Republican Elitists Exclude Fellow Legislators from Secret Policy Chat

The SDGOP spin blog tries to portray Republican legislators’ exclusive, invitation-only listening session last week as no big deal. Rather than address the elitist, anti-populist nature of the event organized by Republican Rep. David Johnson, Pat Powers diverts attention to the ongoing food fight for which he blames ultra-conservatives who violate the Reagan’s 80% rule and call fellow Republicans mean names.

While Powers remains mired in inside baseball, the story of real public interest is still the secretive nature of Rep. Johnson’s meeting with chosen and unnamed Black Hills bigwigs:

Johnson said 107 invitations to the event were distributed to community leaders, and the 40 attendees included Republicans, Democrats and independents who hold local or area leadership positions in realms including business, education, city government, public safety, law enforcement and health care. Johnson declined to release the list of invitees, saying he would rather allow the invitees to identify themselves if they wish. He said the event was funded by the legislators out of their own private funds [Seth Tupper, “Invite-Only Event Exposes Local Republican Rift,” Rapid City Journal, 2017.09.12].

Come on, Rep. Johnson: it’s not like you guys discussed secret plots or criminal activity. You tell Tupper that you discussed “poverty and its impact on early childhood education and the workforce; infrastructure problems related to airports, highways and railroads; and taxation.” I’m having a hard time thinking of any good reason for a public official to keep secret the names of forty prominent local leaders gathered in a room to give that public official and his colleagues ideas for those important areas of public policy.

Rep. Johnson’s exclusion of ultra-conservative legislators from the event reinforces the image of elitism:

Johnson said the seven legislators who organized the event wanted to hear nonpartisan ideas from local leaders about community and economic development. Johnson said the organizing legislators also wanted to set aside — for one evening — heated arguments about controversial social issues including transgender bathroom use and gun rights, which have been frequent topics of debate in recent legislative sessions.

…Inviting certain other legislators to participate, Johnson said, might have caused the event to veer into a discussion of those social issues and taken the focus off the intended topics [Tupper, 2017.09.12].

Rep. Johnson breaches protocol here, suggesting that only he and his chosen GOP friends are capable of staying on topic and that other duly elected representatives of the people are incapable of sticking to a meeting agenda. I hate to cite Rep. Lynne DiSanto as a credible source, but she seems to get the elitist slight:

“I would say I think the concept of having a cracker barrel specifically related to ideas around business and economic development is a fantastic idea,” DiSanto said. “And I believe that if it would’ve been presented to us that way, everybody would’ve been respectful of keeping it within those parameters.”

DiSanto said it was wrong for seven legislators to host a meeting similar to a cracker barrel while excluding other legislators and the general public [Tupper, 2017.09.12].

Johnson’s secret meeting was disrespectful to fellow legislators and, more importantly, to the public at large and representative democracy. No more star chambers, Rep. Johnson—if you think your party and your voters need to spend less time discussing guns, gays, and God and more time discussing community and economic development, don’t hide the latter conversations. Hold them in public, invite everyone, and model in the spotlight the kind of discussion of bread-and-butter policy issues of which you think we need more.


8 Responses to Republican Elitists Exclude Fellow Legislators from Secret Policy Chat

  1. Sure sounds like a way to ask for money to me.

  2. Roger Elgersma

    Any meeting for the community and about the future of the community should be open to the community. Especially if it is a government group since the government is for the people by the people. Or at least that is what it is supposed to be. The government makes the rules so in a democracy all should be included.

  3. Here we’re talking about Republicans on the one hand and Constitution Party people masquerading as Republicans on the other. If there are colleagues you really don’t agree with who are hung up on social issues uber alles, can you not organize and hold a meeting on non-social issues without inviting them? I don’t see any problem with this meeting.

  4. Donald Pay

    I understand Ror’s point. You shouldn’t have one topic dominate the session. You can do it a better way, though. Have an agenda that sets aside a half hour for each topic. Cover topics that legislators want input on, and those of others. Have several follow up meetings, if necessary. I think a legislator should listen to all points of view on all topics, though.

  5. It does seem odd they would leave two of the prettiest but insanest ladies in the legislatures out of the meeting.

  6. Ror, I could go there if we were only talking about regular folks. I’m not obliged to invite Pat Powers and Gordon Howie to my house for every conversation I want to have about public policy.

    But we’re talking about legislators holding exclusive conclaves with chosen publci leaders and excluding fellow legislators from their own party, signaling their lack of faith in their fellow caucus members’ ability to respect a meeting agenda. Rep. Johnson may have the right to tell Rep. DiSanto to sit on a tack, but we should at least recognize that he is telling a fellow legislator, “I don’t trust you, and I think you’re too dumb or too infatuated with a single issue to have a civil conversation about other issues.”

  7. I wanna know who they are. “107 invitations to the event were distributed to community leaders, and the 40 attendees included Republicans, Democrats and independents who hold local or area leadership positions”

    public policy formulated in the dark leads to exclusion of democracy

    nationally/globally, these following are the establishment elitists, and their chicanery … and have been for 50 years: ”

    Fox News – was an offshoot of Rupert Murdoch’s decision to build a television network around his $1.6bn purchase of the rights to broadcast NFL games, from CBS in 1993. He wanted a news program that was an answer to the widely viewed CBS program 60 Minutes to tap into the viewing audience spillover from the NFL football games, so he brought in Roger Ailes.
    Ailes, a media consultant for Richard Nixon during his 1968 presidential campaign that saw the “antiwar left and black people,” as “enemies” whose political strategy was to publicly “associate hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin…then criminalizing both heavily…,[to] disrupt those communities,…arrest their leaders, raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news.”
    George H W Bush’s 1988 presidential campaign, put Ailes behind the attack ad known as the “Revolving Door” which played on historically entrenched stereotypes surrounding black men, like “Willie” Horton, a convicted rapist, walking in and out of prison implying Democratic candidate Michael Dukakis was not tough on crime. They finished off Dukakis who as Massachusetts governor, vetoed a bill that imposed fines on teachers if they did not lead their classes in the pledge of allegiance; despite the 1943 US supreme court holding that requiring public school students to recite the pledge, violated their right to freedom of expression.
    Last year octogenarian Murdoch was forced to fire Ailes from Fox for sexual harassment, married the Rolling Stone Mick Jagger’s ex-wife, the druggie hippy fashion model Jeri Hall, and now his corporate monopoly and journalistic chicanery in Great Britain is subject to focused regulatory scrutiny.
    This week Fox chose to blackout the black NFL players taking a knee, sitting, or raising a fist during the televised Star-Spangled Banner, exercising their first amendment rights in protest of police brutality as well as the white players willing to show solidarity with their black teammates.
    These people. Murdoch, Ailes, Bush, even Jeri Hall, and the likes of the Kochs, the Mercers and Putin’s puppet Donald Trump, demonstrate no ethical national morality. They want less taxation and regulation, and more military/mercenary force for their hidden global billions and trillions.
    The First Amendment is our, the rest of we the peoples’ few remaining protections for a free society guarded by an independent press, from the greed of these exploiters.
    https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/sep/14/fox-americans-nfl-players

  8. Ms. leslie, you don’t get to know who they are.