It is my understanding that $1.7 Million Plus was spent in roughly 40 counties on mail and slate mail cards in order to influence the outcomes of Central Committee elections. GOP mega-donor Charles T Munger, Jr. largely financed the effort. This I did see on campaign finance filings.
Based on what I have read/seen, it appears that Mr. Munger and a group of smaller donors spent something like $10 million between them on a variety of causes and issues in 2016 alone out of the Spirit of Democracy PAC. This I did see on campaign filings.
There are handful of consultants on retainer at the behest of both Republican Leadership and his independent expenditure committee that give input in to decisions regarding spending. This of course allows those on the payroll to inject their own personal bias in to the recommendations. I only have circumstantial evidence and anonymous testimony from people to validate this claim.
In Butte County, the personal bias of a consultant was clear. The Chairman Mike Zuccolillo was singled out because the Butte GOP allowed a primary challenger to Doug LaMalfa to speak at an event. It got blown out of proportion, money flowed in and it culminated with a disastrous organizational meeting in December. Some people I consider friends ended up on the short end of the stick. Mike Zuccolillo was a well respected county chairman within the GOP. The nexus for this was basically one man that drew targets on a group of people he did not like in favor of legislative staff and the Congressman’s family. It is the opinion of this blogger that people in GOP leadership a hundred or more miles away did not have their own eyes on the ground and the decisions were made in a vacuum.
I feel for those on Butte, because at least when $100k was spent going after me (and others in Placer) in 2012, I had been paid by Andy Pugno in his attempt to unseat Beth Gaines. All Butte did was let Joe Montes speak! I earned the revenge of GOP Leadership because I actively attempted to (GASP!) take out a feckless loser of an incumbent. I do not regret that decision at all.
There were several other counties where money was spent and the nexus was not as clear as political consultant revenge. For example, the moribund Sacramento Central Committee was gutted. Good long time activists of all stripes were blown out in favor of legislative staff and political consultants.
The new chair is a donor. Despite having a 3-1 advantage in votes, the consultants and staffers that won election ran a brutal organizational meeting that was scripted and ended up being a 20 minute jam-down. This is never a smart thing to do when your majority is that large, just do a 2/3 vote to torch debate, don’t brow-beat people. Worse, they massacred stalwarts of the local GOP, as effective volunteers were annihilated along with the bad actors. It is the opinion of this blogger that if you have leadership that has lost their ability to lead, you confront them and give them a chance to resign before running them over with a steamroller. Roger Canfield, Carl Burton and others were discarded. You don’t strip people of their dignity after years of service.
In Riverside and LA County – several bad actors were wiped off of their Central Committees. The San Bernardino Central Committee was almost completely turned over. I don’t know all the players in those tilts, but I do know that the winners and losers were across ideological lines. One Assembly District Cent Com election in LA saw two guys I know to be psychos (both liked to launch anonymous internet attacks, one got a pot lawyer to sue the current Riverside GOP Chairman and lost badly) ousted from that Cent Com.
This is what I do believe: Republican Leadership are desperate to try to get a handle on the dysfunction in Central Committees, volunteer groups and the State Party. As such, they attempt to spend a lot of money to exert control over the process. They just so happen to have a mega-donor. People think it is Mr. Munger making the decisions on his own, no. People think Mr. Munger is targeting conservatives only, no. Don’t use Charles Munger as a straw man, he has a lot of money, but he is not a lone wolf.
I think the approach that was and has been used is wrong. However, seeing the behavior of the Tea Party Caucus and the CRA at the just concluded CRP Convention certainly validates the tact that the CA GOP leadership is taking. But, spending insane amounts of money in 40+ counties creates a permanent class of the aggrieved. Having a small group of people making decisions about party leadership only reinforces the stereotype about the GOP being the party of old, rich guys.
These people (the Tea Party Caucus and the CRA) opposed both the gay guys and the conservative guys from getting chartered. I watch them disrupt floor sessions, attack leadership on social media, blogs, emails, etc. It is the same concept as the content of this blog no one reads but everyone seems to know what’s on. There are consequences to throwing bombs! People want to “get” me all the time I guess the TPCC leadership and CRA get to join the club of targets.
They (the CRA and the Tea Party Caucus) are also fighting to keep the CA GOP tent small, a conclusion that is easy to draw from what they have been doing. It makes it really hard to be sympathetic to those guys when I hear stories from counties all over the north state about jam down leadership meetings. The Jam Downs are Wrong. The Disruption is wrong. No wonder why I can’t sort this mess out…
I am personally ideologically aligned with the Tea Party. Before an inmate uprising in the CRA Asylum, I was an officer of that group and was expelled for life for amongst other things not being Conservative enough. That is just insane, if I am a liberal than most Republicans are flaming communists.
The sad fact is that many in the GOP Tea Party Caucus desire ideological purity over everything, which is why they continue to fawn over proven frauds like Tim Donnelly. This sort of un-discerning and unstable behavior again validates repeatedly the purges brought by CA GOP leadership. They have got to stop making it so easy for establishment types to paint them as the crazies.
I have a lot of friends, who are really good people that also got purged. This is where the leadership are dead wrong. They were not doing their homework the way they should have been and were not out recruiting complete slates of candidates. In other cases, they filed seats with legislative staff who are beholden to their bosses and are not activists at all. As a result, you have some Central Committees that are a bizarre mix of people. This is the case in Placer where Chairman Dennis Revell won by one vote and the other officers, aligned against him all won by 1-3 votes. It is the opinion of this blogger that people whose paycheck comes from the Government as a public employee should not be allowed to serve on a County Party Committee regardless of how conservative they are or how much I like them personally.
I had gone in to the weekend of the CRP convinced that CA GOP leadership were completely wrong for intervening in Central Committee elections. I also thought the Elected leaders were mostly wrong. Then I saw Steve Frank, Thomas N Hudson and others in action and had in front of my face as another case study for why the “leadership” did what they did.
The lack of clarity is infuriating and is indeed a disaster in some areas and a definite gain in others for the future of the CA GOP. There are a lot of people to blame for it. There are a lot of people hurt by it. Meantime, the CAGOP is at 27% and sliding. From where I sit, there is a ton of blame to spread around.
I am tired of seeing people fight to be right. Why not put a sock in it, register some voters and win some elections? Then, maybe “Leadership” would not freak out and spend a ton of money? Maybe leadership should have some two-way communication with elements of the CA GOP they don’t now so well and maybe good people would not get purged?
Just one blogger and veteran of many unnecessary wars asking some questions here.