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“Have you actually read the Rules?”

Obama’s campaign is spreading misinformation about the disposition of the Florida and Michigan delegation. But before we get to what the actual rules are, let’s be clear about one thing: it is in the interest of the Obama campaign to suppress the votes from MI and FL and by extension NY, NJ, CA, AZ, MA, OH and many other states that voted *decisively* for Hillary Clinton. And hey, if you want to elect a guy who got to the White House by ignoring the votes of more than half of the Democratic electorate, fine! But don’t be surprised if he doesn’t pay much attention to you when he gets there.

Anyway, the misperception is that now that there will be no revote in Florida and now that Obama intends to fight the vote in Michigan, there’s nothing Clinton can do but concede to Obama’s greater numbers (you wish). Game, set, match. But, this is not true. The decision to count the delegates is in the hands of the members of the DNC Rules and Bylaws committee. Oh, sure, they want to elect Obama but who cares what they think? Do voters count or not? Anyway, here are the rules from a post by Jon Winkleman at MyDD:

“Have you actually read the rules?”

DNC Delegate Selection Rules: Florida & Michigan

True or False?

1) The DNC Rules state that pledged delegates elected by Florida and Michigan voters must be excluded because those states scheduled primaries before February 5, 2008.

FALSE: The DNC Delegate Selection Rules explicitly give the Rules and Bylaws Committee and the Credentials Committee ultimate jurisdiction over delegate selection. These committees, each in their independent capacities, can seat the delegates from Michigan and Florida at their discretion.

2) The mandatory penalty for a state holding a primary before February 5, 2008 is exclusion of that state’s delegates from the Democratic National Convention.

FALSE: The mandatory penalty is exclusion of one half of the offending state’s pledged and alternate delegates. Unless otherwise provided, the other half of that state’s pledged and alternate delegates will be seated at the convention.

3) Any attempt to seat 100% of the pledged or unpledged delegates of Florida and Michigan at this point is “changing the rules.”

FALSE: The DNC Rules explicitly contemplate that excluded delegates will eventually be seated at the Convention. For states in violation of the timing rules, the DNC Delegate Selection Rules provide remedies to reinstate all of their delegates, both pledged and unpledged.

4) Florida is not entitled to reinstatement of its delegates because the Democrats in the Florida State Legislature did not make efforts to keep the state’s primary in compliance with DNC Rules.

FALSE: Evidence that that a Republican majority in the state legislature set the primary date in violation of the DNC timing rules in spite of efforts by the state’s Democratic legislators to keep the primary in compliance is grounds for appealing a DNC decision to strip a state of its delegates.

Though Florida has a 2:1 Republican legislative majority, the DNC Rules & Bylaws Committee ruled that the Democratic minority did not make sufficient efforts to keep the primary date in compliance with DNC Rules. The Florida State Party disputes this factual finding. The State Party argues that the Democrats in the legislature were robbed of meaningful power to stop the Republican effort to set an early primary date because Republicans drafted the controlling legislation and packed it with other unrelated issues which the Democrats in the legislature felt they could not in good conscience oppose.

5) The DNC Rules & Bylaws Committee has taken action and is unable to change the sanctions imposed on Florida and Michigan.

FALSE: The Rules and Bylaws Committee has the power to lift any and all automatic sanctions along with the power to impose and modify additional sanctions. The Rules and Bylaws committee also has the power to create its own committee to create an alternative process for delegate selection should the state party not cooperate or be unable to resolve the issue on its own. The Rules and Bylaws Committee failed to use the tools it had to independently resolve the matter in good faith before Florida and Michigan voters went to the polls of the ill timed primaries to express their candidate preference.

6) Hillary violated the DNC Rules by keeping her name on the Michigan ballot.

FALSE: Nowhere in the DNC’s Delegate Selection Plans is there any suggestion or command that any candidate remove his or her name from a ballot in a state that is in violation of timing rules. This is why Obama and Edwards were on the Florida ballot, in spite of its primary also being before February 5.

7) Hillary manipulated the process by being the only candidate who kept her name on the Michigan ballot.

FALSE: Kucinich, Dodd and Gravel also kept their names on the Michigan ballot. In fact the decision of some candidates to remove their names from the Michigan ballot was a tactical move designed to curry favor with Democratic Party officials in Iowa who were concerned that the significance of their first-in-the-nation status was being diminished. The risk paid off handsomely for Obama.

8) Because Edwards and Obama were not on the Michigan ballot, that election cannot be considered a legitimate expression of voter preference of a presidential candidate.

FALSE: According to the Delegate Selection Rules & Bylaws, “Delegates shall be allocated in a fashion that fairly reflects the expressed presidential preference or uncommitted status of the primary voters…” The Michigan ballot included an option for “uncommitted” to ensure that voters could express a presidential preference or uncommitted status consistent with this rule. Nothing in the Rules requires a state to allocate delegates to candidates who voluntarily remove their names from the ballot as John Edwards and Barack Obama did.

9) The primaries in Florida and Michigan are invalid because voters were under informed due to the lack of active campaigning.

FALSE: Voters in Florida and Michigan were very well informed. They had ample access to newspapers, television, books, radio, and the Internet. They could have availed themselves of over a year of coverage of the 2008 election. They could watch every campaign commercial on YouTube. They had the same opportunity as the rest of America to watch 17 televised debates.

Moreover, nowhere in the DNC rules does it specify that candidates must campaign directly in a state to make its primary a legitimate expression of voter candidate preference. Voters in Alaska and Hawaii never get visited by the candidates.

10) All the candidates signed a pledge to the DNC not to campaign in the states violating primary timing.

FALSE: The candidates signed no such pledge to the DNC.

11) Hillary violated the rules against campaigning in Florida and Michigan.

FALSE: Jurisdiction over determinations of whether a candidate shall be considered in violation of the relevant rule (Rule 20 C.1.b.) lies with the Rules and Bylaws Committee. Because the Committee has not ruled against either candidate, it is false to assert that either candidate is in violation.

12) Hillary signed a pledge that she violated by remaining on the ballot in Florida and Michigan?

FALSE: The only pledges signed were between the candidates and the state party chairs in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Nevada. More to the point, they were not binding on the DNC, which is the only organization that has authority over seating delegates. Thus, these pledges are not controlling over the seating of Florida and Michigan delegates.

13) Hillary’s activities in Florida and Michigan look suspicious, between fundraising and holding a victory rally in Florida.

FALSE: Hillary acted well within the letter and spirit of the rules. The rules stipulate that candidates can fundraise in states violating the timing rules and that fundraising activity is not considered impermissible campaigning. Further, the prohibition on campaigning in any state ends as soon as the primary in violation concludes. Hillary’s victory party was within the rules because she did not appear at a campaign event in Florida until after the polls closed.

14) Barack Obama would likely win more delegates if there were a new contest.

FALSE: The rules provide that a candidate who campaigns or holds press conferences in a state in violation of timing may not receive any of the pledged or unpledged delegates from that state. Because Barack Obama campaigned in Florida when, on Sunday September 30, 2007, he held an impromptu public news conference in Florida, when he bought television advertising time on stations in markets which included much of Florida, and when he ran a campaign in Michigan to encourage voters to vote “uncommitted,” Barack Obama may not be entitled to receive any delegates from Florida or Michigan.

15) Reinstating any of the delegates from either Florida or Michigan would be a travesty against democracy and fair elections. It would be cheating.

FALSE: There are many good and valid reasons for the DNC to have rules regarding delegate selection timing, but none of these reasons relate to ensuring that primaries accurately reflect voter preference. None of these involve the preservation of democracy.

Neither Clinton nor Obama has the power to reinstate the delegates unless they already have won 50% plus 1 of the total delegates. Therefore neither has the power to cheat. This matter lies in the hands of the DNC’s Rules & Bylaws Committee which is neutral.

Were Obama to gain control of the Credentials Committee at the DNC, he would have the power to exclude the delegates from Michigan and Florida. That would be a biased effort to disenfranchise two large states. That would be a travesty and one the Republicans could easily exploit in November.

16) Hillary has changed her position on Florida and Michigan now that she may not receive 50% + 1 of the total delegates need to win before the pledged delegate primaries conclude.

FALSE: From the beginning of the Florida controversy, Hillary has consistently stated that if she wins, meaning securing 50% + 1 of the total delegates, she will reinstate the Florida and Michigan delegation at the convention if the DNC fails to resolve the problem on their own before such time.

Obama has changed his position now that seating the Florida and Michigan delegates would put Hillary in the lead. In August of last year he said that resolving the delegate issue was not his job (“I’m like a player on the field. I shouldn’t be setting up the rules” ) and in September he suggested to Florida donors that if he were the nominee whether he would seat in the state’s excluded delegates, declaring that he would “Do right by Florida voters.”

Currently the race for pledged delegates is so split that neither candidate will receive the 50% plus 1 delegates they need to seal their nomination before the Convention. Obama now wants to set the rules and insists that the DNC must refuse to seat Florida and Michigan’s delegates, even though DNC Rules clearly provide remedies to include them. His arguments are not based in the rules and are not in the interest of democracy or the Democratic Party, but only in the fact that those delegates reflect a greater nationwide preference for Hillary Clinton. .

17) A new primary or caucus would settle the issue in a fair way that would maintain party unity.

FALSE: A new primary or caucus that complies with timing rules would have been fair if the date had been set before people started voting in Iowa. Once people started voting, each subsequent primary or caucus was affected. The campaigns have campaigned and spent money in reliance on this calendar. The candidates, campaigns, and electorates are not the same today as they were before voting began. Any new contest would be on an unlevel playing field. It is unnecessary, an insult to the voters who already voted, and unacceptable.

2008 Delegate Selection Rules for the Democratic National Convention (hereinafter “DNC Rules”), Rules 19-20, Sections C. 4-9, Section D.
DNC Rules, Rule 20, Section C.1.a.
DNC Rules, Rule 20.C.5-7 provide several remedies including empowering the Rules & Bylaws committee to implement processes to seat the delegates from an offending state
DNC Rules, Rule 20 C.7.
DNC Rules, Rule 20 C.6-7
DNC Rules, Rule 13 A.
DNC Rules, Rule 19 B., Rule 20.
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/con tent/article/2007/08/25/AR2007082500275. html?hpid=topnews
http://www2.tbo.com/content/2007/sep/30/ obama-vows-do-whats-right/?news-breaking

17 Responses

  1. Here’s a good article from Real Clear Politics:

    http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2008/03/time_to_buy_hillary_clinton.html

    “Time to Buy Hillary Clinton
    By John McIntyre

    Three reasons why it may be wise to become bullish on Senator Clinton becoming the next U.S. President.

    1) Senator Obama’s “problem” in regards to his long-time pastor is a real issue. Brian Ross’ report Thursday on Good Morning America, and more importantly the surfacing of the incendiary video(s), make this an explosive subject that will not go quietly away.

    2) The very serious meltdown in the financial markets is likely to focus the country’s attention on the health, stability and future of the American economy. Fairly or unfairly, Senator Clinton will benefit from her association with Bill Clinton’s administration in the prosperous Nineties, and that perceived experience on the economy will stand in stark contrast to Senator Obama’s dearth of experience.

    3) The mostly unnoticed switch of Puerto Rico from a caucus on June 7 to a primary on June 1, gives Hillary Clinton a very real opportunity to surpass Barack Obama in the popular vote count. If Senator Clinton can “win” the popular vote, this will provide undecided superdelegates ample rationale to go with the less risky general election option of Senator Clinton.

    Currently on Intrade Senator Clinton’s odds to become the next president stand at 17.9%, down from a 2008 high of 47.5% on January 22. With Senator Obama unlikely to win another primary until May, it is time to be buying Hillary Clinton.”

    Puerto Rico… the last big state (assuming there is no Michigan revote)?

  2. I’ve thought about buying me some Hillary. WS, do you know anyone who’s actually done that?

    And here’s a link to the Delegate Selection Rules — they’re very readable. For Florida, read the 2nd to the last & last page.

    It’s QUITE enlightening.

  3. I already bought lots o stock in Hillary.

    riverdaughter, you missed your calling. You should be a lawyer (i know cuz i am one) in your next life, great attention to detail arguing the rules and all. Glad you sorted through all of that so I don’t have to. Thanks.

  4. abycat: LOL! My academic advisor told me after my first semester that I should have been a lawyer. I decided to crack my skull on biology and chemistry and, in retrospect, I am GLAD i didn’t take her advice (no offense). I would have sucked at contracts and torty things.
    BTW, I didn’t write the Rules section of this post. it was lifted from Winkelman’s post, in case I wasn’t clear about that.

  5. What I find the most tiresome in all of this debate about the rules is the fact that the rules clearly state that all states who has a primary or caucus before Feb. 5 will lose 50% of their delegates. Why didn’t the democratic party sanction the other 4 offending states? What is so special about those states? I know Obama and the DNC have control of the talking points right now, but their bias against Hillary is transparent and wreaks of corruption.

    I still can’t believe the arrogance of disenfranchising the voters of Florida after what transpired in 2000 and the fact that it is a state that could easily be won by either party. Putting Florida in the loss column almost means an automatic loss in November. Can’t these idiots see that? I know they dismiss this by flippantly saying that none of the Florida voters actually care. I don’t understand that shortsighted attitude. Why take a chance?

    I know I am mad as hell about it and other things such as this Texas 2 step caucus I was forced to endure. The Republicans had a simple primary. I would much rather have not had to stand in the cold and then fight through a mob of angry Obama supporters. Right now, McCain really looks good to me as a well educated white man living in a state that is prospering like mad.

    As for Obama, I just don’t like that guy. He had an opportunity to fight for the delegates of both Michigan and Florida as both are extremely vital in the general election. By showing goodwill towards those states he could have guaranteed that the dem nominee could do well. It would have also showed him to be a man of integrity by willing to take the delegate hit. That would have curried a hell of a lot of favor with regular voters and superdelegates. Enhancing his image and probably cinching the nomination. If he would have done that then I would have been forced to see him as a man of integrity and would have voted for him in the general. Now, he has no shot at getting my vote. I also don’t like that he took his name of the MI ballot, though I see why. He was going to get clobbered and played political roulette. He may have won early but it is going to catch up to him in the end. There is a reason why people who gamble to much end up bankrupt.

  6. Gregory: I think you raise some good points? Why were Michigan and Florida punished so harshly and IA, NH and SC not at all? My theory is that this election is less to do with delegates and more to do with Clinton. The DNC is avtively trying to stop Hillary from becoming the nominee, but why?

  7. Yeh, I don’t get it at all. And it was all done so long ago — it’s not like the penalty was decided AFTER they knew Hillary had won.

    And I don’t get Obama (or his supporters) at all. They’ve all been adamant that Rules are Rules. I’ve never known of a candidate so willing to blow off whole states.

  8. riverdaughter, no offense taken. I wish, like many other lawyers do, that I had listened to someone telling me not to become a lawyer.

    In my next life, I want be a blogger like you, Taylor Marsh and Anglachel. Must reads every day.

    This MI and FL thing is so incredibly stupid. I am so glad that the Dems paved the way for that critically important and undemocratic Iowa caucus. Why do Democrats have to make it so complicated to lose?

  9. I have been posting everywhere and to the DNC to AMEND the rules to allow delegates to be seated.

    This can be done and should be since the dems, especially the voters, didn’t move up the primaries!

    Sheesh!!

  10. What I find the most tiresome in all of this debate about the rules is the fact that the rules clearly state that all states who has a primary or caucus before Feb. 5 will lose 50% of their delegates. Why didn’t the democratic party sanction the other 4 offending states?

    IA, NH, SC and NV were all given exceptions to the Feb 5 deadline; they were explicitly allowed to start earlier, at specified times..

    However, it’s been pointed out by commenters at Avedon Carol’s place that three of those states moved their contests earlier than was allowed even under the exceptions, but have suffered no penalties as a result.

  11. riverdaughter: The DNC is actively trying to stop Hillary from becoming the nominee, but why?

    my feeling is because they can own/control Obama. kinda like our current president, who fancies himself ‘the decider’ but only decides from the couple of choices he’s given. I suspect the same sort of arrangement is what is being planned. Hillary thinks for herself and will not be controlled. while most of us think Bush has been a disaster as president, his presidency has been wildly successful for certain people, and I think the democrats want in on that kind of deal. they can have it with Obama, not with Hillary. just my thoughts…….

    Riverdaughter, I am so glad I found your blog, really. all the places I have hung out at over the last couple of years have become horrible, and I was feeling homeless on the internet, thank you so very much!

  12. On some other blog I read that Obama claimed he was not at his church on July 22nd when someone at Newsmax said he was, because he was in Florida giving a speech to La Raza – that would be when campaigning in Florida was supposedly against the rules.

    Love your blog!

  13. “Why didn’t the democratic party sanction the other 4 offending states? What is so special about those states?”

    Wasn’t it Donna Brazile, Obama’s biggest fan, in charge of teh committee that made teh decision? I’m guessing the answer is the other states weren’t sanctioned because she thought Obama would win there and knew Clinton would win Fl and MI.

  14. Well, I actually posted the article to show a path to the nomination strategy for Hillary and it goes right through Puerto Rico (not really to give investment advice on InTrade). On Talk Left, there is a post about Hillary supporting a vote on Puerto Rican statehood.

    http://www.talkleft.com/story/2008/3/18/0642/02160

  15. Awesome! Awesome! Awesome!

    This point has been my main stance all along!!!:

    “9) The primaries in Florida and Michigan are invalid because voters were under informed due to the lack of active campaigning.

    FALSE: Voters in Florida and Michigan were very well informed. They had ample access to newspapers, television, books, radio, and the Internet. They could have availed themselves of over a year of coverage of the 2008 election. They could watch every campaign commercial on YouTube. They had the same opportunity as the rest of America to watch 17 televised debates.

    Moreover, nowhere in the DNC rules does it specify that candidates must campaign directly in a state to make its primary a legitimate expression of voter candidate preference. Voters in Alaska and Hawaii never get visited by the candidates.”

    I mean, by the time the Florida and Michigan contests were held, we had all been INUNDATED with information about these folks. They’ve got tv’s and the internet in Florida and Michigan!!!

  16. riverdaughter:

    Like abycat, I am a lawyer who wishes she was a blogger.

    Several commenters have asked why IA, NH, SC and Nevada were not punished for moving their primaries up. What follows is my understanding of how the DNC has explained its position.

    Since the rule’s main purpose was to protect the primacy of the NH primary and IA caucus, the DNC wasn’t going to punish NH and IA for moving up their primaries after other states had moved their up.

    As for SC and NEV, the DNC said that it was acceptable to have those primaries early because doing so gave “greater voice” to African-American and Latino voters, and thus gave “balance” to the IA and NH votes.

    Of course, MI and FLA have lots of African American and Latino voters too, and it was never made clear to me why SC and NEV were okay and MI and FLA were not.

  17. […] Over at The Real Spiel there is a general overview of what things are looking like, and what the problems are, and has a pointer to River Daughter, who fact checks a lot of the claims being tossed around in her post, Have you actually read the rules? […]

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