“County Chairman Misbehavior in Office — A County Chairman may be deemed to have misbehaved in office by failing to perform statutory duties, failing to attend four (4) consecutive County Executive Committee Meetings, embezzling County Executive Committee funds, being convicted of election fraud, or other behavior designed to disgrace the Republican Party. A written demand signed by at least a majority of the Precinct Chairman of a County Executive Committee shall be forwarded to the Officials Committee of the State Republican Executive Committee. If the Officials Committee finds that the complaint has merit, the Officials Committee shall conduct a hearing on the conduct of the County Chairman and shall forward a recommendation to the State Chairman for consideration for appropriate lawful remedy.”
Clearly, that Rule provides far too much accountability to the County Executive Committee, composed of the elected Precinct Chairs in each county, for TRCCA not to want to change the provision entirely. Therefore, TRCCA’s President Jack Barcroft proposed to delete Rule 8(k) entirely from the Rules during the State Republican Executive Committee meetings on September 13 and 14, 2019.
On Thursday, September 5, 2019, Rules Committee Chair Jan Duncan, an SREC Committeewoman from the Austin area, notified the SREC members of the proposed change which the Rules Committee would present to the SREC at its meetings on September 13 and 14, 2019. There were other less controversial changes as well.
Late in the day on Friday, September 6, 2019, however, Duncan and the Rules Committee noticed SREC members that the proposed Rules change to Rule 8(k) would differ markedly from Barcroft’s original proposal to delete the Rule altogether. The Rules Committee’s and Duncan’s substitute follows with an ostensible explanation:
“The public call put out for what we decided to do with rule 8K was sent out in error. We must have it noticed today [Friday, September 6] that we intend to amend the rule in the following manner which includes precinct chairs to the process.
“8k. County Chairman Misbehavior in Office Recording complaint against Executive Committee members— A County Chairmanmember of the county executive committeemay be deemed to have misbehaved in office by failing to perform statutory duties, or any item currently listed in Texas election code. failing to attend four (4) consecutive County Executive Committee Meetings, embezzling County Executive Committee funds, being convicted of election fraud, or other behavior designed to disgrace the Republican Party. A written demand signed by at least a majority of the Precinct Chairman of a County Executive Committee shall be forwarded to the Officials Committee of the State Republican Executive Committee. If the Officials Committee finds that the complaint has merit, the Officials Committee shall conduct a hearing on the conduct of the County ChairmanExecutive Committee memberand shall forward a recommendation to the State Chairman for consideration for appropriate lawful remedy.”
In the only use of Rule 8(k) in history, the Republican Party of Texas Officials Committee issued a ruling on October 2, 2018, that Montgomery County Republican Party Chairman Wally Wilkerson failed to fulfill statutory duties as County Republican Chairman and “engaged in behavior designed to disgrace the Republican Party.” The ruling came after a majority of the elected Republican Precinct Chairs in Montgomery County filed a complaint under Republican Party Rule 8(k) that Wilkerson had refused to abide by Texas election law, Republican Party Rules, and the Bylaws of the Montgomery County Republican Party.
Reagan Reed, the Vice Chairman of the Montgomery County Republican Party, said, “Rule 8k very likely kept the Montgomery County Republican Party out of the courtroom last year. Is 8k perfect? No. It needs to be strengthened. But it is a way for county parties to work through their disputes within the party without going to court. Unless the RPT wants to see a bunch of intra-party lawsuits, I strongly suggest they keep 8k.”
The Montgomery County 8(k) ruling was the first time in the history of the Republican Party of Texas that the State Party had found that a County Republican Chairman “engaged in behavior designed to disgrace the Republican Party” and failed to fulfill statutory duties under the Texas Election Code.
The letter ruling requested that Wilkerson and all members of the County GOP Executive Committee:
- abide by the Party Bylaws enacted on June 26, 2018;
- acknowledge that Treasurer John Hill Wertz should be on all Party bank accounts and that Wilkerson provide Wertz with the information to make the Treasurer’s regulatory filings with the Texas Ethics Committee and Federal Election Commission; and
- recognize all results of the June 26 organizational meeting of the County GOP Executive Committee.
The following is an excerpt from the 30-page Rule 8(k) complaint which a majority of the Precinct Chairs of the Montgomery County Republican Party filed against Wilkerson on August 17, 2018, with the State Republican Executive Committee:
At the June 26, 2018, Statutory Organizational Meeting of the Montgomery County Republican Party County Executive Committee, by call and scheduling of the County Chairman Walter Wilkerson, the County Executive Committee (“CEC”) voted to adopt bylaws for the current 2018- 2020 biennium by a majority vote of 39 in favor with 32 opposed. Upon query, Chairman Wilkerson correctly ruled during the meeting that a “majority”vote was required to adopt the bylaws. His Parliamentarian, Jim Wiggins, ruled likewise.
However, 17 days later on July 13, 2018, Wilkerson reversed his position and has made several incorrect public pronouncements that the adoption of bylaws required a 2/3rds vote, so that the CEC adopted no bylaws at the Organizational Meeting.
Subsequently, Wilkerson has refused to recognize the officers elected at the June 26 meeting of the CEC, has locked out everyone from the Republican Party Headquarters for the entire month of July, changed the locks of the Party Headquarters, secreted the financial records, refused to provide the financial records to the duly-elected Party Treasurer, has threatened litigation against the duly elected officers, Steering Committee members, and all Precinct Chairs who voted in favor of the bylaws, and moreover has refused to communicate with any of the officers or Steering Committee members of the Montgomery County Republican Party other than by edict.
Chairman Wilkerson’s actions subsequent to the June 26, 2018 Statutory Organizational Meeting have fomented anger and confusion among the C.E.C. and Republican voters in Montgomery County and has clearly damaged and disgraced the party.
Here is a list of just some of the offenses committed by Chairman Wilkerson since the June 26, 2018 Statutory Organizational Meeting of the MCRP CEC.
- Chairman Wilkerson has refused to post the new bylaws on the County Party website.
- Chairman Wilkerson has refused recognize or post the names of the duly elected officers of the 2018-2020 MCRP on the website.
- Chairman Wilkerson has refused to attend Steering Committee Meetings on July 7, 2018 and July 18, 2018 nor did he attend the August 7, 2018 C.E.C. Meeting and has further sought to delegitimize that C.E.C. meeting even though it complied with the current MCRP bylaws as well as the expired bylaws which he claims are still in force.
- Instead of attending the first Steering Committee Meeting on July 7, 2018, Chairman Wilkerson gave an interview to the Montgomery County Gazette which is published on Facebook and Youtube in which he made false claims about the C.E.C. members who voted for the bylaws. Specifically, Chairman Wilkerson claimed that the C.E.C. members who voted for the new bylaws used “smears and lies” against those who disagree with those who support the bylaws (42:45). Claimed that a private citizen is behind the effort to pass the new bylaws (1:04:55) and accused that private citizen of being guilty of felony voter fraud(1:05:26). Imputed motives upon C.E.C. members by claiming that the purpose of the new bylaws was to overturn his election(10:02 and 41:42). In reference to the member of the C.E.C. who supported thebylaws, Chairman Wilkerson stated, “They are losers to begin with.”(55:01) States that those who voted for the new bylaws are Democrats (41:55).
- To date, Chairman Wilkerson has refused to give the proper notification for MCRP Meetings on the MCRP.org website in accordance with the MCRP bylaws.
- Chairman Wilkerson has also sent out a total of three (3) mailers to thousands of Montgomery County Republican voters in which he presumes to nullify the vote of the C.E.C. for the adoption of bylaws on June 26, 2018 and in which he also attempts to delegitimize the MCRP Steering Committee and all business that has been conducted by the MCRP under the new bylaws.
- Chairman Wilkerson also sought legal advice from the TexasRepublican County Chairmen’s Association (TRCCA). The attorney for that organization, Wade Emmert sent Chairman Wilkerson his opinion regarding the new bylaws (see attached). Emmert is quoted as saying, “I have reviewed the bylaws you sent me and I don’t think these bylaws violate the Texas Election Code.”Chairman Wilkerson failed to disclose Emmert’s opinion to the C.E.C. and has continued to ignore the MCRP bylaws, RPT Rules, Chairman Dickey and even the opinion of the legal counsel that he solicited. After this opinion was emailed to Chairman Wilkerson on August 9, 2018, on August 10, 2018 Chairman Wilkerson sent out yet another mailer to approximately 3,000 Montgomery County Republican voters in which he once again claimed that the new bylaws were not adopted and attempted to delegitimize the Steering Committee.
As the Republican Officials Committee explained in its letter ruling, the Committee provided Wilkerson with enormous opportunities to come into compliance with the County Party Bylaws and the Texas Election Code before the Committee took any action. On Thursday, September 27, 2018, Wilkerson and one of his attorneys John Pettit defiantly told the State Republican Party that Wilkerson had no intention of complying with the Bylaws of the Montgomery County Republican Party.
Despite Wilkerson’s intransigence, the Officials Committee extended the deadline for Wilkerson to come into compliance until Monday, October 1, 2018, at 5 p.m. Approximately 10 minutes before the latest deadline, Wilkerson’s representative Charlie Parada (whose wife Judy Parada is a State Republican Executive Committeewoman who voted on September 22 that the June 26 Bylaws of the Montgomery County Republican Party were adopted in accordance with Texas Election law, Party Rules, and Robert’s Rules of Order) asked for an additional extension before the Committee ruled.
Jon Bouche, who is running for Montgomery County Republican Party Chairman, expressed “reluctance” to comment on the proposed Rule 8(k) change but did confirm “I oppose the proposal to eliminate Rule 8(k). It’s an important tool for activists.”