Good for RPT chairman Steve Munisteri for putting an end to Rep. Wayne Christian’s nefarious attempt to be the enforcer of conservative orthodoxy on his colleagues. Readers may recall that Christian (who likes to bill himself as “the only Christian in the House”) successfully maneuvered to become chairman of the platform committee at the Republican state convention last summer, then won inclusion of a plank in the Republican party platform that allowed him to include the legislative agenda of the Conservative Coalition in the platform. It was Christian’s stated intention to report how his fellow members voted and convey a record of their actions to the State Republican Executive Committee–presumably with the aim of turning the 2012 primaries into a conservative jihad against mainstream Republicans. This is an excerpt from his letter to his fellow Republicans [I am indebted to the Quorum Report for providing a link to the letter]: Attached is one additional responsibility we have been given by the Republican Party of Texas. Having the honor of serving as Chairman of the Platform Committee, I was allowed to have the legislative agenda of our Texas Conservative Coalition included in the platform of our state party. I also was given the responsibility of providing a report post-session of our votes in comparison to this conservative agenda, which shall be distributed by the SREC across the state prior to the next primary. This accountability has proven to be the basis of our success as the TCC and has contributed to our becoming the second largest caucus in Texas. Our TCC scorecard is largely responsible for Texans being able to trust that our membership has attained a proven record toward our shared conservative goals. Munisteri moved swiftly to respond: It is my understanding that Mr. Christian proposed this himself, and as Chairman of the Platform Committee, was able to have it passed as a platform plank. Arguably, passing a platform plank in reality, did not grant any legal authority to Mr. Christian to act on behalf of the Republican Party of Texas since it is our bylaws and the Texas Election Code that govern who has the actual authority to act on behalf of the RPT. In contrast, the platform’s purpose is not to prescribe the rules by which the party is to be administered, but is rather, a statement of principles and positions. When there is a conflict between the platform and the bylaws, under Texas law, the bylaws govern the administration of the party. Consequently, arguably, Mr. Christian’s platform plank has no legal authority. Munisteri continues: “[It] is my understanding that when this issue was brought up to past State Chairmen, a scorecard of recorded votes was considered to be a violation of the bylaws as such a scorecard might be used in intra-party contests, and our bylaws specifically prohibit such use, stating “No Party funds or resources shall be used, either directly or indirectly, to influence intraparty contests. Staff members shall remain neutral in intraparty contests for both public and Party offices.” [italics original] The start of the legislative session has not been Christian’s proudest moment. During the rules debate, his colleagues twice put him in the One Hundred Club for proposing amendments that were overwhelmingly defeated. Now his party chairman has spiked Christian’s power play to tattle on colleagues who do not subscribe to Christian’s far-right brand of conservatism.
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