Hillsborough GOP Chair fires back at Greer, Stelling
Hillsborough Republican Chairwoman Deborah Cox-Roush sent the following to members of the Florida GOP state executive committee:
December 26th, 2009
Dear State Executive Committee:
Last Monday, Chairman Greer sent an email to Republican Party of Florida (RPOF) State Committee members and apparently the press, which took public theatrics and drama to an entirely new level. Then Wednesday, Appointed Committeeman James Stelling sent a second email reiterating the Chairman’s points. Chairman Greer’s email cited me under the subsection “ gentle but firm warning ” and Mr. Stelling, though he has never spoken with me and knows nothing of my principles, values or beliefs, accused me of a “ vicious smear campaign”.
Therefore, I am compelled to respond to the members of our State Executive Committee. My response is my own, but it is a reflection of the firm belief of Republicans across Florida.
First: What this is NOT about:
This is not about Governor Charlie Crist or Speaker Marco Rubio . To date, Chairman Greer and Mr. Stelling have attempted to spin media coverage of objections to Greer’s leadership as simple obstructionism to Governor Crist’s campaign for the United States Senate. Let me be clear, as Chairman of the RPOF, Chairman Greer using the apparatus of the RPOF to benefit his chosen candidates is violation of the responsibility entrusted to him to represent all Florida Republicans . As Chairman of Hillsborough, we take no such stand and I encourage our members to pick the candidate of their choice , get engaged and in November we will all come together to elect Republicans .
This is certainly not about Chairman Greer’s family. Let the record reflect – He is the one attempting to use his family as cover in the context of his job performance .
Finally, this is not about Chairman Greer as an individual.
Second: What this IS about:
This is about the perception that the Chairman’s actions skirt, if not plainly violate, the Constitution, and Rules of Procedures of the RPOF .
This is about the perception that the Chairman is not working to develop a strong, effective, well-informed grassroots base for the RPOF.
This is about the perception that the Chairman opposes, the guiding democratic principles historically held by the Republican Party, allowing for free and fair Republican Party Primary Elections .
This is about the perception that the Chairman is using the RPOF simply to advance his own aims and agenda .
Why I stand on my actions to date:
On March 14, 2009 the Hillsborough County Republican Party passed a resolution calling on the Chairman to abide by both the letter and spirit of Rule 8 of our RPOF Rules of Procedures. Specifically, in this Resolution we charged that the Chairman had contravened and ignored the principles set forth in the Constitution of the RPOF, Rule 8 of the RPOF Rules of Procedures. We requested that the party not endorse outside of the guidelines set forth by Rule 8 of the RPOF Rules of Procedures.
The Hillsborough County Republican Party opposed The Chairman’s actions as he sought to persuade the Republican National Committee (RNC) to invoke the obscure RNC Rule 11 with the express intent to hinder or stop a bonafide Republican candidate. Whereas, the existence of RNC Rule 11 is to allow the national committee to pass judgment in cases where a potential candidate is morally flawed. We found his actions in this matter objectionable and outright grievous.
Thus, there has been a continual deterioration in the perception of the RPOF due to the actions of the Chair and staff under his control. Regardless of whether the Chairman planned, authorized or funded any of the following – they all happened on this Chairman’s watch; each contributing to solidify my now firm belief that he is the wrong person to lead the RPOF:
a) A senior RPOF staffer member created a fake Twitter account with the express purpose of damaging the reputation and character of a duly elected local county party chairman – This happened on this chairman’s watch!
b) A paid political consultant on contract with the RPOF, who leases space within state party headquarters, was indisputably tied to the creation of an anonymous website used to attack a bonafide statewide Republican candidate and the Chairman refused to terminate this consultant’s contract or at the very least, speak out against these actions – This happened on this chairman’s watch!
c) Perceived extravagance in RPOF spending, including expensive dinners, massages, chartered airplanes as well as large and expensive staff entourage. The perceived expenditures and financial liabilities have unquestionably attracted the attention of the Party’s institutional donors and many have stopped giving. – This happened on this chairman’s watch!
d) The public destruction of the Party’s American Express cards was an embarrassment. Simply cutting up a credit card will never change the fundamental flaws in a person or organization. Further, as Republicans we should not have to “demonstrate that we were serious about reining in embarrassing stories of European vacations and expensive hotel stays.” Those stories should not happen in the first place. – This happened on this chairman’s watch!
4. The party has three standing committees: Constitution and Rules, Budget and Grievance. The Constitution of the RPOF, states in Article XII that “the state Chairman shall appoint such standing committees as he shall deem necessary with the approval of the Executive Board”. In his recent removal and appointment of new chairs to the budget committee and now the grievance committee, was approval received from the State Executive Board for the new appointees?
In the thirteen months that I have been chairman of the largest REC in the state, the third largest voting bloc in the state, the third largest Hispanic population in the state, I have seen little to no action on the part of the RPOF to prepare county parties to be prepared for victory in 2010. This not to mention the State Party’s limited effort to stop the radical agenda in Washington:
a) Upon my becoming chairman, I along with other I-4 corridor chairman, state committeemen and women met with the purpose of holding a “Youth Conference”. After the influx of youth vote in the Obama campaign, we all knew that the future of the Republican Party lies with our youth. I personally made several requests to be involved in recruiting our youth, even offered to set up a youth conference at one of our college campuses and offered full support to the Chairman and the Party to help with this cause. We did not receive any response, as a matter of fact; we were told that a youth conference would be held in Orlando at the Hard Rock Resort. Ultimately a small conference, featuring Drive the Discussion and Carrie Prejean, was held at our quarterly meeting in Orlando – Despite the claims of hundreds in attendance the real turn-out was pathetic. We had the opportunity to obtain sponsors, work with our college campuses and reach out to our youth through our College Republicans and our Young Republicans, but the requests of those of us on the ground were ignored.
b) I have asked on numerous occasions that we be provided with material, brochures, printed shells, talking points and instructions to further our minority outreach. I spoke on many occasions with our Minority Outreach Coordinators regarding this initiative. I even asked on the monthly chairman’s conference call what the party was providing to the counties to assist with minority outreach. To date, we have received virtually no instructions, support or materials to further minority outreach. The RPOF Hispanic Outreach Coordinator has resigned. We have a huge opportunity to reach out in our counties to like-minded individuals and to date I have seen no support or actions which will help our counties in this effort.
c) After Tampa held the Health Care Townhall, that made national news, I, as chairman of this county, received not one phone call from the RPOF asking what they could help us do to fight the radical agenda, to offer us talking points from the state party to answer the many media requests that were being asked of the party leaders in Tampa. It was as though the State Party was simply an observer.
d) Regarding health care – I spent one weekend studying State Republican Party websites from around the country, all 50 state party websites. I found 33 of those websites to be taking the appropriate stand against Pelosi and Reid’s health care reform. I followed the proper channels as given to me when I became chair and called my RPOF Field Director, George Riley, and asked what the state party was doing to fight the healthcare power grab. What guidance were they providing the Republicans in Florida to fight this agenda? After my call to Mr. Riley, I received a call from Bret Prater of the RPOF stating that by the following week, we would have on the RPOF website a petition that could be signed in support of opposing the Health Care Reform Legislation. I was thrilled with that response. Well, on the following week there was a petition, but in order to sign it, you had to donate. Excuse me, I may be just a new chairman but I could not believe that we expected concerned Floridians to donate in order to sign a petition against health care. Furthermore, we watched as a huge opportunity was wasted, where we could have gathered thousands of names, phone numbers and email addresses of like minded individuals, which could have been added to our supporter base because they had signed our petition.
e) In late July, we were told that within a couple of weeks the party would be rolling out the Voter Registration Task Force. We even completed surveys or informational forms asking us to inform the state party of upcoming events, ideas and needs that the local counties had in order to help with the most important initiative of voter registration. It is December and we have yet to see any sign of the Voter Registration Task Force. As a matter of fact, I specifically asked for the Voter Registration Task Force as well as Drive the Discussion to help in Tampa on September 8 when the University of South Florida new students reported to campus. I never got a response, never saw anyone, and again felt that we wasted a huge opportunity to engage our youth and register new Republicans.
State committee members, as I have demonstrated here, this is simply not about the U.S. Senate race . But, as the Chairman of the Republican Party of Florida, we county officials look to Chairman Greer for the guidance and support that he and the RPOF are uniquely able to provide. To date, that leadership and support has been virtually non-existent. These observations have been so consistent over this past year that I have come to the conclusion that he has no intention of building the kind of grassroots organization needed to win competitive elections statewide which we will face in 2010.
I stand on my actions to date, and affirm my belief that these objections to his leadership are based both on fact and empirical observation and not on any personal agenda or vendetta.
The Chairman and I are in 100% agreement that our party is not on the “verge of irrelevancy”. As a matter of fact the Republican Party at the local level is seeing an insurgence of new people daily who wish to join our cause and our fight to take our country back. I came from the grassroots of this party, and I believe that the grassroots is the heart, soul and strength of the party and it is why I am a Republican today. I will fight every day for the grassroots of the party, for the men and women that are out here knocking on doors, making endless phone calls and in the trenches every day.
Further, I agree that the Republican Party of Florida is in a good position since we have “76 of 120 state representatives, 26 of 40 state senators, Governor, United States Senate seat, and three of four cabinet positions, 15 of 25 congressmen and a healthy representation at the county and city leadership levels. ” However, those strengths are a testament to the conviction, determination, blood, sweat and tears given our party over the last 30 years by donors, good candidates and maybe, most importantly, the grassroots of our party.
Members, I was a devout and committed Republican with a strong belief in the principles and values of our Republican Party before I became chairman, and my commitment to our party has not nor will it waiver. As such, I take great offense in Chairman Greer and Committeeman Stelling’s outlandish and delusional claims that I am part of a group that is “bent on the destruction of the Republican Party.”
This past Tuesday, Senate President-Designate Mike Haridopolos and Speaker-Designate Dean Cannon refused to comment publicly about Jim Greer’s future as Chair of the party, but rather tellingly Haridopolos was quoted in the Orlando Sentinel as saying, “We have not made a decision as to where we’re at.”* For those of us who pay attention, this combined with Senate President-Designate’s apparent commitment to “the re-establishment of so-called leadership funds” speaks volumes.
For months this committee has been quietly sending the Chairman signals of its dissatisfaction, carefully keeping much of the discussion behind closed doors. Media headlines, publicity stunts and public pronouncements will not change that reality – the rocky relationship of the chairman with this committee is of his own choosing.
It is a shame that the perceptions of RPOF are all too often “reality.”
Deborah Cox Roush
Chairman of the Hillsborough County Republican Party
2006 President Tillie Fowler Excellence in Public Leadership Series