Over a week has passed since Undercover Porcupine broke the news on a major issue within the Maine Republican Party, and a bit has changed. The answer is in on Ken Anderson’s appeal regarding the Penobscot election, although nobody had the decency to send Anderson the verdict. As was the trend all along, they refused to communicate with him.
In the end, he was declared “not an affected person,” and thus his appeal is invalid.
After a year of chaos ended in massive failure for the Republican Party, it appears that lessons have not been learned. The legacy of coverups and corruption appears not to be restricted to just the Charlie Webster era. After calling in the legal cavalry, the leadership acted more like a dictatorship silencing dissent.
Such a power grab is, however, a dangerous gamble with Governor LePage’s re-election on the line. But perhaps the Governor will be a price the Maine Republican Party is willing to pay to protect the country club.
THE ELECTION: THE “UNAFFECTED” VERSUS THE ILLEGALS
The election, as noted in “The Penobscot Heist: When Republicans Play Like Democrats”, was about as rigged as carnival game booth. To clarify the title, it was indeed a heist. The Republican establishment utilized the tactics of ACORN to turn out illegal votes by non-voting members in order to steal the election. For all the accusations made about Democrats turning out illegal voters and the jokes about voting early and often, the Republicans have become the embodiment of such statements.
It is not clear whether Bryan Daugherty may have won had the election been fair, given the wide range of irregularities. The situation is that uncertain. Regardless, it is unfair to not only Daugherty, but all Penobscot Republicans to disallow a fair election for leadership positions.
It was also clear to every legal member who showed up that evening that something was not right.
Maine Republican Party Chairman Rich Cebra was present for the meeting prior to the election to deliver his unity speech. After he was done, he took off for the door. Penobscot County Committeewoman Michelle Anderson had called Cebra days before the election and pleaded with him to remain for the election, making him aware that the bylaws were going to be ignored and that non-voting members would be attempting to vote.
He didn’t want to hear it. He asked her not to involve him. Cebra finished his speech and headed for the door, much the way he later did with the appeal itself, wanting to avoid controversy and pretend it didn’t exist.
After the leader of the Maine Republican Party made a successful escape, the scam went live. Illegal votes were being cast and proxies were being mishandled, amounting to total chaos. It was a shame that the State Party didn’t station any ballot challengers in Penobscot like they did across the state in November.
As noted in Ken Anderson’s appeal, legal Penobscot County Committee voting member Republican Maria Hodge attempted to monitor the vote count. The request was repeatedly denied. According to Hodge, she was told that the situation was under control.
Well, the Penobscot County Republican elections were about as “under control” as an Iranian presidential election. If your name is Ahmadinejad, then you agree that nothing wrong happened there that day. But Republicans have all been led to believe that the Iranian President is evil and that this issue is of the many reasons why Iran is bad.
The day after the election, Julie Morgan resigned from the State Committee over the situation. At least three others have indicated privately that they are considering doing the same, as the party that claims to be that of integrity, is proving to be anything but.
UNDER THE RUG: TO SILENCE THE “UNAFFECTED”
One cannot be sure what the intent was behind the Maine Republican Party refusing to even acknowledge that something went wrong. Credit has to be given to the top for delaying a response until the last possible minute, however, preventing anyone from filing another appeal.
The issue must be dead. Chalk up a victory for top-down rule.
Surely, everyone knows the “unaffected” better than that.
Despite the cancellation of the March State Committee meeting, word started to spread. The world of social media helped the word spread and members became informed that something was wrong. After all, you can’t mask a bad smell.
When word got out to those on State Committee, who would not be seeing each other for two months, it became increasingly clear that transparency was still an issue within the Maine Republican Party.
After it was revealed a prior to the article going live that Undercover Porcupine would be addressing this issue, it was pointed out that pursuant to Maine Republican Party bylaws, Chairman Cebra still had time to act. This was a few weeks after the filing.
Just how much time does one need to do the honorable thing and make the right call, by assembling a five person panel to properly address the situation with a thorough investigation?
The question is void if your intent is to assemble a shield of lawyers and hide from the situation, which is exactly what happened.
BLOWBACK: THE FAILED OPPRESSION OF THE “UNAFFECTED”
Since day one, the response from the Maine Republican Party has been insulting. When word went public that “The Penobscot Heist” was coming, Chairman Richard Cebra wasted no time axing a number of people, including myself, from his “friends list” on Facebook. Despite Undercover Porcupine heavily promoting the former State Representative’s campaign for the chairmanship, the deleting began.
It didn’t stop there however. Ken Anderson was deleted as a Facebook friend, as was his wife and Penobscot County State Committeewoman Michelle Anderson. The State Chairman began cutting people off, including members of the State Committee.
Such a thin skin for a tough game like politics.
Outrage began to brew, and the excuse began to circulate straight from the top that this was a part of the social media strategy and that a new fan page had been created for the Chairman and he would begin removing friends to convert his page to a personal account.
The timing was interesting. Although two hundred people were removed, several hundred still remained, many of which were political friends. Even Eric Brakey, the Defense of Liberty PAC chairman and former Ron Paul Presidential Campaign State Director who angered Cebra for the rumors spread about him, still remains a friend.
This, along with many other examples, contradict the official damage control attempt by the Maine Republican Party.
It was clear before “The Penobscot Heist” was even written that there would be no negotiation, no steps toward a peaceful conclusion. There would be no resolution. Everything would be done with aggression.
Even though the regime changed, the form of governance still hadn’t.
A leader’s role is to unite and move forward. The major selling point of Rich Cebra’s campaign for the chairmanship was his ability to unite. His proven leadership capabilities in the Legislature had made the case easily. Many people, after the divisive reign of Charlie Webster, were sold.
But there is no unity here.
Ken Anderson’s appeal was an honest attempt to handle the situation internally, without publicly making a scene, and to do so through the proper channels. The Maine Republican Party leadership was not interested.
Given the fact that the party is full of independent-minded conservatives and libertarians, it was quite naive for the party leadership to believe this problem would go away. Now it’s out of control, in the public eye, and dividing the party.
People are outraged by the Chairman and are unenrolling, further hurting the party going into 2014. With Governor LePage’s re-election on the line, the Maine Republican Party is sabotaging the last thing it has left to hang onto.
SMALL TRUTHS: THE SECRET SHUTDOWN OF THE “UNAFFECTED”
Social media is the great political tool which has enabled a greater networking of activists and flow of information. It also scares people who have secrets to keep.
Facebook ignited an interesting and revealing conversation, which started with the Albert Einstein quote, “Whoever is careless with the truth in small matters cannot be trusted with important matters.”
Merely six comments into the conversation, State Senator Andre Cushing took a cheap shot at a private citizen, one who is a registered Republican, by saying, “Interesting quote considering the poster.” Despite a number of individuals requesting he clarify his statement and explain himself, a response was never offered.
Moving forward, the conversation got interesting. Ryan McCabe, a self-described party insider who boasts insider connections, took issue with the hype behind the Penobscot controversy. Stating his belief that the issue was not that big a deal, he said it’s time for Republicans “to move on.” He said leadership had reviewed the issue and Chairman Rich Cebra believes the issue is done. The name dropped next in defense of Cebra was interesting: Governor Paul LePage.
Immediately, people jumped to question McCabe. Instead of a response, McCabe asked me to verify his credibility and record. Although out of respect to him the information offered will not be detailed from the last few months, it can be confirmed he has a significant level of credibility. His words could carry significant truth.
So when the words “The Governor has called for an end to this type of non sense” are written by McCabe, who is making the case that this is a non-issue and it’s time for people to forget it, it can only be assumed he’s implying Governor LePage stands by the wrong.
What does this mean for the Maine Republican Party?
U.S. Senator Olympia Snowe is gone, and both majorities in the State Legislature are lost. All that is left is Governor Paul LePage, who is up for re-election next year.
And McCabe tells us that Governor LePage says move on. Forget it.
Why would a man who rose as the anti-establishment candidate in 2010 be surrounding himself with the corruption in Augusta? What is going on? The uncertainty in the hearts of honest Republicans is growing as they look to the leadership, who is betraying them.
Let’s hope this is not true and that Maine Republicans can rely on their Governor to remain strong on his principles, and that he will deny this report and assure us that he will urge Chairman Rich Cebra to assemble a five-person panel to move forward on an investigation.
Another interesting point from McCabe, who claims direct connections to Cebra himself, is that an investigation has occurred. In this conversation, McCabe has indicated that the Chairman has investigated the matter.
There was an investigation? But there was no five-person panel, as required by the Maine Republican Party bylaws, assembled. No one asked Ken Anderson or any of the Penobscot County State Committee members for evidence or testimony.
Did he take things into his own hands? It would appear, if McCabe’s past record is any indication of his credibility, that an executive decision was made at the very top, without the State Committee.
That is, if this all is true, then there is something very corrupt occurring in the Maine Republican Party. It’s a situation all Republicans need to seriously evaluate going into 2014.
THE REACTION: THE “UNAFFECTED” SPEAK
Although those deemed unaffected have been silenced within their own party, they still speak. Hard-working Republicans and passionate human beings, they feel betrayed by their own leadership.
“It saddens me; no, it disgusts me, to find that the Maine Republican Party does not consider its membership to be ‘affected’ by an obviously illegal election of officers within the party,” Ken Anderson, the individual who filed the appeal with the party, told Undercover Porcupine. “To say that a voting member of the Penobscot County is ‘not affected’ by having his vote discounted by several non-voting members who were nevertheless encouraged and allowed to vote, I don’t even know what to say about that.”
Who could blame Anderson for being at a loss for words? Nobody expected anyone to want to carry on the legacy of Charlie Webster.
“If I am ‘not affected’ by the outcome of an election, then why should I bother voting at all?” Anderson continued, posing an important question for all Republicans to consider. All Maine Republicans need to consider what kind of leadership it has, if said leadership is telling the average voter they don’t matter.
Ken Anderson finally noted: “If the rule of law means anything at all, then everyone is affected when these rules are tossed to the floor.” Unless you’re in Iran. And maybe someone should have told those protesting the rigged 2009 election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to go home, as they were “unaffected” by the corruption.
“If a legal voting member of the county committee is not an ‘affected person’ when his vote is drowned out by more than 20 members who were not entitled to vote per the bylaws, then I don’t know who would be considered an ‘affected person’,” Penobscot County State Committeewoman Michelle Anderson, also wife of Ken Anderson, told Undercover Porcupine. “I contend that every member of the party is ‘affected’ by the fact that the rules are enforced selectively.”
The Andersons must be unreasonable people to demand fairness in their elections and an equal application of the rules. Why should anyone take issue with Republican leadership being aspiring Democrats?
“Throughout the process, I have been very quiet hoping that the procedures within our state party bylaws would bring this complaint to a fair solution,” Penobscot County State Committeeman Bryan Daugherty told Undercover Porcupine. “Perhaps I should have filed the complaint, but it never occurred to me that the Party would assert that I was the only one involved who was an ‘affected person’.”
Daugherty continued: “I personally feel that the decision that was made was extremely disingenuous to the core issues that were addressed in the complaint by Mr. Anderson. The ruling puts forth yet another paradigm of governance from the top down, which is supposed to be the opposite of what we, as a party, believe in.”
He described well how all those “unaffected” feel. This is not what our party stands for.
Julie Morgan, who resigned from the State Committee in response to this controversy, actually made note that this has been going on far longer than most know. In fact, it has been going on since the State Convention last May.
In a statement to Undercover Porcupine, she notes that pursuant to Robert’s Rules of Order, Secretary Wanda Lincoln has certain responsibilities required of her position. Secretary Lincoln is to bring the official membership roll, a list of existing committees and members, bylaws, special rules of order, standing rules, and recent minutes.
Back in June, Morgan requested both the membership roll and county bylaws from Lincoln. The Secretary had neither.
She then took this issue to the Maine Republican Party office, requesting both of these. She did receive a copy of the Penobscot County bylaws, but only a caucus attendee list from February (which is not a membership roll).
Morgan would finally receive the membership roll, but not until January, five days before the officer elections.
“In the seven months that I was active as Committeewoman of Penobscot, not once did we have a membership roll call or a quorum call, and the minutes for the December meeting were never presented or voted on,” Julie Morgan further stated.
The December meeting she is referring to, is the meeting in which the bylaws were illegally suspended.
“I am left to conclude that the secretary, Wanda Lincoln, is either totally incompetent or that the County Committee was deliberately corrupted.”
There indeed is a lot of corruption around. There can’t be this many incompetent people in leadership positions within the Maine Republican Party.
It is not just the opinion of those “unaffected” in Penobscot that this issue needs to be addressed. Russell Montgomery, State Committeeman from Knox County, also weighed in.
“I believe that election corruption at the county level does affect the State Committee as we are made up of elected County members,” Montgomery said to Undercover Porcupine. “I think the State Committee leaders have a duty to investigate county elections if the members witness fraud. The State Committee is the only place the witness can go if his county Chair will not correct the corruption or is the problem.”
Fairness and due process are radical ideas, but it’s clear that it’s not just those “unaffected” in Penobscot who believe it should be addressed, so we can properly move forward.
THE FUTURE: THE “UNAFFECTED” AND THE BATTLE FOR PRINCIPLE
Why does it matter? The truth is, at this point, the issue has become larger than Penobscot. Penobscot’s irregularity-filled, yet officially sanctioned election has only revealed to Republicans that their party still has much changing to do. While many conservatives and libertarians stay true to their principles, the leadership seems to have questionable motives and fails to enact an honest approach to governance.
This is a battle for principles.
In Maine, the Republican Party has made a name for itself with public crusades against voter fraud. With pushes for identification requirements and deploying challengers to ballot boxes, the party has made it clear that it will stop at nothing to cure the problem.
Of course, voter fraud is allowed when it results in a convenient election result.
The Maine Republican Party is doing its best impression of Democratic President Barack Obama. To secure its own elite interests, it is resorting to allowing illegal votes and refusing to address the situation. It’s strangely reminiscent of President Obama’s hypocritical style of aiming to spread democracy abroad, while quickly turning the United States of America into a dictatorship.
Most Republicans don’t approve of President Obama, his totalitarian style, or the idea of becoming just like him. Thus, the power struggle between the top-down elite and the principled grassroots continues.
It’s time for principled Republicans to fix their leadership. Penobscotgate has shown us there is something seriously wrong.
Certainly, this story still has no ending. More will be told with time.