Thursday, April 3, 2008

LDP run by Scofflaws?

Is the Louisiana Democratic Party run by scofflaws?

It's beginning to look that way to me.

My March 27th post about the party's Congressional District Caucus elections not complying with state party by-laws did not prompt action by the party to correct the error. Instead, the leadership of the party worked to suppress the post from various moderated Democratic lists "for the good of the party." I've appealed those decisions, but party insiders who benefited from the tainted elections are part of the appeal process, so I'm not hopeful.

The March 27th post also prompted an after-hours phone call from the party chairman, which I missed. I responded to the call by placing a call to his law office the following day, but he did not respond.

So, on Monday, March 31, I composed a letter (PDF) formally calling on the chairman to call Congressional District Caucus elections in the manner called for in the by-laws. As the image of the letter on the right shows, I cc'd copies of the letter to several key officers of the party: the First Vice Chair; the Parliamentarian; the Legal Counsel; the Clerk; and the Executive Director.

The letter said:

Mr. Whittington:

This letter constitutes a formal call for you, as chairman of the Louisiana Democratic Party (LDP), to enforce the party's by-laws with regard to the formation and election of leaders for the Congressional District Caucuses.

The March 15th elections of chairs for the LDP's Congressional District Caucuses do not comply with the processes specified in Section 17 of the LDP by-laws. Therefore, the people named as holding the 14 seats on the LDP Executive Committee linked to the election of chairs from the seven respective Congressional District Caucuses cannot be considered duly elected.

The number of seats in question (14) constitutes half of the Executive Committee of the party. The failure to provide for elections in compliance with the party by-laws for the Congressional District Caucuses undermines the credibility of the party. The failure to follow the by-laws in these elections also undermines the legitimacy of the Executive Committee and the credibility of its actions.

As a member of the party and as a duly elected member of Lafayette Parish Democratic Executive Committee, I call upon you, the other officers of the LDP Executive Committee, and your staff to follow the instructions provided in Section 17 of the by-laws to convene the Congressional District Caucuses and to then conduct the elections for the offices of the caucuses in compliance with Section 17.

This is not about personalities; it is about process.

Adhering to clearly delineated party processes as specified in the party Constitution and By-Laws builds confidence in the party's systems and legitimacy for the party itself.

Mike Stagg

I mailed the letter to the chairman via certified mail with a signed return receipt (PDF). The image on the right is the receipt for payment of the service and the signed proof of receipt that was returned to me today (April 3).

As the March 27th post explained, this is a matter of "shall" dictating party actions at one point in the March 15th meeting of the Democratic State Central Committee but that same "shall" being declared optional later in the meeting.

This is the very kind of opportunism that created the notion that the LDP is a club operated by party insiders for the benefit of party insiders.

Duly elected LDP officials have been formally notified that the Congressional District Caucus elections held on March 15th do not comply with party by-laws and, therefore, are not valid. They have no excuse for not enforcing those by-laws.

The party website indicates no change in the status of those seated via those invalid elections.

Is the party leadership committed to building the party, as they say? Or, are they scofflaws who can only gain power through manipulation of party processes?

This is not about personalities. A number of the people claiming those 14 seats are friends and acquaintances. It is about building a true party that operates transparently in a manner that builds trust and confidence in party institutions among the members.

So, far, the LDP's leadership is failing this test.

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