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Never underestimate the ability of Republicans to let loose with both barrels directly into their own foot!
Missouri’s February primary, won by Rick Santorum, was a non-binding beauty contest. Delegates are to be awarded this year through the caucus process, and the St Charles County Caucus was to be held today, March 17.
The Caucus meeting was NEVER brought to order.
Standing rules established by the Central Committee included the prohibition of cameras, video or sound recording. This did not sit well with the caucus goers.
One particular individual protested the demand to put away his camera. Central Committee Chairman, Eugene Dokes refused to gavel the meeting to order until the camera was put away.
Caucusgoers sided, quite vocally, with the cameraman! And at that moment Stokes lost control of the caucus! Rather than address the question, perhaps calling the meeting to order and entertaining a motion and a vote on the subject, Dokes dug in his heels. Police were called. Threats of eviction and arrest were made. The caucusgoers became further disaffected, beligerant and resentful.
The venue was booked only till 1:00PM and at 11:30 the meeting still hadn’t been gaveled to order. After amassing what appeared to be nearly the entire St Charles County police department on site, including a circling helicopter, Dokes singlehandedly appointed a chairman of the caucus and other officers – without a vote. This again raised objection from the floor.
After handing the gavel to now appointed Caucus Chair Matt Ehlen, Mr Ehlen called for a motion to adjourn. This was seconded by one of Dokes’ appointees, and the caucus was adjourned over the loud objection of the floor.
No business was conducted. No delegates were selected. Attendees were threatened with arrest for trespassing if they did not immediately vacate the premises. The entire affair was a comedy of mismanagement.
Whatever the results of the Missouri caucuses statewide are, they will have been tainted and skewed by the lack of representation from the largest contingent of Republicans in the state.
If establishment Republicans wonder why the support from the grassroots is waning, the blatent disregard for those who vote them into office and to whom they should be answerable, as exhibited in this circus of a “caucus”, should be ample answer for them!
This is Brent Stafford from Missouri - Updated
This is Brent Stafford. I wanted to let everyone know I am out of jail and am just now starting to read some of the posts about what happened today.
I am actually in my car right now, so I will post more complete details when I get to someplace where I can take more time.
First of all, thank you to everyone who was concerned and calling the police station. Apparently they were getting flooded with calls.
I was trying to reconvene the meeting in the gymnasium, according to the rules, and was told I have the leave the gym along with everyone else or I would be trespassing. I went outside and tried to let everyone know we were going to try to reconvene. Some people we trying to go to a nearby park to do so, but the rules are clear the the caucus may only be held in the location printed in the Call to Caucus printed in a newspaper 15 days prior. The ONLY place we could reconvene was at the high school.
I stood on a chair to address the crowd to let them know we were going to reconvene and what we needed to do. At that point I was approached by told I was under arrest.
More to come...
Okay, I have a minute, and a beer! Here is the saga.
There are three main culprits to today fiasco. Eugene Dokes - St. Charles County Republican Committee Chairman, Bryan Spencer - Chairman of the Caucus Committee for the St. Charles County GOP (he organized the caucus), and Matt Ehlen - The guy the installed as Chairman and who ended the meeting before conducting any business.
I approached Bryan Spencer several times, prior to the commencement of the caucus, to point out where things that were being planned violated the rules. He said, "We are going to do it this way, challenge it if you want." He is the one that was trying to rig the process to select delegates proportionally based on who was in attendance. They conducted a straw poll as people were checked in, in violation of State GOP rules.
The meeting was supposed to begin at 10:00am. There were so many people still in line that by the time the meeting was ready to start it was just after 11:00am.
Eugene Dokes started the meeting by immediately declaring there would be no video or audio recording allowed, and that if anyone refused to stop, they would be removed by police. The entire room of what has been reported as over 2,500 people began booing and demanding that recording be allowed. It was not just Ron Paul people.
Eugene Dokes then refused to commence the meeting until everyone stopped recording. I made multiple attempts to make a point of order to address the situation, but he refused to acknowledge me. He then left the podium and called the police.
There were St. Peters Police, St. Charles Police, St. Charles County Sheriffs, and Missouri Highway Patrol that eventually came into the gymnasium and through threat of arrest made everyone turn off their cameras. Of course many did not.
Eugene Dokes then started to convene the meeting a second time.
Let me digress a moment. We had prepared very well ahead of time. I won't get into all of the details, but the Mitt Romney people agreed to support me for Chairman. This was an incredible vote of confidence in my ability to chair and to convene a fair process. I had also hire the President of the Missouri Association of Parliamentarians who I intended to appoint for that role. I never got that chance.
Eugene Dokes appoint the Creditial Committee, Rules Committee, and Parliamentarian. These are all appointments made by the elected Chairman, not the temporary Chair which is what Eugene Dokes was acting as. The body loudly booed and started making all kinds of points of order and other declarations of disgust at the blatant disregard for the proper process.
He then opened the floor for nominations. I immediately started nominating myself multiple times. He recognized a woman, who was obviously preselected, who nominated Matt Ehlen. At that point about 2,000 people started chanting my name to be appointed. Eugene Dokes ignored that and called a hasty voice vote and declared the one nominee, Matt Ehlen, as the Chair.
Hundreds of people started calling for Division of the vote. Eugene Dokes ignored them all.
Matt Ehlen took the podium and tried to regain order. After anout 20 seconds he declared that St. Charles County would not send any delegates to the CD and State Conventions. He quickly found motions to adjourn and closed the meeting.
At that point I went to grab the parliamentarian I had hired. She had not been allowed inside, because of an arbitrary rule Bryan Spencer made up, but I had checked in with her by sticking my head through the door of and on earlier. I told her to come with me and I headed to the podium. I asked her how to reconvene and since no business had been conducted according to the Call to Convention, we had every right to reconvene.
I took the microphone and announced that people should not leave and that we would reconvene the meeting. Eugene Dokes came up and unplugged the microphone. At that point the police began ordering people out of the gymnasium.
At that point I went outside to try to reconvene the caucus, according to the rules. A number of people were going to go to another location to reconvene. I had to stop those that had not left and explained that we were required to convene at the location published 15 days prior in the newspaper or it would be invalid.
I then found where the biggest crowd had gathered and began to address the crowd. Everyone got quiet to hear me. There were 300-400 people there. I explained very quickly that we needed to begin collecting a roster, as required, and what that meant. I was immediately approached by 4 or 5 police of unknown jurisdictions who made me step down from the chair and put me into handcuffs.
When I asked what I was being arrested for, or if I was being arrested, I was told they would tell me later. Eventually I was booked for trespassing and released.
The actions of Eugene Doke, Bryan Spence, and Matt Ehlen were the direct cause of the event getting out of control. They have tried to shift the blame, but it is all on them. If they had conducted the meeting according to Robert's Rules and the proper order of the agenda, none of this would have happened.