The State Republican Executive Committee (SREC) first quarterly meeting was held in Austin on March 31, 2012 at the RPT headquarters and preceded by SREC committee meetings which were held on Friday, March 30th.
The Convention committee, chaired by Hal Talton, met and discussed a tentative agenda, sponsorships sales, logos, events, space planning, security, and registration – among other items directly related to planning for the upcoming convention.
The Volunteerism committee, chaired by Leslie Recine, met and discussed ways for the Republican Party to become involved in community affairs. The Volunteerism committee will also be involved in assisting in locating volunteers for the RPT State Convention.
The Rules committee was chaired by Dan Pickens. There were no major controversies involving Rules at this meeting.
The Auxiliaries and Coalitions committee met, chaired by Jane Burch, and a major order of business was considering recommending the High School Republicans of Texas for approval as an official auxiliary.
The Candidate Resource committee, chaired by Jane Cansino, met to discuss fundraising for down-ballot and local candidates.
The Policy and Procedures committee met, chaired by Angie King, and finalized proposed policies for the SREC's consideration pertaining to accounting, FEC reports, expense documentation, etc.
The Grassroots Club committee, chaired by Melinda Fredricks, met to discuss ways to expand the Grassroots Club, including utilizing the efforts of Texas Federation of Republican Women, and efforts at the State Convention to improve membership.
The National Convention committee, chaired by Eric Opiela, met to discuss among other items, hotels, apparel, sponsorships and events at the National Convention in Tampa this August.
On Saturday, the SREC meeting was preceded by a prayer service conducted by RPT Chaplain, Pastor Rex Johnson. As in the past, Pastor Johnson brought with him his music director Randy Davenport to help lead the service.
At the beginning of the meeting, the SREC heard from a number of candidates for elected office. Craig James, Lela Pittenger and Tom Leppert, running for the U.S. Senate, both spoke to the group. Barry Smitherman and Becky Berger, running for different seats on the Texas Railroad Commission, also both spoke regarding their campaigns and qualifications.
The next item of business was an audit report. SREC member Marian Stanko, chairman of the Audit committee, presented the report along with members of the CPA firm Atchley & Associates. The report indicated that the books were in proper order, that appropriate accounting practices were being followed, that the RPT had paid all of its bills to zero as of the end of the year, and that the RPT continued to be in solid financial shape.
Following the audit report, the SREC heard from the State Party officers. Chairman Steve Munisteri reported to the SREC that a projected, significant drop in cash reserves as a result of the ever-challenging fundraising climate, had fortunately not materialized as expected. Previously, Chairman Munisteri had advised the SREC in past meetings to expect cash reserves to drop to the $500,000-$600,000 level by the end of the year. The Chairman reported the good news that as the result of several individuals giving significant contributions to the RPT, that the cash balance at the end of the year after all bills were paid, totaled $697,977. He noted that this was little changed from last year, when cash reserves at the end of 2010 totaled $733,496. The Chairman had previously advised the SREC that because of legal bills over redistricting and 2011 being a non-election year, combined with competing with national candidates for funds, it would be likely that the RPT would not be able to achieve the approximately $700,000 level of the year before.
The Chairman indicated that he was pleasantly surprised that we were able to end 2011 in roughly the same financial condition as we ended 2010, which is to say, a very solid financial position. The Chairman noted that revenues from telemarketing and direct mail for the first quarter were doing better than projected, relative to the house donor files, and slightly worse than expected from prospecting donors. Overall, it was anticipated that direct mail and telemarketing revenues would meet or exceed the 2012 budgeted amount. The Chairman also indicated that the Party had a successful fundraiser in Tyler, TX, grossing approximately $84,000, and a successful Austin fundraiser, grossing approximately $115,000, and that a Dallas fundraiser was planned for April. The Chairman stated that at the end of March, after all bills including payroll were paid, that total usable discretionary cash was estimated to be $644,000. This was despite the fact that the Party had already paid over $100,000 toward the State Convention and had incurred $40,000 in legal bills in March, primarily related to the redistricting lawsuits.
The Chairman told the SREC that there would still be additional legal bills which needed to be planned for, as well as significantly increased costs as a result of having to assist counties turn out Republican activists for precinct and/or county and district conventions. The Chairman reported that considering the upheaval of redistricting, having to adopt a complete new set of rules for delegate selection, and having to ensure that all counties were made aware of the new rules and the new process, that the Party was operating as smoothly as could be expected. The Chairman also reported that in selected counties, the Party was assisting with robo-calls that will total over 100,000 calls, as well as mailing thousands of notices to potential convention attendees. The Chairman finished up his report by saying that the primary focus of the Party over the next quarter would be to ensure that the County & District conventions go forward and that the State Convention is properly planned for.
Vice-Chairwoman Melinda Fredricks gave her report and outlined the progress that the Grassroots Club committee is making, working in conjunction with the Texas Federation of Republican Women to promote membership. National Committeeman Bill Crocker issued what will be his final report as National Committeeman as his term expires at the State Convention. He provided his assessment as to the perception of Texas and the Texas delegation among the RNC, how that could be improved in the future, as well as providing an assessment as to the causes of the redistricting litigation. Crocker also reported that RNC Chairman Reince Priebus had made tremendous progress on improving the financial condition of the RNC, and noted that the overall debt of the RNC had been cut in half, and that the Presidential Trust Fund had been fully funded with millions of dollars. After Crocker's report, Chairman Munisteri noted that Bill Crocker had served the Republican Party of Texas with honor and distinction and thanked him for his service on behalf of the entire RPT. The comments drew a standing ovation from the SREC in appreciation of Committeeman Crocker's service. He will continue on as General Counsel to the Republican National Committee after his committeeman term expires.
National Committeewoman Borah Van Dormolen reported on the status of National Convention planning and noted that hotel assignments had not yet been made. This was due in part to awaiting a determination as to how our nominee would be. Borah also brought a full report of the recent RNC quarterly meeting, along with an analysis of Republican targeted races around the country regarding the U.S. Senate and U.S. House. Borah also announced a series of deadlines and opportunities for national delegates and volunteers to become involved with the Republican National Convention this August in Tampa, Florida.
General Counsel Patrick O'Daniel simply reported that we had been involved in a number of redistricting lawsuits, but otherwise had no major legal controversies. Treasurer Tom Mechler and Assistant Treasurer Tom Washington provided a report on the finances and party reporting. Tom Mechler stated that after approximately a year of not having to amend any reports with the FEC, the Party had to amend one report in order to make a slight correction of one entry. This was a result of an elected official providing us the wrong information as to which account a contribution came from. It was not a result of a mistake on the RPT's end. Treasurer Mechler told the SREC that all other reports were in good order, that the books were in good order, and that the Party was in excellent financial shape. Tom Washington and Tom Mechler then asked Angie King to go over a series of proposals for policies and procedures relative to accounting and expenses which were approved by the SREC unanimously. These were as follows: Bank Reconciliation, FEC Report Filing, Purchase Orders, Disbursements and Petty Cash.
The next order of business was hearing committee reports. There were significant activities relative to the Resolutions committee and the Auxiliaries committee. The Auxiliaries committee recommended the official recognition of the High School Republicans of Texas as an RPT auxiliary. There was debate on this issue as some SREC members felt that high school students were too young to affiliate, as well as concerns over increased liability for the RPT. The proponents noted the importance of involving young people in the party and attracting new voters. The auxiliary was approved by a substantial majority. The new Chairman of the High School Republicans of Texas, Connor Pfeiffer, addressed the SREC and introduced several of the new members. He also reported that they have an initial nine high school chapters and plans to create additional ones.
The Resolutions committee, chaired by Johnny Lovejoy, introduced a resolution in support of Tom DeLay, a resolution on a Texas Presidential Debate, a resolution concerning abortion providers, a resolution on preventing Medicare fraud, and a resolution against the United Nations Agenda 21 program. The Resolutions committee surprised Chairman Munisteri with a resolution honoring his service which then resulted in numerous SREC members inquiring as to whether he would seek a second term. The Chairman addressed the SREC and answered the question by stating that he would seek a second term, under the condition that no one on the SREC would ask him to run for a third term if he was re-elected. The Chairman thanked the SREC for passing the resolution unanimously and expressed his heartfelt appreciation for all the support the SREC has provided over the last two years and for the honor and privilege of representing the Party.
Representative Dan Branch was the primary sponsor for the SREC meeting, and was also the lunchtime speaker. Prior to speaking, he presented a check for $20,000 to the Party. This made him eligible to be a member of the Chairman's Circle as Representative Branch has been responsible for over $25,000 contributed to the Party in the last 12 months. The Chairman then presented Dan Branch his Chairman's Circle award and thanked him for all his work on behalf of the Party. Representative Dan Branch then put on a very interesting and informative slide presentation outlining the accomplishments of Republicans in Texas government. Specifically, that the State of Texas spends less per person than any other state, at $4,075 per person, that it has among the State's lowest tax burdens, and as a result, that Texas has superior economic growth and job environment.
The SREC also heard an extended report from the Conventions Committee as to its planning. Convention committee Chairman Hal Talton, along with committee members Vice Chair Becky Berger, Jane Burch, Angie Flores, David Halvorson, Janet Jackson, Neal Katz, Angie King, Jan Koehne, Bonnie Lugo, Jean McIver, Rena Peden, Montie Watkins, Tom Washington and Rebecca Williamson – came forward and made presentations on all of the individual facets of planning and executing the State Convention. Much of this information is presented via the RPT website at this link.
The SREC then heard auxiliary reports. TFRW State President Carolyn Hodges presented an update on TFRW activity and their upcoming plans to work with the RPT to get ready for this year's elections. TRCCA Chairwoman Linda Rogers outlined the work that her organization was doing to help counties prepare for upcoming conventions. Rogers also made special mention of the work of former Tarrant County GOP Chairwoman Stephanie Klick and honored her for her longtime service and the excellent job that she did as Tarrant County Chair. The RPT joins TRCCA in thanking Stephanie Klick for her years of service to the Tarrant County GOP.
The final order of business was hearing about a dispute in Upshur County. Both sides in the dispute presented their cases and a motion to not consider any action on the dispute was passed by two-thirds of the SREC, so no action was taken.
The next meeting of the SREC will be held on Wednesday, June 6th at the Fort Worth Convention Center, immediately preceding the State Convention on June 7-9.