Is politics only for the rich? Del. Bob Marshall thinks it should not be.

People often refer to money as the lifeblood of politics, and there is something to that assertion. However, what is more important is energetic volunteers. What gets our best candidates elected is people talking to people. People going to the neighbors and asking them to vote gets voters to the polls.

Democrats work double time to tag Republicans as the party of the rich. Although this charge is hypocritical, we can make it true. We can start by having conventions for rich.

Nov. 16, 2010

MEMO TO:    Party Chair, Members of State Central Committee, Interested Republicans

FROM:            Delegate Bob Marshall

Policy & Constitutional Concerns with Mandatory Delegate and Candidate Fees

Concerns over proposed mandatory state convention fees were brought to my attention by several grassroots Republicans.  From additional conversations, I believe most of the Republican workers we depend upon to win elections are not aware of these proposed changes, nor their possible effect.

What fees are being proposed for delegates and candidates to statewide conventions?
Delegates to statewide nominating conventions may have to pay up to $50 each and candidates may be charged up to $25,000 (original recommendation of $50,000) if Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli’s proposal is approved.

Why are these fees being suggested?
The stated purpose for the fees is to pay for expenses of the convention.  Expenses for the 2008 and 2009 Conventions have been requested but have not been released.  Republicans who decry blank check funding by Democrats should first explain expenses and analyze ways to achieve convention solvency before proposing mandatory fees.  In other words, “promote efficiency before raising taxes.”

What are the practical problems with charging fees to help pay for a convention?
Most campaign donors give checks of less than $50 to candidates.  Will a married couple with two college students pay $200 to attend a convention?  Mandatory fees of up to $50 per delegate and up to $25,000 per candidate will discourage some Republican voters (especially those with children) and candidates from participating in conventions.  Fewer convention attendees will mean fewer energized volunteers for General Elections.  Volunteer activity and its impact on campaigns cannot be measured in dollars and cents. Large fees will make the party seem elitist.  Some dismiss the potential $50 fee and point to citizens who paid $40 to attend the recent two-day Richmond Tea Party Convention but the event does not compare to a nominating convention.  In this economy, fees will most likely decrease, not increase, participation.

Can the Republican Party legally impose mandatory convention fees?
Before mandatory fees can be imposed, the U.S. Justice Department must approve them.  In 1966, a Virginia plaintiff, under the Voting Rights Act, challenged a mandatory fee to vote at the 1994 Republican U.S. Senate nominating convention.  The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that: “… A fee of $45 to cast a vote for the Party nominee is … a more onerous burden than a mere obligation to include certain public information about oneself next to one’s name on a nominating petition.” (Morse v. Republican Party of Virginia, 1966)

Will the Justice Department consider the costs of running a convention in deciding whether to approve these fees?
The Justice Department will not decide this matter based on saving RPV money.  It will examine if fees are allowed under the 24th Amendment which ended poll taxes, and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 which affects Virginia and other southern states due to its history of discrimination.

Do mandatory fees throw up cautionary Red Flags under the Voting Rights Act?
Yes!  The 2006 U.S. House of Representatives Committee Report number 109-478 accompanying the 2006 Voting Rights Act explained:  “In 1982, Congress … found that ‘despite the gains in increased minority registration and voting and in the number of minority elected officials . . . continued manipulation of registration procedures and the electoral process, which effectively exclude minority participation from all stages of the political process’ continued to occur. …  Congress reiterated its intent ‘that protection of the franchise extend beyond mere prohibition of official actions designed to keep voters away from the polls . . . include prohibition of State actions which so manipulate the elections process as to render the vote meaningless,’ including ‘atlarge elections, high fees and bonding requirements …'” [page 10]

In 2006, every Virginia U.S. Senator and Congressman (D’s and R’s) voted to extend the Voting Rights Act for 25 years, despite Virginia’s election of America’s first black Governor.  The 2006 Amendments to the Voting Rights Act provided that: “Any voting qualification or prerequisite to voting, or standard, practice or procedure with respect to voting that has the purpose of or will have the effect of diminishing the ability of any citizen of the United States on account of race or color, or in contravention of the guarantees set forth in section 4(f)(2), to elect their preferred candidates of choice denies or abridges the right to vote within the meaning of subsection (a) of this section.”

Will mandatory fees affect minority participation?
Mandatory fees could impact participation of minorities.  It may not be prudent to even raise this question with Barack Obama’s Department of Justice under U. S. Attorney General Eric Holder.  Recall, that this year the US DOJ  declined to prosecute Black Panther Party members for obvious voter intimidation in Philadelphia.  There are no minority Republican members of the General Assembly or Congress.  Also consider that this year’s only Republican minority Congressional candidate, attorney Chuck Smith from Virginia Beach, complained in public that he had little support from the Republican Party.

The October 24, 2010 Politico report, quotes Lisa Creeden, Chuck Smith’s campaign manager:
“Campaign managers for Chuck Smith in Virginia … said the support they’ve received from GOP leaders this cycle has been dismal. … Smith’s campaign manager, Lisa Creeden, said she wishes her boss could count on the party’s help;  ‘I think the Republican Party is going to damage themselves with the African-American community,’ Creeden said. … ‘We’re looking at pastors who have stepped away from the Democratic Party machine to say we can’t support this man anymore and we want the Republican.”  She added that the GOP pulled the campaign’s access to a voter vault earlier this year.  ‘We have repeatedly asked them for support,’ Creeden said.”

Do mandatory Convention fees violate the 24th Amendment ban on poll taxes?
While there is no direct case on this point, the Supreme Court has struck down wealth distinctions as a condition for voting: “a state violates the … 24th Amendment whenever it makes the affluence of the voter or payment of any fee an electoral standard.  Voter qualifications have no relation to wealth nor to paying or not paying this or any other tax … The principle that denies the State the right to dilute a citizen’s vote on account of his economic status … bars a system which excludes those unable to pay a fee to vote or who fail to pay … Wealth … is not germane to one’s ability to participate intelligently in the electoral process.  Lines drawn on the basis of wealth or property … are traditionally disfavored …” (Harper v. Virginia Board of Education, 1966).

How do Conventions, Primaries, and Party Canvasses differ on fees?
Presently, conventions request, but do not mandate fees.  There are no fees to vote in a Party Primary which allows military personnel to participate even if out of the county.  Primaries do cost the taxpayers, but few complain about Republican or Democrat giveaways of hundreds of millions in taxes to big corporations for “economic development.”  Party Canvasses are separate elections held in each city and county conducted by Republican Party officials, with possible fees to be determined. Because there is no oversight by state and local Boards of Election, questions could arise about the integrity of the process.

How do the proposed fees compare with present fees?
At present, there are suggested, but no mandatory fees for delegates to participate in a convention.  Presently, all primary candidates pay  the Commonwealth of Virginia 2% of the annual salary of the office sought (VA Code Sec. 24.2-523). In 2005, AG candidate Bob McDonnell paid $3000 for his primary against Steve Baril.  A fee change would mean an AG candidate in 2013 would pay eight times that amount.  I believe it will be difficult to justify this disparate candidate convention fee vs. the much lower primary fee under Voting Rights Act requirements.  Increased fees may also lead to criticism that some statewide incumbents are seeking to insulate themselves from competition.

I urge Republican Party leaders to reject these mandatory state convention fees.

If you wish to share your concerns regarding the proposed fees, please share them with RPV State Central Committee Members whose e-mails may be found at: http://www.rpv.org/about/page/state-central-committee.


Delegate Bob Marshall
R – 13th District of Virginia

Other Views

At Too Conservative, LloydTheIdiot argues The Real Solution to Convention Fees: End Conventions whereas in Upcoming RPV Battles Loudoun Insider complains principally about the fee proposals. With respect to ending conventions, I beg to differ. See REVIVING AN OLD POST=> ON POLITICAL PARTIES: WHY WE NEED CONVENTIONS.

Chris at MASON CONSERVATIVE considers why Bill Bolling and Bob Marshall Come Out Against Convention Fees. Chris gets into the subject of whether the proposed fees are mandatory or not, and he also opposes conventions. Would the proposed fees be mandatory or not? Until the State Central Committee votes….. Here is what Cuccinelli says on his facebook page.

At The Virginia Conservative, the virginiaconservative makes it clear he wants to keep the cost to participate low. See The High Cost to Advance.

At Disrupt the Narrative, Martin M. McMartin posts Cuccinelli Shares Perspective on Proposed Party AmendmentsVA Social Conservative does the same in Cuccinelli Supports Making Conventions Financially Viable.

ricjames at HoodaThunk? comes out against conventions and raising fees in As with anything else, raising the fees to participate in conventions or run for office will result in fewer participatingricjames also comes up with his own ideas for candidates selection.   🙄

A Last Word

No two people agree about everything. Thus, we finally have something Marshall and Cuccinelli disagree about. What is interesting is that with respect to the 2012 Senate race, the debate over fees may end up being irrelevant. Some shenanigans are in the works.

2 thoughts on “POLITICS FOR THE RICH?

  1. P. Henry Saddleburr – I despise primary elections, and I sympathize with your anger. Nonetheless, I understand the preference some have for them. Since they are paid for with “other people’s money,” they are easier.

    Since I was not at this debate, you have the advantage of a better perspective. In any event, I have no trouble agreeing that the Establishment Republicans prefer primaries. Even though George Allen is a relatively decent Conservative, I will also concede that Republican establishment regards him as a team player.

    Nonetheless, I don’t think the choice for a primary election represents some sort of Establishment Republican conspiracy. The problem goes deeper than that. When I used the term shenanigans, I just expressed my frustration. We simply had no good reason to decide on a primary this far out before the election.

    With the advantage of hindsight, I also doubt the request for a fee increase was a mere feint. If the proposal for a convention fee increase was intended to persuade people to go for primary, then it was ingenious. Because taxpayers pay for and the government runs primary elections, the RPV/State Central Committee would undoubtedly find a primary election much easier to finance, set up, and administer. Thus, the resistance to a fee increase just added to their natural inclination (basic human laziness) to support a primary.

    Allen’s support for a primary clinched the matter. Allen remains popular, and he has added to that popularity by getting out and about and supporting Republican congressional candidates.

    So long as the government pays, if the most popular candidate wants a primary, he is going to get a primary. That to me is the real problem.

    Anyway, I welcome your perspective. Thank you for visiting.


  2. You are right to be suspicious about what is going on, but the ‘fees’ issue was a feint, a phony argument to cue up what the Republican establishment wanted all along.

    I sat through the debate on fees for covering the cost of the Convention, which went down in flames, because the REAL agenda was that the establishment doesn’t want a Convention. Why? Because insurgents can rally grassroots activists to attend a convention to nominate a groundswell candidate at a convention, but a primary always favors the better financed candidate with better name recognition.

    They’re trying to kill grassroots-ism and I can only anticipate that George Allen is being propped up as the nominee for Senate. Of course, he will lose in the general election as the full macaca watusi will be the media dance craze, but establishment Republicans are morons that live by a group think mentality.


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