The Death of the Constitution Party
By Daniel M. Hoyt
State Secretary, Wisconsin Constitution Party
Published in December 2006
This week’s Opinion Column is just that – my opinion of what happened in Concord, New Hampshire on Friday, December 1, 2006. It is, for the most part, first hand experience since I was there, although some of this will just be my opinion of what I was told on the phone by others. In any case, it’s a sad day for Constitutionalists across this nation.
What a journey this year has been for the Constitution Party on a national level.
The CP’s year started under a cloud regarding the situation with the Nevada affiliate, the Independent American Party. In April the clouds clashed in Tampa and the thunderous result was a vote to retain the affiliation of the rogue Party, thanks to well rehearsed speeches by Janine Hansen and Bill Shearer. No small part was played by the Party founder, Mr. Howard Phillips as he mused about the National Committee having no authority to act against one of its own.
Well, over the summer many state affiliates chose to remove themselves from association with an organization that would allow for any compromise on the issue of life, specifically abortion and when it might be OK to perform one. “Never” is what we all thought the obvious answer was, but we were all obviously wrong as the leadership of the CP has now pointed out.
Along with those states that disaffiliated, some sent in Resolutions stating that if the National Committee did not re-examine the Tampa vote regarding Nevada and remove that affiliate, they themselves would consider their own disaffiliation Resolution. The Constitution Party of Wisconsin was the first to submit such a Resolution, but the wording was taken from one that had been drafted (but not submitted) by the Georgia affiliate. Later, Alabama and other states considered the same, although I can’t speak to specifics regarding other states.
Well, last week Friday the fatal blow landed solidly on the gavel as Chairman Jim Clymer pounded the coffin closed on the Nevada issue, and the Sanctity of Life plank along with it.
I planned to attend the CP National Committee meeting from the time it was announced. I was able to plan this trip around a family vacation to see my wife’s relatives who live on the east coast. As I was preparing to leave my In-Law’s home to drive the three hours north to Concord I checked my email and saw a note from Randy Hamby, chairman of the CPoW, stating there was something going on at the Executive Committee meeting that involved Michael Peroutka, the 2004 presidential candidate for the CP.
I called Michael to get the information directly from him and he returned my call just as I was pulling in to the parking lot of the meeting location. I’ve confirmed with Mr. Peroutka that this was not a privileged conversation and I am free to write about what he told me. I’ve also confirmed the following with other sources, including Jim Clymer himself.
It seems that Michael Peroutka, the one-time public voice for the Constitution Party, was asked by Chairman Clymer to not attend the Executive Committee meeting on November 30.
Back in June of 2006 the state of Maryland, where Michael is from, voted to disaffiliate from the CP National. In Clymer’s own words, “there is a glitch in the CP Bylaws” that permits past presidential candidates a seat on the Executive Committee, but since Michael is from a non-affiliated state he was no longer welcome to attend. In fact, Michael Peroutka has been labeled an enemy of the Constitution Party and if he had shown up, those who brandished such a label where planning to make a motion to immediately adjourn the meeting. When questioned about the motive behind such a motion Chairman Clymer stated that it was a legitimate motion according to Robert’s Rules of Order and he had no authority to deny such a motion or rule it out of order. HOGWASH!!!
As I stated, this was all relayed to me by Mr. Peroutka via phone so on the morning of December 1st, I was able to speak with Chairman Clymer and confirm that these things had indeed transpired and that Michael Anthony Peroutka was no longer welcome to attend Executive Committee meetings.
Now on to the meeting itself! Pretty standard beginning as meetings go. Call to Order, prayer and welcome, various reports – nothing really out of the ordinary for the first hour. But at 10:00am the agenda called for a look at the 2008 Campaign Strategy. Chairman Jim Clymer had some ideas for what we should focus on but wanted the National Committee to feel as though they were a part of the process so he opened up the floor to ideas for the 2008 presidential campaign.
Not surprisingly the “pro-life” issue didn’t make the top ten – in fact, it wasn’t even mentioned from the floor. (I believe the pro-lifer’s in attendance were sitting quietly, observing the death of the Party.)
When people were done promoting their ideas, Chairman Clymer stated that we shouldn’t forget about “right to life” issues, but that because it was such a confrontational subject no candidate should lead with that issue as their primary agenda.
So it’s official. The “Sanctity of Life” plank of the CP Platform has been given a back seat to anything else. I wonder if they’ll bother relocating that plank to its proper alphabetical location in the Platform, or if they’ll just leave at the top as though it still means something…
Chairman Clymer also stated that during the Party’s search for a Presidential candidate we needed to keep in mind that no one person was going to fulfill everyone’s requirements and there was no such thing as a “perfect” candidate. I found that remark very telling about how far down the slope the CP leadership has come. In 2004, at the National Convention, Michael Peroutka was lauded as “the perfect man for the job”, now he’s asked to not attend meetings.
Seems like insanity doesn’t it? But, it doesn’t end there. I’m no expert in Robert’s Rules by any means, but other meetings that I’ve attended, which operate under Robert’s, have always started the meeting by voting to accept the published agenda. This is done to ensure that there will be no surprises. If anyone has new business to discuss or a change to the published agenda it must be discussed prior to the start of the meeting and the changes must be voted on and accepted before they become part of the agenda.
With that said, two things happened in Concord that were not printed on the agenda. First, the state of Missouri has a new CP affiliate going by the name of — ready… The Constitution Party of Missouri! Now why is that a surprise? Because on July 24 of 2006 the Constitution Party of Missouri voted unanimously to disaffiliate from the CP National. Unhappy with this decision, the former vice-chair of the CPMO resigned her position with the Party prior to the vote. After the vote, she contacted the hosting company for the CPMO’s web site and changed the password and then she went to the Missouri Secretary of State’s office and incorporated the name “Constitution Party of Missouri”. In so doing, she usurped the party name. She then called for her own meeting using the state’s web site and has since been elected to chair the “new” CPMO. A full slate of officers was elected and, at the CPNC meeting in Concord, under the agenda topic “2008 Planning Committees” a vote was taken to accept the “new” CPMO as the affiliate in that state.
Is your head spinning yet? Well, grab your ears, I’m not done!
After lunch, the agenda listed several things, including “New Business”. Under the New Business heading there are two bullet points:
- Date and Location for Spring 2007 Meeting, and
- Date and Location for Fall 2007 National Committee Meeting
What wasn’t on the agenda under new business was a vote to confirm Chairman Clymer’s decision to accept a “Withdrawal Resolution” submitted by the Ohio affiliate as a “disaffiliation”, even though the letter which accompanied the Ohio Resolution stated very plainly that their “Withdrawal” was not to be taken as a disaffiliation. None-the-less, Herr Clymer, the new dictator of the Constitution Party National Committee, chose to disregard the meaning of the Resolution and accompanying letter and apply his own interpretation. He received confirmation of his authority to do this from the Executive Committee on Thursday evening (gee, I wonder why Mr. Peroutka wasn’t welcome?) and then sought and received the rubber stamp of approval from the National Committee with but a few dissenting nay’s.
Why is this such a bid deal? First of all the Constitution of the National Committee states very clearly that only the National Committee has the authority to grant or revoke affiliate status. The Chairman acted well outside his authority by choosing to accept a Withdrawal as a Disaffiliation, and appoint a new Chairman / Contact person for Ohio.
Second, back in Tampa earlier this year the National Committee voted on a new Standing Rule that makes it nearly impossible to disaffiliate any state organization. The Rule states that in order for a vote to disaffiliate a state there must first be a petition signed and submitted by at least 50% of the National Committee representatives from at least 50% of the affiliated states. This petition was to be submitted no later than two weeks prior to the next NC meeting so the potential vote could be published on the “official” agenda for said meeting, and the Executive Committee would then certify the names on the petition at their meeting prior to the NC meeting. If it was determined that there weren’t enough names or that some of the names were not legitimate then there would and could be no vote.
Well, there was no vote regarding Ohio. There was no petition; there wasn’t even a mention on the “official” agenda that this would be a topic of discussion. None-the-less, Ohio is out. You other six states who have disaffiliated already, as well as any states who may consider it, better beware…
The saddest part for me is my simple faith. I truly believed that the Party could be “saved” from itself. That the mistakes which had been made were just that – honest mistakes. My eyes are now fully opened and my disappointment is complete. The Constitution Party is no place for anyone with principles.
If you are a “Club 2000” member who sends money to the Constitution Party on a regular basis, I’d reconsider that investment since it is clear that your money is going to fund people who are without principle or a conscience.
If you are a member of a state that has not already disaffiliated and has no plans to do so, I would encourage you to reconsider that as well. The Constitution Party is no place for principled, pro-life people to call home any more.
There is a group of people in charge who are more interested in power than principle. I even read as much in Chairman Clymer’s most recent letter where he wrote about how well CP candidates across the country had done in the November election and that the CP was garnering enough attention that we would soon have enough political power to actually get things done!
Well, in politics it is all about power, but the CP was founded on “Principle over Politics”, or at least that’s what we were told. In reality, the USTP was founded by pluralists and compromisers who are willing to sacrifice a few babies to achieve their coveted “political power”. Forget your principles; they are mere lip service to attract more sheep to the slaughter as it were.
Nevada remains because of California – those two states combined account for a majority of the CP membership nationally and with that goes the title “third largest political party by voter registration”. Well, I say keep your title and I’ll stick to my principles.
As of January 1, 2007 I will no longer be a member of the Constitution Party of Wisconsin and it is my hope and prayer that the CPoW acts immediately to disaffiliate from the CP National. My reasons are my own and I will provide more detail next week. For now, don’t worry – the door was no where near me on my way out!
Michael Peroutka, 2004 CP candidate for president, wrote months earlier about the Tampa vote not to disaffiliate the Nevada affiliate for several of the candidate’s positions on abortion: