What happened with the Accountability Rule?

What happened with the Accountability Rule?

Some delegates left the convention on Saturday night when it adjourned around 8:30pm wondering aloud, “Whatever happened to the proposed Accountability Rule?” The behind-the-scenes story began when the proposal was submitted to the convention Rules Committee. It has been reported that the convention Rules Committee this year was essentially the same as the permanent Rules Committee for the GA GOP over the last two-year term. That is significant because it means that our newly elected District Chairs from across the state have not yet had the opportunity to nominate replacement members to the Rules Committee.

With the old Rules Committee members still in control in spite of the changes that were won over the last several months at the district conventions, the Establishment majority on that committee voted to block the Accountability Rule from getting out of committee and on the floor of the convention for any review, discussion, amendment, or vote.

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Many of the delegates were disturbed by the convention rules submitted to the body which included a requirement that rules and resolutions brought from the floor would only be considered if they received a 2/3 majority vote and even then only “without debate.” This language was troubling since it silences the delegates ability to freely exchange ideas and removes their ability to direct and have influence on the party. 


GRA leadership made a valiant effort to get the convention rules amended so that the Accountability Rule could be brought up on the floor of the convention, but the presiding convention Chairman State Rep. Barry Fleming (R-Columbia) blocked it by violating Robert’s Rules of Order so as to prevent any change to the convention rules or the order of the agenda.

NFRA Directors attorney Catherine Bernard(DeKalb) and Nathaniel Darnell (Cobb) each made motions on the floor to amend the proposed convention rules, which were seconded.

Roberts Rules requires that motions to amend be discussed and voted on before the body can vote on the originally proposed item. (See e.g, Robert’s Rules, 12th Edition § 6.5(2).) But Fleming skipped over the votes to amend and proceeded directly to vote on the original proposal without discussing or voting on the amendments. After the body voted to approve the original convention rules, a motion was made to appeal the decision of the convention Chairman. But Fleming did not ask the body to vote on whether his attempt to skip over the amendments was valid; instead, he asked them to affirm whether he counted the vote to approve the original proposal correctly!

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When delegates called “Division!” Chairman Fleming ignored it and moved forward with his original call based solely on his eyeballing of the standing votes in the narrow hall. The bright lights and numerous pillars blocked his view almost entirely of the delegates in the back of the hall, and rather than having the sergeant-at-arms manually count the delegates row by row in the aisles—which is what the motion of “division” requires, he ignored it. This led to many delegates complaining that his perception of the votes were grossly inaccurate, and electronic handheld clicker devices were used to tabulate all other votes in the convention thereafter.

As a Republican state legislator, Chairman Fleming would himself be subject to the Accountability Rule, were it to be successful. This conflict of interest did not go unnoticed by advocates of the rule change, some of whom believed the Accountability Rule was the most urgent and consequential business to be addressed at the convention. 

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The gridlock over the Accountability Rule led out-going Chairman David Shafer to propose a resolution to the GA GOP State Committee on Thursday which called for his successor Josh McKoon to appoint a committee to review the Accountability Rule and other similar solutions, to investigate their implications, and to make a recommendation by October of this year. That resolution passed out of the state committee. Chairman Shafer said that the resolution was “binding” on the next Chairman. McKoon promised that he would appoint attorney and GRA President Alex Johnson, the original author of the Accountability Rule, to that committee.

In previous years, resolutions have been passed to appoint similar committees, and nothing has come from it. We will see if the GA GOP makes good on their word this time.

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