Monday, May 14, 2012

Ron Paul Supporters Allege Fraud as Arizona Republican Convention is Shut Down

Hamdan Azar

“Someone on the stage made a motion to adjourn. People started screaming ‘Nay.’ The convention was declared over. They took away the microphones and began turning off the lights."

Such were the frantic proceedings at Saturday’s Arizona Republican State Convention, in the words of one shaken delegate from Scottsdale, Arizona. Nearly 1,000 Republicans gathered at Grand Canyon University in Phoenix to elect the state’s slate of delegates and alternates to the Republican National Convention.

Thanks to exclusive interviews conducted by Public Appeal, a clear picture is finally emerging of what transpired at yesterday’s convention. Ron Paul delegates came out in force and had a sizable presence on the convention floor. Nevertheless, the meeting descended into chaos on various occasions, amidst allegations of election fraud and disenfranchisement.

Several Ron Paul-supporting alternate delegates complained that the organizers refused to seat them as delegates even though numerous vacancies existed – largely due to Romney delegates who started trickling out of the convention in the early afternoon.

Further disputes arose when the ballots for the at-large delegates were distributed early Saturday evening. Sources report that the initial set of ballots had the Romney-supporters listed in bloc at the top of the ballot with asterisks next to their names signifying “endorsed by the Romney campaign.” The Paul campaign’s slate of delegates was listed on the bottom of the sheet with no such designation.
After protests from the floor, the ballots were sent to be reprinted; however, the new set of ballots still had the Romney delegates listed at the top of the form. There were also numerous allegations of ballot stuffing and Romney supporters being given multiple ballots which they then deposited into ballot boxes despite vocal outcry from Ron Paul supporters.

After at-large voting was completed, the convention proceeded to elect candidates for the National committeeman and commiteewoman positions. According to results announced by Arizona Republican Party Chair Tom Morrissey from the convention floor, Bruce Ash won re-election as committeeman with 436 votes, compared to 297 votes for Paul backer Seraphim Larsen. Karen Johnson, a Ron Paul supporter, won the most votes for committeewoman (329), while Sharon Geise took 274 votes and Lind White 133.

Morrissey then announced that “there will be a runoff [election]” for the committeewoman position – presumably since Karen Johnson had failed to get at least 50% of the votes cast. He immediately proceeded to reverse himself, announcing, “We do not have a quorum to do another election.” He then recognized former Arizona GOP Chair Randy Pullman who spoke something unintelligible, following which Morrissey announced “Meeting is adjourned.” Video footage makes clear that no attempt was made to take any sort of a vote on the issue.

The audience erupted in protest at this point, shouting “Two-thirds vote!,” “Criminals,” and “What about the delegates?” A Paul supporter went to the stage and announced that the chairman had left the building and a new chair election was in order. Within a few minutes, though, police arrived to escort him and the remaining delegates out of the building.

By the time the convention was adjourned – illegally, according to most observers – the congressional district elections had concluded with the results having been announced haphazardly on the floor. The convention elected nine “A” district delegates (1 for each of Arizona’s 9 congressional districts) and nine “B” district delegates – with the understanding that the “B” delegates would attend the national convention only if the RNC reversed the 50% penalty applied to Arizona for holding a non-proportional primary before Super Tuesday. Sources report that Ron Paul supporters won at least 2 of 9 “A” delegates and 6-7 “B” delegates.

At the time of adjournment, the at-large ballots – for 20 delegate slots – were still being counted, a process that was finally completed early Sunday morning for the “A” and “B” at-large ballots. Results have yet to be released. Sources report that the alternate at-large ballots were taken to Arizona GOP headquarters and have yet to be counted.

Curiously, as of Monday morning, there had been little to no coverage of the Arizona Republican Convention in the national media. The one story that was widely syndicated – “Arizona Ron Paul supporters boo Romney’s son off stage” – was wildly inaccurate according to convention attendees. Josh Romney, sources say, was heckled by a handful of individuals but proceeded to deliver his complete speech.

As the article acknowledges, the audience reaction erupted when Josh admonished the delegates to “choose the preferred slate of Mitt Romney delegates.” Romney’s remarks were apparently in violation of the official convention rules, number 4 of which states that “there shall be no nominating speeches for delegates and alternate delegates.”

Several convention attendees suggest that organizers were overwhelmed by the high turnout of Ron Paul supporters and did everything they could to disenfranchise the Paul delegates. After Paul’s historic delegate sweeps in Maine and Nevada last week, the Republican establishment is getting increasingly nervous about the Texas congressman’s growing momentum.

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