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State GOP amends censure rule following Bandera events

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A rule amending the Republican Party of Texas’ Rule 44, which pertains to censure of an office holder, was passed at last week’s Texas Republican Party convention, a move influenced by recent events in multiple counties, including Bandera, according to Dwayne Wright, Executive Director of the Texas County Chairman’s Association.

During the convention in Houston, Wright argued to remove language that would allow censuring of a county chair, a rule change which ultimately passed and is expected to be online by the end of the week.

“Places like Bandera are causing too much collateral damage, like a circular firing squad destroying the party,” said Wright, referring to censure of then-chair Lynn Haueter by the party’s executive committee, who would go to court requesting a restraining order against Haueter when she did not comply with the punitive measures outlined in their articles of censure.

That request ended in a settlement, filed with the district clerk on May 5, in which the five executive committee members who sued Haueter agreed to pay her $2,000 and restored her party bank account access, which was removed as part of punitive measures stemming from the articles of censure presented to Haueter.

Conrad Striegl, onetime member of the party’s executive committee who has since taken office as the current party chair, told the Bulletin in a previously published statement that Haueter was “directed to relinquish the website and all financial assets,” and was removed from said accounts after not doing so.

The aforementioned May 5 settlement also forbid Haueter from using the party’s website or MailChimp application to send out messages until the conclusion of her term as chair.

Both Haueter and the executive committee agreed to keep the terms of the settlement confidential and not make any further statements regarding the case, though per the settlement they agreed to the following statement: “All parties agree that the Bandera County Republican County Executive Committee may issue a Censure Resolution in accordance with Rule 44 of the Rules of the Republican Party of Texas, but only the State Republican Executive Committee may impose any penalties allowed by that Rule.”

Both Striegl (on behalf of the other executive committee members involved in the lawsuit) and Haueter declined to comment following the settlement, but Striegl did forward the Bulletin a quote from Andy Eller, State Republican Executive Committee Commitment for Senate District 24, regarding endorsements.

The full quote is as follows:

“Endorsements in any race including Primaries, Non-Partisan Municipal/ School, and General Elections may be made by each County Executive Committee (CEC) as there is nothing in the Republican Party of Texas (RPT) Rules or the Election Code that prohibits it. There may, however, be a local CEC Bylaw that does prohibit any of these endorsements. There are some Counties in Texas where the County Executive Committee has created a Bylaw that does prohibit endorsements in Primary contests. If that is the case, then endorsements in those races by the CEC are prohibited.

“In addition, any Precinct Chair or any County Chair may choose to make an endorsement in any race including Primaries, Non-Partisan Municipal/School, and General Elections. Their title as Precinct Chair or County Chair may be used in the endorsement.

“The RPT does discourage endorsements in Primary contests as this can create friction within the local Party. However, the RPT encourages endorsements in Non-Partisan Municipal/School races where there is clear difference in the candidates and the endorsed candidate is one that adheres most to Republican Principals.

“Any and all such endorsements are NOT endorsements by the State Party (RPT) or the National Party. In addition, endorsements do NOT commit the local party to spending money to support the candidate that they have endorsed.”

Striegl said Eller’s quote “is the position of the County Executive Committee and has always been so,” although his signature appears on the five articles of censure, a substantive part of which accused Haueter of abusing her title and position to endorse candidates in May’s Republican Primary, citing Rule 44 of the Texas Party’s bylaws and not any county bylaw. Dwayne Wright told the Bulletin there have been multiple cases of censure-related nightmares all over the state, such as in Galveston or Cherokee County, of which the Republican Party of Texas’ general council was not aware.

Wright said these stories, including testimonies from both Lynn and her husband, Bob, helped sway opinion regarding the amendment.

In her testimony, Lynn noted she could not share details because of the lawsuit’s settlement but asked the rules committee to do everything they could to encourage Republican camaraderie. Wright said he feels positive about the future of the party thanks to the rule change.

“Our goal is to go out and help fix it and not have punitive measures tearing the party apart,” he said. “The enemy is at the gate. Not in this room.”