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Constitution Party Can’t Read Own Bylaws: August 14 Conventions Miss 60-Day Post-Primary Deadline

South Dakota Republican Party chair Dan Lederman is having all sorts of fun using legal technicalities to keep other parties’ candidates off the ballot and preserve his one-party regime. In his latest attack, Lederman is using party resources to sue to block the Constitution Party’s effort to nominate statewide and Legislative candidates.

Now the Constitution Party has brought this trouble upon themselves. If they hadn’t fractured into warring factions, failed to nominate candidates at their July 14 convention, and wound up with two competing factions staging competing “conventions” on August 14, the last possible day to place candidates on the November ballot, Lederman’s lawsuit would have no ground. But because of undocumented changes in Constitutionist leadership, Lederman’s lawsuit rightly contends that the actual, legally recognizable chair of the Constitution Party, Joel Bergan, filed none of the notices of 2018 Constitution Party conventions and therefore that none of those conventions can place candidates on the ballot. (See more legal footnotage under our CP conversation here.)

Interestingly, for all of his legal gymnastics, Lederman missed a far simpler argument delegitimizing the August 14 conventions. The South Dakota Constitution Party bylaws, which Lederman frothingly cites and attaches to his lawsuit, impose the following convention deadline:

The Call for the State Convention, to be held in election years no later than 60 days following the South Dakota Primary elections, shall be issued by the duly elected Chairman of the State Central Committee [Constitution Party of South Dakota bylaws, Article 7 Section 1, as adopted for 2016–2020, 2016.04.20].

The primary happened June 5. 60 days following is August 4, this Saturday. August 14 is too late. By their own bylaws, which have statutory force, the Constitutionists cannot convene on August 14.

I don’t have to read on to Article 7 Section 2 and ask whether the Constitution Party published notice of either August 14 meeting in a newspaper of general circulation at least fourtreen days prior to the convention. The CP missed its 60-day deadline. The party central committee could get together at the Walmart Subway today and strike that deadline from its bylaws by a three-fourths vote (Article 14), but since the August 14 events were called in violation of current bylaw, those events are null and void. Following a bylaw amendment, the CP would have issue a new convention call (just one this time, shall we?), but notice of a new, entirely legal convention still has to go to the Secretary of State 30 days before it happens, so a convention announced today couldn’t happen until September 1, and that’s well past the August 14 nomination deadline.

The Constitution Party claims to defend the original intent of the Constitution and seeks to “limit the federal government to its delegated, enumerated, Constitutional powers.” Yet by failing to follow its own bylaws, the Constitution Party has denied ballot access to all of its candidates. That’s a shame—as a democrat, I want more parties engaging in elections, and as a Democrat, I want more alternative arch-conservatives on the ballot to dilute the Republican vote and boost Democratic chances (why do you think Dan Lederman is working so hard to legally legerdemain the CP off the ballot?). But when you can’t avoid drama and follow your own bylaws, you can’t expect a place on the ballot, let alone a place in actual government.

By the way, the Constitution Party has deleted all announced candidates from its website except for Terry LaFleur for Governor and Rick Gortmaker for Lieutenant Governor. Gone are Legislative candidates Janette McIntyre and Dave Osmotherly.

12 Comments

  1. Rorschach 2018-08-02

    Dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb, DUMB

  2. Kurt Evans 2018-08-02

    Cory writes:

    Constitution Party Can’t Read Own Bylaws: August 14 Conventions Miss 60-Day Post-Primary Deadline

    Until three weeks ago, no one in the Constitution Party knew that Lori Stacey hadn’t legally resumed her duties as chair, or that the July 14 convention would be invalid.

    … Lederman’s lawsuit rightly contends that the actual, legally recognizable chair of the Constitution Party, Joel Bergan, filed none of the notices of 2018 Constitution Party conventions and therefore that none of those conventions can place candidates on the ballot.

    Prior to the July 14 convention, party members were told by the secretary of state’s office that, according to the most recent records on file, Lora Hubbel was still chair. More than 12,600 South Dakota voters supported the Constitution Party candidate for public utilities commissioner in 2014, and it seems unlikely to me that a judge will keep the entire party off the ballot merely because the convention notice was filed by Hubbel rather than Bergan, especially since Hubbel was acting with Bergan’s full support.

    But when you can’t avoid drama and follow your own bylaws, you can’t expect a place on the ballot, let alone a place in actual government.

    No political party can avoid drama, and you’ve admitted Democrats technically failed to follow not their mere party bylaws, but South Dakota state statute. Can Democrats expect a place on the ballot?

    By the way, the Constitution Party has deleted all announced candidates from its website except for Terry LaFleur for Governor and Rick Gortmaker for Lieutenant Governor. Gone are Legislative candidates Janette McIntyre and Dave Osmotherly.

    Lori Stacey has never allowed anyone else access to the website, even when Lora Hubbel was the legal state chair. Lori has now declared every candidate besides LaFleur and Gortmaker banished for life from the party.

  3. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2018-08-02

    Ding-a-ding! Publication! They’ve cleared that hurdle! (Check: did that notice make it into a print edition?)

    Kurt, as a judge, I would say the 12K+ votes you cite are immaterial to the case at hand. The law specifies what must be done for ballot access. Same as with Lance Russell’s case: the fact that lots of people have voted for one in the past does not allow one to ignore the law.

    Yes, Dems also failed, but they are fixing the problem without drama. We’ll save our fight over party leadership until after the election, when Congressman-Elect Bjorkman, Governor-Elect Sutton, and Attorney General-Elect Seiler can all get into a big fight over who gets the chair next.

    Banished for life from the party? Gee, the bylaws don’t cover that sanction yet. That’ll take another amendment.

  4. Kurt Evans 2018-08-02

    Cory writes:

    Kurt, as a judge, I would say the 12K+ votes you cite are immaterial to the case at hand.

    I know that’s what you’d say as a blogger, but I doubt it’s what you’d say as a judge.

    The law specifies what must be done for ballot access.

    Legal precedent requires statutes pertaining to ballot access to be construed liberally in order to ensure that the will of the voters isn’t thwarted based on trivial technicalities.

    Same as with Lance Russell’s case: the fact that lots of people have voted for one in the past does not allow one to ignore the law.

    Straw man.

  5. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2018-08-03

    Au contraire, Kurt. I appreciate the liberal-construal clause, but which provisions of party bylaws are we to view as trivial technicalities and which are to view as mandatory?

    On past votes: I would say the same thing as a judge. A judge in 2000 couldn’t say, “Well, a lot of people voted for Al Gore for VP in 1996, so in Bush v. Gore, I’m obligated to overlook current legal requirements and protect the will those voters expressed four years ago in a separate election for a separate office.”

    Voters change. Voters’ will changes. Elections stand on their own. 12K+ voters for a CP PUC candidate in 2014 have no bearing on application of the law in the 2018 election.

    Russell’s case is not a straw man; it is a valid analogy.

  6. Rorschach 2018-08-03

    Uh Oh! Writ of Prohibition granted. Better lawyer up! Maybe S’ad Ol’ Son can pay for it.

  7. Lori Stacey 2018-08-05

    Wow, incredible that both Cory and Kurt did no research on the legal filings on SOS website.

    Krebs and Hubbel have lied through their teeth. Krebs claimed the only document she had was a letter stating Lora had been elected Chairman and remained so since 2016. Lora claimed she never really resigned.

    For Krebs to deny the statement of organization right on her website filed 4 days after Lora Hubbel’s resignation clearly showing me legally resuming as State Chairman was ludicrous and counted on people being silly to not even do any research on the subject!

    Disappointing Cory! You usually do the research. If you had, you would have discovered that Krebs lying about what indeed had been filed and available for the whole world to see is actually the exact opposite of what she claims! Lora Hubbel is the one that never filed a Statement Of Organization becoming Chairman and Joel never did because he willingly agreed to resume as Vice-Chairman and for me to resume as Chairman within 4 days of Hubbel indeed resigning. So I was in fact the only one of us that actually filed the appropriate documents, instead of me being the only one that didn’t!

    On day of convention, they only switched to plan B of then Joel supposedly being Chairman instead of Lora is because I had emailed Lora’s actual letter of resignation to Krebs and also reminded her of the statement of organization right on her own website and Committee report showing me as Chairman almost 2 hours before start of convention and let her know U had dated screenshots of docs in case she had a continued case of amnesia!!!

    It was a planned and sloppily pre-organized illegal coup of the leadership of the party. Amendments signed and filed just days before convention clearly were signed as Joel Bergan Vice-Chairman, James Bialota Party Secretary
    and Lori Stacey State Chairman. Joel never had a problem remembering who was who on that day or any other since Feb 6 2017. But Gordon Howie wanted to ultimately become Chairman after all the years of work was done and said he wasn’t waiting until the terms were up in 2020!

  8. Lori Stacey 2018-08-05

    Also, Hubbel and Joel were furious that I had the audacity to invite one of the men responsible for making it all possible, Stephen Pevar of the ACLU to speak for 10 minutes at the convention to members about our victory in federal court and congratulate our party. Both if them showed they had zero gratitude and were still just in the Republican mindset of hating anyone that could possibly be a Democrat. So what!!! We are not Republicans, we are Constitutionists and I made very clear that Stephen will be treated with the utmost respect!!!

    Gordon Howie was asked many times through the years to get involved with the party but him and Hubbel never took it seriously until after all the work was done and I spent thousands of hours on for over 3 years. They even waited until after 9:00 the eve of the convention and had no problem having me continue planning before having Frank the snake National Chairman send me the letter full of lies!!! Poor Stephen was already on the plane to a convention that my family and him did not want me to go to because of the hostile situation and the shock that caused me to relapse in my recovery after a stroke!

    Nice people…. I have resigned from state and national offices because of my health exaserbated by all these constant attacks and lies about me and will leave the party altogether if Frank is not removed from office. New party officers of the REAL party will have all documents and assistance to hopefully get back control of the party from these thieves.

  9. Lori Stacey 2018-08-05

    Correction: 3 years was just on the lawsuit alone.

  10. Lori Stacey 2018-08-05

    In addition, I have never written or said anyone is banished from the party. That is unconstitutional and impossible to stop anyone from registering with a party of their choosing. That was DWC that twisted the truth! State Central Committees of the CP in a vetting process in many states can choose to not allow particular people to seek their nomination for public or party office in order to protect the party label. Nobody banned anyone from being a member. That is ridiculous. A band of thugs already destroying a convention should certainly be an exception to an open convention policy at a second one.

  11. Kurt Evans 2018-08-05

    Lori Stacey writes:

    Wow, incredible that both Cory and Kurt did no research on the legal filings on SOS website.

    I’ve done plenty of research, Lori. After Lora Hubbel resigned on or around February 2, 2017, state party vice-chair Joel Bergan was initially hesitant to assume the chair, but once he’d had a few hours to think it over, he informed you that he’d take the position.

    At that point you told him it was “too late” for him to become chair. You then submitted a campaign finance filing pursuant to SDCL chapter 12-27 on February 6:
    https://sdcfr.sdsos.gov/Document.aspx?DocumentID=17698

    Unfortunately for your ego-driven power trip, you never submitted a filing pursuant to SDCL chapter 12-5, which requires official certification of a new chair to the secretary of state’s office. That means when you told Joel Bergan it was “too late” for him to assume the chair, it actually wasn’t.

    Are you prepared to accuse Secretary Krebs of “lying through her teeth” while you’re under oath in court on August 16? Because I frankly doubt Judge DeVaney is going to find that accusation credible.

    In a since-removed post to the (former) party website, Lori had written:

    All those that have participated in this illegal assault on our party and caused irreparable damages to the party, its candidates and its rightful leadership, will be subject to a lifetime ban from seeking nomination for any public or party office with the Constitution Party of South Dakota. That list, so far, is as follows: Lora Hubbel, Gordon Howie, Joel Bergan and G. Matt Johnson. Additional names will likely be added.

    Now Lori writes:

    In addition, I have never written or said anyone is banished from the party… That was DWC that twisted the truth! State Central Committees of the CP in a vetting process in many states can choose to not allow particular people to seek their nomination for public or party office in order to protect the party label.

    What “vetting process” did the central committee use to ban the candidates you listed?

    Your comments above are time-stamped 3:00 a.m., 4:10 a.m., 4:12 a.m. and 5:13 a.m. During our last phone conversation you wouldn’t say what state you’re currently living in. Is it Hawaii?

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