Oklahoma State Republican Party Chairman, David Weston, is reported to have demanded that Carter County republican Chairman, Anna Flatt resign from her party post, after declaring her candidacy for US Congress in District Four. Chairman Flatt is one of the active Republicans running alongside the incumbent, Tom Cole.
The McCarville Report is quoting Chairman Flatt’s recount of the encounter with Chairman Weston.
A Response from Anna Flatt To David Weston
Chairman Weston, When you phoned me last Monday to demand I step down as Carter County Chairman as a result of my candidacy for the Congressional seat held by Tom Cole, you were adamant that there was a rule prohibiting GOP officials from taking a position in a primary, and that by filing as a candidate I was thereby taking a position in a primary. I assured you there was no such rule, and it was up to the Carter County Committee to determine whether I should step down. Even though I will not be campaigning from the position of the Chair, I will absolutely comply with whatever the County Committee desires because it, and not the State Chairman, is the supreme Republican authority in this and every other county in Oklahoma. The Republican Party was set up much like our government, with the power at the lowest possible level: the individual. The individual directs the precincts, then the precincts direct the counties, the counties direct the states, and then the states direct the national GOP. Power in this party and in this country flows from the bottom up, and it is a grievous error to suggest or advocate the reverse. Somewhere along the way the Republican leadership, much like the government itself, lost sight of this fact, and many feel it’s time to steer the party back to its rules and its roots by putting the power back where it belongs: with the individuals. You told me that you would find the rule and phone me back. As I have not heard from you in several days, I can only assume you know now what I knew then: there is no such rule. Further, even a cursory glance at the Oklahoma State GOP facebook page reveals that the state party itself is not complying with this nonexistent rule even while it attempts to foist it on others. As of the date of this letter, the State GOP page still displays a large campaign poster championing John Doak for Insurance Commissioner despite the fact another Republican, Bill Viner, is challenging him for that office. Although, as we’ve covered, there is no rule against such side-taking, it’s certainly an example of the state party not practicing what its chairman is preaching to the rest of us. I’ve since heard from many other candidates who felt they were somewhere between “strongly encouraged” and outright “bullied” by you not to run. Speaking for myself, I certainly felt I was being bullied in an attempt to keep me from challenging an incumbent. I only wish I had thought to record the conversation so that individual Republicans could decide for themselves whether it was an appropriate tone for the State Chairman to take toward a Republican candidate for office and a dutiful County Chairman. The Republican Party is a private organization full of many great members to elect. Every single registered Republican is a potential candidate. I’ve done everything I could possibly do to encourage candidates to file, even ones I didn’t agree with ideologically, because I believe there are many different kinds of Republicans and that we are all valuable to the party. Fair and spirited competition is essential in giving voice to the voters, ensuring the cream rises to the top, and putting the best the Republican Party has to offer on display. From previous conversations, I understand you believe your job as State Chairman is to make sure Republicans are elected at all costs, that if there is a “strong” Republican candidate we should not risk losing the seat by nominating a “weaker” one. This is a popular position that you are not alone in holding. You told me I “could not see past the nose on my face” but maybe it is this “party-first” mentality that is short-sighted. I believe that stifling competition within the party, and by extension the country, has done and will continue to do far more damage than my desire to allow voters more choices ever could. Your way, and that of others who think like you, is to say that the voters can’t be trusted to decide what is best for them when given too many choices, in much the same way the government no longer allows Americans to make our own decisions about our healthcare, about what we grow in our gardens or put in our bodies, about our retirement savings, about who we can marry, about how many bullets we can put in our magazines or how big our Big Gulps are. Whether coming from the Oklahoma Republican Party or the U.S. government in D.C., top-down paternalism is a total abdication of our limited government, free market principles as Republicans and Americans. Many kinds of Republicans feel called to serve and file to run, many will not ever be elected. But that decision belongs with the individual Republicans, not with the State Chairman or any other party official. In some countries the politburo chooses which candidates the people get to hear from, but this isn’t one of them and, God willing, it never will be. Nasty phone calls from the Republican establishment serve only to prove the entire point of my campaign: that this party has become stagnant, lost its way, and is in desperate need of some new blood. I’ve said all along that I am certainly not the best candidate for the job, and I don’t think any differently now. But this experience has proven the value of free and open competition, and so I will continue my campaign despite your indignation, and do my best to ensure that every Republican candidate has a platform from which to speak and that every Republican voter has a chance to be heard.
Carter County Republican Party Chairman
I will take some effort to break down the Oklahoma Republican Rules in Three Parts:
- What are Carter County Chairman Anna Flatt’s duties & rights?
- What are Oklahoma State Chairman David Weston’s duties & rights?
- How are party rules within a county properly adjudicated?
Anna Flatt’s Duties and rights
The Oklahoma Republican Party Rules go into significant detail about the county party structure and interaction. Each County is also encouraged to address county needs through their own additional rules, so long as the rules are properly approved at a county party assembly. I am not currently aware of specific Carter County party rules, so I will need to qualify my statements as potentially moot if a Carter County rule does go further into a related issue.
The only clear restriction I find in the Oklahoma State Party Rules would not apply until a Republican nominee is officially chosen through a lawful means (a primary election). At that point, Chairman Flatt is duty bound to not undermine that nominee through either running in the general election or endorsing someone else who is running against the party nominee.
Most counties have an understanding that the party should, itself, stay neutral, but the individuals can endorse or campaign for themselves or others, but should not use their party leadership credentials for the benefit of one candidate. There is no specific rule being broken in this case. It is usually a self-imposed restriction for unity’s sake.
David Weston’s Duties and Rights
The party does have a rule against using party assets to aid someone who is in a contested primary. Ironically, State Chairman Weston appears to have violated this rule when he used the state website & email assets to promote a fundraiser for Tulsa mayoral candidate, Dewey Bartlett jr. while he was opposed by fellow republican, Bill Christiansen, in 2013. After significant complaints, The Weston administration also promoted a Bill Christiansen event. Perhaps that served to appease the candidates and Chairman Weston retained his office.
But Anna Flatt’s letter makes a point regarding the use of state party assets to promote John Doak. It is a more serious concern, because party assets are being diverted to just one of the candidates. to the harm of another Republican candidate.
Another serious violation of Party Rules may have occurred in Chairman Weston’s alleged demands.
Rule 3- Rights and Qualifications of Members and Officers
(a) Members: All citizens of Oklahoma are invited to join the Oklahoma Republican Party to perpetuate this Republic. All qualified voters of this state who are registered Republicans are members of the Oklahoma Republican Party, and shall have the right to participate in the official affairs and governance of the Republican Party in accordance with these rules as set forth herein. Such right shall be sacred and inviolate, and the willful disregard or abridgment of such right by an officer or member of any committee of the Party shall be deemed sufficient cause for the removal of such officer or committee member.
If it can be demonstrated that State Chairman sought to use his position to improperly & deliberately seek to abridge the County Chairman’s participation, then a “sacred” violation may call for adjudication by the State Republican Executive Committee and the larger State Republican Committee.
Proper Adjudication of Violations
The party rules sate that generally, the same body which appoints or elects a party leader, has the authority to remove that leader. This means that Carter County’s Republican organization is responsible to oversee their leaders and their specific rules.
If Anna Flatt has violated a rule, The Carter County Republican Executive Committee would have to make that finding and refer the matter to the Carter County Republican Committee to take appropriate action, such as a reprimand, restriction, or removal.
These type of actions require a formal notice of impending action with a 10 day notice. The accused is given a full opportunity to defend themselves before the oversight body.
Perhaps a simple clarification from Chairman Weston’s office will put this issue to rest. It is disappointing that this takes precious time and attention away from a candidate’s limited capacity, but if a rule is being broken, then it needs to be respected through proper enforcement of party discipline. However; I am more likely to believe that David Weston is not being properly advised and does not fully understand the rules. I have studied these rules for over 20 years and I am still learning things every year.
I highly recommend that party members be fully aware of the Oklahoma Party Rules, found here: