Home Virginia Politics DPVA Running Another Crooked Convention

DPVA Running Another Crooked Convention

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By Ben Tribbett

Four years ago I was glad to step forward and run for the Democratic National Committee (DNC).  While running against incumbents was hard, I wanted to make a point about the process.  A big part of my campaign was not about the DNC, but about using the position to clean up the corruption in the Democratic Party of Virginia (DPVA).

For those who attended the convention at George Mason University in 2012, you got to see the sleaze of this group up close.  Voting for the DNC was completed at 12:15 PM, but when the party leaders didn’t like the result (one of the slate members didn’t win and was forced into a runoff) they refused to announce it until 2:50 PM, at which time they took the podium to announce that our time in the building would be done at 3:00 PM, and that we needed to vote by “standing up.”  No more secret ballots, but I felt like I had won- because everyone got to see that the DPVA is a complete fraud that can’t even run a fair election

Now the party leadership is back at it again – and breaking their own rules in the process.

To understand what is happening- you have to watch how the “rules” of the game are done. But also understand that if the leadership doesn’t like the rules they just ignore them.  For a convention, there are “rules” passed at the convention. Those are the official rules, while the proposed rules that are given out in advance by the party are the “temporary rules” that only apply until the convention votes.  In other words to avoid a convention from totally changing the way business is done there have to be some other rules governing what the body can take up.

Those rules that govern what the convention can take up are the party plan (which is the top document for the DPVA) and the call to convention.  The call to convention is something DPVA puts out in advance that lays out what business will be conducted and how it will be run.

The party plan in Section 14.5 clearly lays out that a convention “choosing to permit slate voting shall provide in their Call to Convention or Caucus detailed information on when to file slates, how the names are to be listed, how each slate will be designated on the ballot, and anything required to make the procedure clear to all participants.”

This year’s DPVA convention call says nothing about slates.  Since the party plan requires them to be provided for in the call to convention, they are illegal and can not be listed on the ballot.  This rule could not be more clear; in fact, the language at the end of 14.5 makes it even more clear by adding that the purpose of this rule is to make the procedure clear to ALL participants.

Even with this ironclad language, DPVA is ignoring it- and allowing a slate to be listed on the ballot.  This will limit the four new candidates to compete for one remaining slot, instead of allowing the eight candidates to compete for the five total slots.  I hope all the of the new candidates will step forward to condemn this illegal action by DPVA and commit that no matter what the results are that they will ask the DNC to throw out these illegal votes and only seat the candidates who receive the most individual votes at the convention!  Public shaming won’t work; we learned that the party leadership doesn’t mind embarrassing itself at the 2012 convention. So let’s at least make them follow their own rules and run a legitimate election this time.

  • To me, the issue with slates is that they are designed primarily for the purposes of protecting incumbents. That, in turn, is neither small-d democratic nor should it be capital-D Democratic either. The bottom line is that this should be a meritocracy, where the best people – the hardest workers, the ones with the best ideas for winning elections and growing the party, the ones who understand technology and communications in the 21st century, etc, etc. – should win, while those who don’t work hard, have good ideas, etc. should NOT win. I mean, I’d love to endorse more than one candidate for DNC, but what’s the point if there are four candidates essentially guaranteed reelection, while four others run for one open slot? I mean, it would be one thing if Dems had been kicking butt the past few years, but to the contrary, we’ve gotten wiped out in state legislatures and governors’ mansions across the country, not to mention losing the House and Senate. Then there was the fiasco of the DNC’s “autopsy,” plus don’t get me started on burying the Dem debates on Saturday nights before holidays and crap like that. Seems to me that if anything ,it’s time for a major shakeup at the DNC, not the same ol’ same ol’.

    • John Fredericks

      Thank you for this insight. Took guts.

  • John Farrell

    If there’s one way to demoralize the volunteers, it to break the rules either through negligence or malfeasance.

    Yet another unnecessary self-inflicted wound.

  • Joseph Fitzgerald

    Any chance it’s a good-faith error and not corruption?

  • Lake Anne Fan

    This kind of corrupt dealings with the membership is what drives a lot of good people away from the Party.
    Where is the damned broom we keep talking about using on Capitol Hill??

  • Mark Itzkoff

    Ben, according to the Party Plan, slates (where they are permitted by the call to convention) must comply with the requirements for individual candidates “All individuals and slates must meet identical qualifying requirements for appearing on a ballot” DPP Section 14.5. Under Section 20.3, this means the slate must get 50 signatures representing 6 Congressional Districts. Have you checked to see if the slate has the required signatures?

    • Ben Tribbett

      Good question, but they extended slate deadlines, which might explain why!

      • Mark Itzkoff

        Where did they get the authority to extend the deadline? With all the complaints this year that the nominating process is “rigged”, we should be bending over backward to make sure we comply with the established rules and not start creating new rules as we go along.

  • Mark Itzkoff

    By the way, did you notice that under the Call to Convention the meeting is supposed to start at 10 am, but the published schedule now says it will start at 9:30?