‘Oh! What a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive!’ — Sir Walter Scott, 1808
Officials representing the St. Charles County (Mo.) Republican Party Central Committee seem to be offering different versions of the events that took place Saturday during the 2012 presidential caucus meeting (a.k.a., “St. Patrick’s Day Massacre”) at Francis Howell North High School in St. Peters.
When GOP Central Committeeman Jon Bennett spoke with a reporter from a St. Louis radio station about the event, he seemed to confirm that the election of a caucus chairperson without opposition was what set off the fracas. Below is an excerpt from the KMOX-AM report published today:
Bennett said that was done to head off a suspected move by Ron Paul and Mitt Romney supporters to “take over” the caucus, and split the delegates between those two GOP hopefuls.
“Is that fair? And of course their argument is going to be ‘Yeah, that’s the name of the game’,” Bennett said later. “Well, you know, we had to do some things that were also the ‘name of the game’. It’s an ugly process.”
Conversely, according to a statement issued by the central committee and found today on the Missouri Political News Service website, County GOP Central Committee Chair Eugene Dokes’ account of what happened (shown verbatim below) conflicts with Bennett’s account:
“It was not our intention to disenfranchise anyone from exercising their free speech rights,” said Chairman Dokes. I deeply apologize for any confusion during the process. We worked hard to follow Robert’s Rules of Order. We put together house rules, and conducted a voice vote. Adding to the confusion was the fact that many people were handed copies of rules before the caucus that were not approved by the rules committee. Many became aggressive and belligerent when asked to follow house rules. At one point, a woman’s hat was ripped off of her head and thrown on the floor and at least 5 people rushed the podium. We would have continued the meeting after the selection of the chair but the police asked us to shut it down.”
If only Republican leaders had focused on truth and transparency as many of the approximately
2,000 1,000 caucus-goers demanded Saturday, I wouldn’t be writing about differing accounts of what happened in that school gymnasium. Because they didn’t focus on truth and transparency, people like me find themselves feeling as if they are without a political party.
For the account of Brent Stafford, one of two men arrested after the event, click here.
For another first-person account of the meeting, click here.
For a non-news media account, the video below offers a flavor of the event.
Be sure to check out my new book, Three Days In August: A U.S. Army Special Forces Soldier’s Fight For Military Justice.
UPDATE 3/22/12 at 5:46 p.m. Central: Preliminary indications are that another caucus will be held, according to this article.
UPDATE 3/23/12 Almost Noon Central: The St. Louis Post-Dispatch just reported that a new caucus will be held April 10 at 7 p.m. at the St. Charles Convention Center and that recording devices will be allowed.
UPDATE 4/11/12 at 7:30 a.m. Central: Ron Paul wins do-over St. Charles County caucus.