, as its by-laws plainly state, they would serve as delegates to the county convention.

The extraordinary showing on February 7 primarily revolves around local issues. Recent news coverage of the county attorney, whose law firm was paid more than $1 million in 2014, and some county commissioners’ incredibly dismissive attitudes has motivated many people to get involved in local politics.

This was not what the current leadership of the local party wanted, apparently. People who took time out of what was a beautiful Saturday to get involved later received a letter saying, basically, thanks for your interest and money, but you don’t have enough points to be a part of our party. Word is that even people who were elected to serve as precinct chairs, which are part of county committee, have been disqualified from participation, a move that is in direct violation of Article III, Section J of the county party bylaws.

Obviously, this is frustrating to those who want to be a part of the political process, but they just don’t know how. The actions of the Newton GOP leadership are incredibly tone-deaf and remarkably counterproductive.

The Georgia Republican Party made tremendous and long overdue strides in the 2014 midterm election to broaden its appeal. And yet, at least one county party, which has consistently been outworked by its Democratic counterpart, is determined to disenfranchise concerned citizens who desperately want to be involved and work for change their community.

One would hope that the Georgia Republican Party is watching this unfold and prepared to respond in a meaningful and inclusive way.

[UPDATE – 2/21] Here’s one of the letters. The estimate, to this point, is at least 30 people have received these. Again, the Fleming didn’t put a return address, phone number, or email address anywhere on the letter or envelope in which it was sent.

23 comments

  1. Doug Deal says:

    Show up and vote down the credentials report. Failing that hold a rump convention and select your own slate of delegates and have a credentials fight at the district or state. Failing that ask the district and state to invalidate the slate and give Newton no delegates.

    In any event vote out the idiot who is currently in charge.

    It would be nice if the party would, for once, take a serious stand against the self-styled potentates who think they own the county parties.

    • Lawton Sack says:

      The plain and simple fact of the matter is that the first rule listed in the GAGOP Rules states that any elector of a certain precinct, county, etc. that believes in and is in accord in the principles can participate. The local Republican Party Rules cannot trump the State Rules.

      It absolutely breaks my heart that people who are willing to be a part of the process are turned away, either directly or indirectly. I am thankful that there were people in Bulloch County, GA-12, and the GAGOP that opened the door for me to get involved many years ago. This process has to be fair for all participants, even if they don’t fit somebody’s biased definition of who should be involved.

      1. MEMBERSHIP AND PARTICIPATION

      1.1 . QUALIFICATIONS FOR PARTICIPATION IN PARTY ACTIONS

      All electors* who are in accord with the principles of the Republican Party, believe in its declaration of policy and are in agreement with its aims and purposes may participate as members of the Georgia Republican Party (hereinafter “GRP”) in its conventions or mass meetings. All chairmen and members of committees, delegates to conventions and voters in mass meetings, provided for in these Rules, shall be members of the GRP and must be electors of the respective units which they represent as chairmen, members, delegates, or voters in mass meetings.

      *Defined in O.C.G.A. 21-2-2(7): “Elector” means any person who shall possess all of the qualifications for voting now or hereafter prescribed by the laws of this state, including applicable charter provisions, and shall have registered in accordance with this chapter.

      • ryanhawk says:

        Thanks for all you do Lawton. There are a lot of good people like you doing yeoman’s work in the GA GOP and I applaud you. The first priority for any county, district, or state GOP chair should be to serve as a good host and make everyone who wants to participate feel welcome.

        Unfortunately, not everyone feels that way, and this attitude comes right from the top of the GA GOP. Those who operate from fear –rather than from a basis of civility, conviction, and courage — have no business in leadership positions. But there they are: too afraid of the liberty movement to welcome small L libertarians, lacking confidence in their numbers and resorting to unethical and illegal chicanery to “win” delegate counts. I remain a very active Republican, giving both time and money to candidates and campaigns, but simply can not fellowship with the Georgia GOP as presently constituted. For me, the official state and local parties have become irrelevant and I have no clue why anyone would want to participate in the charade. Even those who become national delegates have no real electoral power as they are pledged to support whomever wins the primary. Put your energy into the primary, and then into the general, friends…

  2. Joseph says:

    As was pointed out at our Rules Committee meeting (GAGOP) this past week, the following is the opening statement of the Preamble of the currently adopted Rules of the RNC…

    “BE IT RESOLVED, That the Republican Party is the party of the open door. Ours is the party of liberty, the party of equality, of opportunity for all, and favoritism for none.

    It is the intent and purpose of these rules to encourage and allow the broadest possible participation of all voters in Republican Party activities at all levels and to assure that the Republican Party is open and accessible to all Americans.”

    https://s3.amazonaws.com/prod-static-ngop-pbl/docs/Rules_of_the_Republican+Party_FINAL_S14090314.pdf

    • ARAR says:

      we have to be careful as almost everyone at one time was a Democrat and not a Republican, so we must be open to everybody. we cannot close our party. if you were a Democrat on Friday and show up and claim to be Republican ON SAT, you are… remember… ” the world is run by those that show up” when those that show up are not in agreement with us, we still have to go by the majority, even if we don’t like it.. showing up is the battle..it is not taking over if you have the votes, I have seen that in my own District and, I didn’t like it, but the votes were there and
      they elected who they wanted… this is our system at its best…

  3. eschristian says:

    Doug Deal, thank you, and agreed. Working on several things & will definitely include this as well.

    Joseph, I think I will bring this up at our local meeting on Monday 2/23/15: the opening statement of the Preamble of the currently adopted Rules of the RNC…

    “BE IT RESOLVED, That the Republican Party is the party of the open door. Ours is the party of liberty, the party of equality, of opportunity for all, and favoritism for none.

    It is the intent and purpose of these rules to encourage and allow the broadest possible participation of all voters in Republican Party activities at all levels and to assure that the Republican Party is open and accessible to all Americans.”

    I agree with the above statement. We should be growing the party, especially in a county that has lost the past three election cycles to our opponents on the left. It’s quite apparent that pushing people out of the party, alienating everyone by racist & rude remarks by “leadership” & behaving as they are now = a losing formula, as well as a hit to the Republican brand. It is time to as Doug said, “vote out the idiot who is currently in charge” & the ones aspiring to be in charge that are working with the current “leader”.

    Thank you Jason for helping keep sunshine on (yet again) bad behavior by the Newton GOP!

  4. LindaLR24 says:

    Do not stay home because of this letter. Fight for your right to be a part of the party and to be the delegate you showed up the first time to be!

  5. NorthGAGOP says:

    Are Delia Fleming and Tim Fleming related? If they are, it doesn’t look to good for SoS Kemp’s number one guy to be involved in these silly games.

    • eschristian says:

      Yes NorthGAGOP, this is Delia’s son. The same Tim Fleming (Deputy Secretary of State) that campaigned during a contested Republican primary in Newton County & had his boss (Brian Kemp – SOS) do a robo call during this same contested Republican primary in 2014 for none other than Fleming’s dad that was running for office again (& lost again)!

      It’s not that the Flemings didn’t know better (they did), they just didn’t care. They were alerted to this at the last MPM & an appeal was filed at that time due to their behavior at the MPM. It was only stopped because the grassroots decided in an effort towards peace & trying to bring our party together that we did not proceed with an appeal to the state party, or other options that were on the table at the time. So how was that peace offering repaid? See above article. This time is actually worse because not only did they break Georgia Republican Party rules, they also broke state election law! Imagine that, mom of the Deputy Secretary of State breaking state election law in an even more blatant manner, wow!

      http://sos.ga.gov/index.php/General/department_directory

      O.C.G.A. Georgia Election Code 21-2-111: (c) The respective county executive committees of each political party shall formulate, adopt, and promulgate rules and regulations, consistent with law and the rules and regulations of the state executive committee, governing the conduct of conventions and other party affairs. No such rule and regulation shall be effective until copies thereof, certified by the chairperson, have been filed with the superintendent of the county.

      O.C.G.A. Georgia Election Code 21-2-112: A county committee must comply with the orders, rules, or regulations of the state executive committee.

    • ryanhawk says:

      On the contrary, the state and district chair needs to initiate contact with both the local leadership and the delegates to resolve this issue. That is the kind of leadership that would squash toadies before they further embarress the Georgia GOP.

      I would recommend, at the very least, having the district and state send someone with strong knowledge of the relevant rules and having that person nominated as chairman of the county convention.

  6. sgothard says:

    If you reside in Newton County, Ga and are a conservative or registered as a Republican, you must, must, must take 2 seconds and read this article. This happened to the majority of my precinct including Barry and myself. Not only is this ethically questionable, but furthermore Barry and I have participated in campaigns and have never been instructed by the party that a “merit” form was required. Barry and I have been registered Republicans in our county since 2000 and have voted regularly and yet when trying to become more actively involved we are disenfranchised immediately by the Party we have supported for 15 years. They took our money at the meeting, verified which precinct we are in, had us participate in live voting and fill out all necessary forms at the meeting and never once “checked” everyone’s “merits” for qualification. I wonder why now it is important? My question is where are the notarized merit forms for each year since this has been implemented for those who are in leadership? If they have followed their own rules to the letter since implementing said rule then it gives credibility to their claim. If not, it weakens the Party and the Democratic process.

    • Jason says:

      My question is where are the notarized merit forms for each year since this has been implemented for those who are in leadership?

      This is a great question. I’ve been a dues paying member for nearly a year and attending meetings for a little longer than that. I’ve never been given an update on my “merit points.” It’s also worth noting that, in light of all this and after they received new email addresses at the MPM, the county party hasn’t sent out an email about the meeting scheduled for Monday evening.

    • Will Durant says:

      “…it weakens the Party and the Democratic process.”

      Actually the emphasis of Party over the fundamentals of right and wrong often override the Democratic process, the good of the nation, state, and local governments as well. This is why some of us no longer identify with a Party.

    • eschristian says:

      I’ve met so many people, that are entering the political arena for the first time. For the very same reason I did back in 2007. I had voted since I was 18-years-old but one day I realized government was not functioning as it was founded. Taxpayer dollars were not being utilized responsibly and freedoms were beginning to fade away at the hands of politicians that were more interested in deals that benefit them & not the taxpayers. Politicians that feel that we the people are here to work hard so that we can serve them. I entered politics then to help fight to return the government back to the people from those who held political office that behaved as stated above.

      Over the past few months here in Newton County, I’ve met a large number of people from this great county that have the same motivation to get involved in politics that I did back in 2007, for the very same reasons. We work hard for our money & to watch 1.2 million taxpayer dollars flow to an arrogant man that has been county attorney here in Newton County for almost 4 decades (39 years), it’s enough to motivate all citizens of this county to get involved. A man that did not pay his taxes for many years, ironically!

      http://www.11alive.com/story/news/local/investigations/2015/01/29/lawyer-making-millions-on-taxpayers-behind-on-taxes/22474273/

      To watch what the County Chairman and the majority of her officers did to this great group of new faces in this county, that want to work hard for our county Republican party was not only disgraceful but also disrespectful. If she were to do the right thing, she would write a second letter to every one of these folks and apologize to them for her bad behavior that was in contrast with Georgia Republican Party rules & would resign from her position, as well as any officers involved in this. But doing the right thing is so far has not been her thing, so not holding my breath. But I will continue to fight hard to hold her & the others accountable by every available option, via appeals through the Georgia GOP and legally (criminal & civil).

  7. Aaron says:

    This family also has had involvement with Newton County’s “Million Dollar Attorney”. It is sad that people who became involved due to the exorbitant spending by our local government are being turned away. This is an abomination of what our party is supposed to stand for!

  8. saltycracker says:

    The interesting Newton Co demographic changes are a growing minority population and a substantial percentage increase in the families under the poverty level.

    The Democrat party offers other people’s money now, the GOP plan of opportunity, restore personal pride and get folks out of poverty ?

    • eschristian says:

      saltycracker – see below to see that who we are dealing with are not interested in minority involvement or votes, sadly. The racist statement by the current chair is what got me reengaged in my local party. I was not happy to say the least!

      • saltycracker says:

        In Georgia neither party has a problem with a tax delinquent serving office as long as some promise is in place and there is no sign of dealing with that or term limits, another problem.

        Never underestimate grass roots in neighborhoods. As for your local cartel, voters are not that stupid but do have a tendency to pick candidates within their party of choice. So run a Republican you and those like you support. If that fails, find the nearly extinct blue dog. If that fails then compare taxes, future issues and relocating. As I tell my GOP buddies in DeKalb, beating your head against the wall burns calories.

  9. eschristian says:

    My husband received his letter yesterday. The exact same letter as shown above. In an envelope that had no return address, and as you can see above no return contact info to respond to the Newton County Republican Party. Ironically, I received a similar letter a few days ago, in a similar addressed envelope, also without contact info or a return address, saying that I was going to be a delegate.

    In this case, the Chairman has really shown that this was delegate suppression in an effort to try to decrease the large numbers of those that showed up to the Mass Precinct Meeting. Reason I say that, let’s look at my and my husband’s participation in the party, as well as, our history with the Republican Party.

    Myself – lifelong Republican, voting since 1994 when I turned 18-years-old. Yes, I entered the world of voting with Newt Gingrich’s Republican Revolution. I never got involved in local politics, or the local party at that time because quite frankly, I did not know it was there, or that it existed here in Newton County. Fast forward to 2007, I was involved in the Fair Tax organization and met some people from a neighboring county that were involved in their local party. My response, can I come to your county’s events because I don’t think my county has one? They said sure, and I became active with the Rockdale Republican Party. I met the Chairman at that time, Kellie Pharr, she helped me meet up with my local party here in Newton. I met our prior Chairman Steve Bray and he immediately welcomed me into the party. I became a member of my own county party & eventually became 1st Vice Chairman of the Newton GOP in 2009. I then was blessed and met my husband & ended up moving to Rockdale County. I stepped down as 1st Vice Chair as I was moving out of the county, plus at that point I was seeing some counterproductive energy and ideas by the Chairman at that time (another Fleming). After being married, my husband & I decided in 2011 to move back to Newton County to be closer to family here. At the time I had just encountered a surgery and was pregnant with our baby, so I did not immediately reenter politics. However, in 2012 when the current Chairmen Delia Fleming & a few members of her Executive Board sent out an email that said that they had seen Democrats voting. Myself & others then asked what does a Democrat look like? We were told, “the blacks are out there voting, we know they are Democrats”. Conservative black people that had voted Republican in the past were very offended, as they should be & it was then in there I immediately became reengaged in our local party, as well as my husband. At the MPM in 2015, I was elected by our precinct caucus to serve as the secretary for our caucus. I signed off on the delegate list, with our precinct Chairman & my husband was on the list as we voted on the slate of delegates, & he was one of the delegates chosen to represent our precinct at the County Convention next month.

    My husband – lifelong Republican voting since 1988, he voted for President George H. W. Bush in the first election he was eligible to vote for President, he was too young to vote for Reagan. Like myself, my husband didn’t know about a local party until he too began to see changes in our freedom, increases in our taxes, and basically an undoing of all the good President Reagan had brought to this nation. So in June of 2009, my husband reached out to the Rockdale GOP and became a member of their GOP. He joined their party, was picked by the Rockdale GOP Executive Committee to replace a retiring Precinct Chairman of the Rockdale Precinct. He served in that capacity until we moved back to Newton, which at that time he resigned as he would be residing in Newton County. As stated above, we did not get reengaged here in Newton immediately due to my surgery & the birth of our baby but after the racist remarks by Delia Fleming and members of her leadership, he also became in engaged.

    That is our history with the GOP. Now let’s look to our actions in the past year. We both volunteered and worked hard for a Republican candidate for State House 112 race in 2014. We both attended meetings but had to alternate because we do not have a consistent babysitter and our son has special needs and is more comfortable with one of us, we even alter our work schedules because of this. Therefore, it is not feasible or even possible at times for both of us to attend every meeting. We were both planning to pay the annual membership dues at Monday’s meeting (2/23/15) before the 3/1/15 deadline. And yet still, we who have equal work in the party, equal participation, and standing in the party received 2 letters – one who “qualifies” and one who does not. Which, questions how exactly does Delia Fleming and her officers/executive committee determine whether or not if someone has “fulfilled their requirements” under “Article II – Party Membership of Newton County Republican Party By Laws”?

    Oh and one other thing, party rules/criteria only apply when determining district and state and national level delegates. It also breaks state election law. Hope it was worth it Delia! Hope you look good in stripes or orange!

  10. Doug Deal says:

    In my opinion, the action of the chairman was completely out of order because the convention is in charge of its own credentialing, not the current officers. The state rules (which are superior to the county rules) make it clear that the precinct officers will certify their list of elected delegates and those will be filed with the state. It does not state that an edited list will be sent based on the opinion of the sitting county chairman.

    Even if such a rule were valid, it would be up to the credentials committee disqualifying those delegates in their report and having the delegates vote to seat or not seat them.

    It is hilarious when people pretend that they are just enforcing rules, but they only enforce the subset of rules they support while ignoring those that stand in their way.

    Someone in the 4th district or the state should make the choices for Newton Co. clear:

    1) let those delegates in or
    2) lose your delegation at the district and state convention.

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