RNC calls 'frivolous' lawsuit by Ron Paul supporters
June 19th, 2012
01:34 PM ET
2 years ago

RNC calls 'frivolous' lawsuit by Ron Paul supporters

Washington (CNN) - The Republican National Committee is brushing off a lawsuit against the party by Ron Paul supporters as "frivolous" but it is nonetheless coordinating a "joint defense" effort to fight the legal challenge, according to an internal RNC memorandum obtained by CNN Tuesday.

The complaint, filed in U.S. District Court in California last Tuesday by over 100 self-described delegates to the Republican National Convention in Tampa, alleges that the RNC and its chairman, Reince Priebus, quietly and improperly aided Mitt Romney throughout the GOP nomination fight.

– Follow the Ticker on Twitter: @PoliticalTicker

– Follow Peter Hamby on Twitter: @PeterHambyCNN

The legal filing, which names Priebus and GOP chairmen in every state as defendants, "seeks the guidance of the court" on whether the plaintiffs are free to break with certain state party rules and vote for the candidate of their choice at the August convention.

The plaintiffs claim that so-called "binding" delegate rules – in which delegates are required to vote for the winner of their state's primary or caucus at the convention – violate federal law and prevent delegates from exercising their "Constitutional right to vote their conscience" in Tampa.

Because delegates may shift their votes at the convention, they argue, Romney does not yet have the nomination locked up.

According to the complaint, however, the RNC and affiliated state GOP leaders systematically "engaged in a scheme to intimidate and harass" delegates supporting candidates other than Romney during the nomination process.

– Check out the CNN Electoral Map and Calculator and game out your own strategy for November.

This "harassment," the suit alleges, included numerous violations of party rules, threats of violence, ballot tampering at state conventions and "intimidating demands" that delegates sign affidavits promising to vote for Romney.

The Paul campaign, now in limbo but still aiming to have a prominent voice at the convention, says it is not involved in the lawsuit.

"We have nothing to do with it and do not support it," said Paul adviser Jesse Benton.

RNC Chief Legal Counsel John R. Phillippe Jr. informed Republican state party chairman of the lawsuit on in an internal party memorandum Tuesday morning and asked if they want to add their names to the party's defense.

"It appears that all of the Plaintiffs are supporters of the candidacy of Ron Paul," Phillippe wrote.

He added: "We view the suit as completely frivolous but one to which a serious response must be made."

Phillippe said the RNC is planning to present a "joint defense on behalf of all the Defendants" and has scheduled a conference call this week to discuss the matter.

Asked about the complaint, a spokeswoman for the RNC said "we're not worried about it."

Richard Gilbert, the Santa Ana, California attorney representing the Paul supporters, said the suit is "clearly not a frivolous case."

"When the RNC calls this frivolous, I think it's very telling about how the RNC has no respect for the delegates at the convention," Gilbert told CNN. "And that's disappointing. As Mitt Romney would say, I would bet you $10,000 that not one their lawyers say to federal judge that this is a frivolous lawsuit.

"These are delegates to a national convention who are asking the judge for guidance whether to follow federal law or whether to follow state party rules or state bylaws," he added. "How can that be a frivolous case?"

Also see:

Major GOP donor eyes $100 million in donations

Rubio to shelve GOP immigration plan

Romney credits governors with states' success


Sunny Romney predicts Wisconsin win


Filed under: 2012 • RNC • Ron Paul
soundoff (54 Responses)
  1. Rudy NYC

    The plaintiffs claim that so-called "binding" delegate rules – in which delegates are required to vote for the winner of their state's primary or caucus at the convention – violate federal law and prevent delegates from exercising their "Constitutional right to vote their conscience" in Tampa.
    -------------–
    If you had any doubts about the sanity or insanity of Ron Paul and his supporting cast, this should lay any doubts to rest. Hey, man. The rules are the rules and the rules were set at the last convention in 2008.

    All of this noise about "freedom of speech" is hypocrisy of the worst kind. What about the "freedom of speech" of all of the voters who voted for a candidate so that the delegate would vote for that delegate? Wouldn't allowing the delegate to change their mind violate the "freedom of speech" of all of those voters?

    Isn't the election supposed to be about the voters, not the delegates, anyway? But, don't get me wrong. I'm glad to see the lawsuit. It is another petty cash bandit for the RNC. It is another source of bad press because we see more signs of a Republican Party imploding itself with more and vigor as the general election nears.

    June 19, 2012 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  2. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    There has been a lot of corruption in the republican primaries. It seems that the winner got fewer votes but the state chair declared Mittens the winner anyhow. Prince Reebus is an embarrassment.

    June 19, 2012 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  3. Orwell Sees it, ta da, again

    National Republicans from Wisconsin screwing over Republicans from Florida.

    Clogging the courts with disputes, controlled by liberal lawyers and Activist Republican judges.
    Just capitulate, roll over dead; or you will be run over.

    Is there no decency left in the world?
    My mistake I meant, is there no decency right in the world?

    June 19, 2012 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  4. Malory Archer

    What a great way to get Paul supporters on board for mittens! NOT!

    June 19, 2012 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  5. LeadPoop

    I don't necessarily agree with the lawsuit but I believe there is truth to their arguments! The RNC has nobody to blame but them selves. Ron Paul has been completely ignored by the media and RNC. Ron Paul supporters have been assaulted, arrested and so much more! The RNC has been pushing Mitt Romney from the start. I mean come on, Mitt Romney is exactly the same as the President. They have the exact same policies. Like I said, I don't really agree with the lawsuit though. I would just vote for whoever you want at the convention, doesn't really matter if they don't except your vote or not. The media will not be able to ignore that fact!!

    June 19, 2012 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  6. vote the Tea Party OUT in 2012

    come on Priebus go after them like you do Obama supporters.

    June 19, 2012 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  7. John Major

    We shall see how frivolous it will be. See ya all in Tampa.

    June 19, 2012 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  8. Matthew Papke

    Actually the RNC has ruled many times that delegates are not bound. As recently as 2008 they made this ruling. The US Supreme court has also ruled this as well. Binding is a form of coercion and is flatly illegal.

    June 19, 2012 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  9. Woman In California

    Asked about the complaint, a spokeswoman for the RNC said "it's a frivolous lawsuit and we're not worried about it."

    First of all, no lawsuit is frivolous (especially when we are trying to elect the POTUS). While it will probably be thrown out – there is some truth to what these people allege and I am not a RP supporter by any means. Willard was bought and paid for just like a c a l l girl before the others had any chance. The problem will be proving it as his "clients" want their monies worth but I'm glad the Paul supporters are not going to let Willard bully them this time. In the meantime, Priebus will try and blame it on the president as usual. What an idiot.

    June 19, 2012 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  10. California Gary

    Ron Paul and his supporters are nothing if not entertaining. They are fun people! Go Ron......turn that convention on its ear.

    June 19, 2012 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  11. trex

    .....paulbots..........cant tell when they have LOST.....................................

    June 19, 2012 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  12. Sven

    So then, what exactly was the point of the primary process in the first place? If the votes make zero difference whatsoever, then why go through this costly and time-consuming process? Further, why should American voters support a man who is doing everything in his power to ensure that their votes don't count?

    June 19, 2012 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  13. Jc

    "What about the "freedom of speech" of all of the voters who voted for a candidate so that the delegate would vote for that delegate? Wouldn't allowing the delegate to change their mind violate the "freedom of speech" of all of those voters?"

    No. The primary and caucus format are just polls. Preference polls. The delegate process ensures that the most active participants in the process are involved. We are a Democratic Republic not a democracy. Democracy is mob rule and it's a poisonous way to govern. The masses have been fooled before and tricked into voting in dictators and oppressors. In a Democracy, the only rights the minority has are the rights afforded to them by the majority. We elect the best and brightest NOT the most popular. This is why we have an electoral collage. If you want mob rule find a different country.

    June 19, 2012 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  14. Arizona Marine

    What bothers me the most about all this is the lose of integrity of the process. When fraud is committed, we call it what is is ... when delegates are intimidate and physically assaulted we have to stand up and simply say "This is wrong!" What is happening here is that many people have been awoken to the reality of the situation and that the "Republican Establishment" will go to extremes to intimidate, threaten and coerce their delegates to vote the way they wish. Shame on the RNC!

    June 19, 2012 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  15. anonymous

    Ron Paul 2012 – forever

    June 19, 2012 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  16. Jc

    "....why should American voters support a man who is doing everything in his power to ensure that their votes don't count?"

    Surely you're talking about Romney and his campaign.They've physically assaulted Ron Paul supporters. The Ron Paul supporters have been following the rules. Rule 38 says that delegates at the National Convention are unbound. This lawsuit is the only way to force the RNC to live up to their own rules.

    June 19, 2012 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  17. Rudy NYC

    LeadPop wrote:

    ...The RNC has nobody to blame but them selves. Ron Paul has been completely ignored by the media and RNC. Ron Paul supporters have been assaulted, arrested and so much more! The RNC has been pushing Mitt Romney from the start....
    ----------------–
    If you were the RNC, then you would have been pushing Romney from the start, too. You saw what the rest of the field looked like. I am sure the RNC wanted to get most members of that field out of the public eye, and back into their places of origin.

    Paul has not been ignored by the media. Don't forget. Ron Paul ignores the media. Most especially after he walked out on the CNN interview, he has avoided all media like the plague.

    June 19, 2012 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  18. Enigma729

    This lawsuit does not only cover Ron Paul delegates. There are supporters from Gingrich, Santorum, Palin and Cain as well because they know they will also be covered in this lawsuit. Federal law trumps rules. Look it up. Do some research.

    June 19, 2012 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  19. The REAL Truth...

    It's hilarious to watch the GOBP self-destruct. Many of RP's voting block fully believe that this approach is the only way to regain control from the Teapotter's and other extremist elements trying to control said party. It's so nice to see that the Party of "NO!" is no longer saying no to just Obama. No to RP and his crowd is just as delicious to watch. It'll make for great entertainment at the upcoming RNC circus.

    June 19, 2012 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  20. Jc

    "Mitt Romney is the worst Republican to run against Obama" -Rick Santorum

    June 19, 2012 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  21. Jc

    "Paul has not been ignored by the media. Don't forget. Ron Paul ignores the media. Most especially after he walked out on the CNN interview, he has avoided all media like the plague." – Rudy NYC

    Do you remember the hour long + debate where Ron only got 87 seconds of talk time? The media is most definately ignoring Ron.

    He did not walk out of the interview. He ended it there's a difference.

    June 19, 2012 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  22. WhereIsPalin

    You can't question their loyalty........only their sanity.

    June 19, 2012 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  23. linuxj

    @ trex

    .....paulbots..........cant tell when they have LOST.....................................

    those paulbots elected all those deligates that are also paulbots that sit in most of the seats at your local RNC meetings and will be there for decades to come...IT HAS JUST STARTED....those who are lost shall find there way...to FREEDOM

    June 19, 2012 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  24. strayaway

    This hostility of the RNC toward Ron Paul supporters goes back a few years. At the 2008 Nevada convention, when RP supporters started winning delegates, the convention was shut down and the RNC eventually came in and appointed McCain delegates. This pattern has continued in many states with Paul delegates being arrested while Roberts Rules were ignored. Time for a little payback neocons- your days of corruption are numbered.

    June 19, 2012 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  25. Patriot Awesome

    Go Ron Paul! A good solid half of what he stands for is awesome. All of what Mitt stands for is lame.

    June 19, 2012 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
1 2 3