Wednesday, May 21, 2008

RBC Meeting is open to the public

WE'VE MOVED! Democratic Convention Watch is now at

The next big event is not the Puerto Rico Primary on June 1st. It's a meeting of the DNC Rules and Bylaws Committee which will be held on Saturday, May 31st at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel in Washington DC.

According to the Regulations of the Rules & Bylaws Committee for the 2008 Democratic National Convention, Reg 1.7:

Official meetings of the RBC shall be open to the public.
That doesn't mean that anybody can get into the room, but it does mean that the press can be there at the RBC meeting on May 31.

There are more potential delegates being discussed at the RBC meeting (366) than all the pledged delegates left to be selected and the uncommitted superdelegates combined. It's the biggest "primary" left.

Previous posts on the RBC and MI/FL:

Florida and Michigan Delegate Status
FL & MI By The Numbers
Florida and Michigan superdelegates
RBC Member predicts Florida will be seated at 50%
Rules and Bylaws Committee membership
DNC to hear MI and FL challenges on May 31st

The DNC has released more information on the meeting

The DNC has just released the details on the meeting: It will take place in DC; it has a morning session (oral arguments) that begins at 9:30 am ET and an afternoon session (consideration and debate); and it's allowing the public to attend.

But there are caveats to this attendance: Space is limited and guests must pre-register. Also: "In order to maintain the decorum of the meeting, banners, posters, signs, handouts, and noisemakers of any kind are strictly prohibited. Also, please be advised that the agenda for the meeting does not include time for questions from the general public." - First Read


Riah said...

Where is this meeting going to be held? Please update when it becomes available.

Galois said...

Donna Brazile mentioned this fact sometime recently on CNN. One of the anchors talked about how it would like if the Democratic nomination is decided behind closed doors and she shot back that the Democrats don't do their business behind closed doors. It was open to the public and she assumed the cable news networks (or at least C-SPAN) would be covering it live. I haven't heard any word on whether there will indeed be a pool feed, but right now the idea that Michigan and Florida will save her seems to be Clinton's reason for remaining in the race, so I assume the news networks won't hesitate to cover it.

Paul Lyons said...

When and where is the meeting going to be. I am in DC and would make an effort to attend if possible.

Oreo said...

The meeting will be in DC.

trudy said...

Wow, I hope some place on the web streams it. (Got rid of my tv a few months ago.) This would be riveting.

Does anyone know, do they have to decide on the 31st, or might this drag on?

Brian Watkins said...

The Democratic National Convention Committee rules don't apply to the Democratic National Committee's operations.

It will be the DNC RBC (Rules and Bylaws Committee) that decides whether to change its rules and add and MI and FL delegates to the temporary roll for the convention. The DNCC RBC has no jurisdiction over delegate credentialing and will have little influence over the credentialing process..

Only the DNCC Credentials Committee can propose slates of delegates for the convention. And only the temporary roll of delegates produced by the DNC RBC can vote to choose which slate of actual delegates to the convention.

So the meeting on May 31st will be a meeting of the DNC RBC and the DNCC open meeting rule quoted in this post does not apply.

Also the DNC RBC cannot seat any FL or MI delegates. Only the convention delegates can do that. They may or may not decide to add some FL and MI delegates to the temporary roll.

Of course, what the DNC RB should do is butt its nose out and let the DNCC Credentials committee chosen by Democratic voters work it out. The most responsible path for the DNC RBC would be to adjourn immediately when the meeting is called to order and let the Democratic process work.

Good luck with responsible activity from DNC insiders, though.

Galois said...

Article 9 Section 12 of The Charter and The Bylaws of the Democratic Party of the United States (pdf) does apply and it says:

All meetings of the Democratic National Committee, the Executive Committee, and all other official Party committees, commissions, and bodies shall be open to the public, and votes shall not be taken by secret ballot. (emphasis added)

As noted above Donna Brazile (a member of the RBC) confirmed this and was quite proud of the fact. The delegates from Michigan and Florida were stripped for violating Party rules and it is quite appropriate for the Party's rules committee to deal with the issue. As you note, whatever they decide can ultimately be appealed to the DNCC credentials committee, but at least it is a place to start and can help resolve this issue earlier.

Galois said...

I should have noted the rule above was from the charter (not the bylaws). There is another rule from Article 2, Section 10, Rule (i) of the bylaws which states:

All matters referred to any council, special committee, standing committee, conference or other sub-group must be acted upon and said action reported to the body which originated the reference.

I take that to mean that the RBC must take some action on the matter and can't simply adjourn immediately.

Dan said...

Some further details about the time & location of the meeting:

LindaS said...

So I'm sure this has been discussed ad nauseum elsewhere (sorry if I missed something, too, on this blog) but I just wanted to add my 2 cents on what I think should happen with Fl/MI:

Firstly, I hate to see them seated at all, but clearly Dean has said he now thinks they should be seated in some fashion so as not to disenfranchise the voters such that they won't vote Democratic in Nov.; to appease the state Dem. leadership; and because Clinton has spun this into the stratosphere as she tries to claw her way to the nomination.

I think a fair scenario would be to penalize the states by only giving them 1/2 their delegates. But because that is changing the rules in the middle of the stream, the ONLY FAIR WAY to allot those delegates is 50/50 Obama/Clinton; AND do not allow superdelegate votes. The reason to strip superdelegates of their votes, is that they can't be held to one candidate or the other as PDs theoretically can; and the supers are the ones who elected to violate the rules of the DNC in the first place.

Another scenario would be to allow no delegate votes on the first ballot at the convention, but allow second ballot votes with the 50/50 split listed above, and no supers.

It's loopy to give Clinton ANY advantage in a delegate count since she too violated her own rules and those she agreed to with the other candidates THAT THE VOTES OF MI AND FL WOULD NOT COUNT!

So, anyway, I've said my piece--I hope members of the RBC consider this kind of scenario and do all they can to cut off Clinton's threats to take this to the convention.

Colfer said...

The 1/2 penalty has the advantage that it is written into the rules as a sort of default penalty, which can be adjusted... upwards only, apparently, which is what the DCC did back in January or February.

Anyway, this is how the 1/2 penalty works. The penalized states get to seat only:

* half their pledged delegates, rounded down.
FL: 185/2 = 92
MI: 128/2= 64

* only "Add-on" superdelegates, not the other kind (office holders and such).
FL: 26-23 = 3
MI: 29-27= 2

The 3 FL "Add-ons" have been chosen: 1 Obama supporter, 2 uncommitted.

The 2 MI "Add-ons" will be chosen June 14 by the state committee.

I think the August convention can set its own rules. The DCC will decide on May 31 what the allocations are for now. The delegates then go to the convention in August and can vote whether to change the seating. I'm unclear on whether they can only vote on seating plans proposed by the DCC. Anyway, why would the majority change it once they are in charge? Only if it gets very fishy, I guess.

Matt said...

Brian - I need to correct a couple of your statements from earlier today. You said:

So the meeting on May 31st will be a meeting of the DNC RBC and the DNCC open meeting rule quoted in this post does not apply.

The name of the committee is the "Rules & Bylaws Committee for the 2008 Democratic National Convention", and regulation I quoted is from the regulations for this committee that is meeting on May 31. These are the rules for this committee, and therefore of course they apply.

You also say "Also the DNC RBC cannot seat any FL or MI delegates."

That is also wrong. The RBC has full authority to seat or not seat any delegates in any way.

The Credentials Committee, and the convention, can, of course, overturn that decision. But until 56 days before the convention starts (around July 1), the RBC has full authority in this matter.

Matt said...

The Credentials Committee can make any decisions they want. They are not limited in any way by what the RBC decides.

The convention itself can only vote on majority or minority reports coming out of the Credentials Committee.

Galois said...

Matt and Brian--

Just to help clear up some of the confusion here. I do disagree slightly with one thing Matt says. The name of the committee is "The Rules and Bylaws Committee" (RBC for short). It is a standing committee of the Democratic National Committee established by the Charter and Bylaws of the Democratic Party of the United States and is such is often referred to as the DNC Rules and Bylaws Committee to be clear. Matt points to "Regulations of the Rules and Bylaws Committee For The 2008 Democratic National Convention." The "For the 2008 Democratic National Convention" part modifies "Regulations" and not "The Rules and Bylaw Committee." These are regulations the DNC RBC adopted for dealing with delegate selections plans. Regardless of what you call the committee, Matt is correct that these are the rules which apply. The DNC RBC was required to adopt such regulations by Rule 19F of the Delegate Selection Rules For the 2008 Democratic National Convention. and is given jurisdiction to hear these challenges by both that selection plan (Rule 20) and the Call For the 2008 Democratic National Convention (Article II).

This committee is distinct from the Rules Committee which is a standing committee of the Democratic National Convention established by the DNC under the authority of the Call. Brian is correct that the Rules Committee doesn't deal with credentialing (that's why there's a credential committee). It deals with "Permanent Rules of the
Convention, the Convention agenda, the permanent officers of the Democratic National Convention, and amendments to the Charter of the Democratic Party of the United States." But this is not the committee to which Matt referred.

As I noted above ALL committees of the DNC are required to have open meetings and open votes.

Matt said...

Galois - Excellent, thanks for all the info.

DocJess said...

GOOD NEWS -- according to Huffington Post, the numbers aren't there for Clinton's nuclear option (all of Florida and Michigan). It's today's lead.

In a companion article they cite DCW for the list, and then break it out by candidate support of the RBC, with some info on each one, and you can link to the undecideds' web sites if you want to help them by making your position clear.

If the link doesn't work, the title is "Meet the DNC Rules Committee" and it's on the top political bar.

Brian Watkins said...

Thanks to everyone for updates and clarifications.

Just to be precise here, matt writes:

"The RBC has full authority to seat or not seat any delegates in any way."

Actually, the RBC can adjust the rules and seat whomever it deigns on the "temporary roll" of delegates. No one but the delegates themselves can seat any delegates at the Democratic National Convention.