Though the 2012 Republican Presidential Caucus in St. Charles County garnered the most immediate negative attention for Missouri Republicans, the Jefferson County caucus that took place in Hillsboro, Mo., the same day seems to be gaining a lot of steam.
In a letter dated March 26, 2012, and addressed to five Missouri Republican Party officials, three individuals challenged the seating of delegates “allegedly elected at the caucus,” contending that “serious and prejudicial misconduct at the caucus — amounting to voter suppression — requires that the delegates allegedly elected at this caucus not be seated at the Second, Third and Eighth Congressional District Conventions on April 21, 2012, and at the State Convention on June 1-2, 2012. If the conduct that occurred at the Jefferson County Caucus is condoned, the Party will only be inviting such tactics in the future.”
The challenge letter, a copy of which I received via email today, featured the signature of Kathryn Biber, general counsel for Romney for President, Inc., and had as-yet-unsigned signature blocks for Dimitri Kesari, deputy campaign manager for the Ron Paul presidential campaign, and Cody Baker, a Romney campaign volunteer and caucus participant from Festus, Mo. I was told by the person who forwarded the letter to me that all three signed separate copies of the letter.
The list of Republican officials to whom the letter was addressed included David Cole, Missouri Republican Party chair, as well as the following representatives of GOP congressional district committees: Richard Magee, 2nd CD chair; Janet Engelbach, 3rd CD chair; Eddy Justice, 8th CD chair; and Ramona Wilkinson, identified in the letter as being on 3rd CD Committee but identified on the Missouri GOP website as secretary of the 9th CD Committee.
The summary of the allegations upon which the caucus outcome is being contested reads as follows:
Several Jefferson County Republican Central Committee Members, who were also supporters of Rick Santorum, forced a multiple-hour delay in the caucus by intentionally removing the registration rolls and credentialing information from the caucus site and thereby preventing any business (including the election of delegates) from being conducted. The intentional removal of registration rolls and credentialing information occurred after a vote for permanent chair that made clear that the Santorum supporters would be out-voted by a combination of Romney and Paul supporters. It was only after a substantial portion of the caucus attendees left in frustration, changing the make-up of the electorate, that the registration rolls and credentialing information were returned and pro-Santorum slates of delegates elected.
The authors of the letter were not finished as the letter continued by outlining the impact of the actions alleged to have taken place and demanding a new caucus be held:
The intentional removal of the rolls and credentialing information by Santorum supporters abridged the collective rights of hundreds of faithful and loyal Republican attendees to elect delegates of their choice. These acts of voter suppression should not and cannot be condoned. The only fair result in this case is to recognize that the intentional removal of the registration rolls and credentialing information caused a de-facto adjournment of the caucus. No business conducted after that point, including the election of delegates, can be considered valid.
It will be interesting to see whether or not the allegations contained in this letter result in a do-over caucus in Jefferson County.