MONDAY NIGHT, Dec. 15:
CONCORD — The New Hampshire Republican Party’s executive committee voted Monday night to censure House Speaker Shawn Jasper, charging that when he opposed House GOP caucus nominee Bill O’Brien and won the post with mostly Democratic members’ support, he was “placing his interests above the interest of the Republican Party and the will of the Republican caucus.”
The vote was 17-9 at the closed-door session, according to GOP sources, and it came in an open vote in which members raised their hands to vote for or against it. A full breakdown of members’ voting was not immediately available, but sources said Republican National Committeeman Steve Duprey and Republican National Committeewoman Juliana Bergeron voted against the resolution, along with seven others, including Concord City GOP chair Kerry Marsh, and Belknap County GOP Chair Alan Glassman. State party chair Jennifer Horn presided and did not vote, sources said.
The committee decided against a less harsh resolution that would have expressed “unqualified disapproval,” and also discussed, but decided against, doing nothing.
Jasper did not immediately respond to the New Hampshire Journal’s requests for comment while O’Brien told the New Hampshire Journal in a statement, “All Republicans who care about the future of our state party understand why the NHGOP Executive Committee has so emphatically joined with a strong majority of Republican voters and activists in repudiating the disrespect of the House Republican majority shown by the member from Hudson (Jasper). We will be continue to organize the Republican Majority in the New Hampshire House to prepare and support a Republican agenda for this term.”
The vote came before the committee began its Christmas party.
The resolution was drawn up by several executive committee members but was primarily written by Merrimack County Republican Chairman and attorney Bryan Gould, a staunch conservative who is now a candidate for NHGOP vice chair.
The censure resolution is an expression of extreme disapproval.
Under a party by-law, Jasper cannot serve on the party executive committee because he was not the choice of the majority of Republican House members. O’Brien, who won the Nov. 18 caucus over Gene Chandler by a vote of 116-112, as the party’s nominee for Speaker, has the seat on the executive committee.
O’Brien was seated at the caucus tonight without objection because, following the initial 116-112 vote on Nov. 18, Chandler moved to make the vote unanimous and the entire caucus agreed. That made O’Brien the unanimous choice of the caucus.
At tonight’s meeting, O’Brien spoke in favor of the censure resolution and voted for it, sources said.
Tomorrow, O’Brien’s supporters in the caucus will hold meet privately at 11:30 in the Legislative Office Building. Jasper is holding a separate caucus on Wednesday morning.
Horn, as party chair, was invited to attend both and has accepted both invitations, sources said.
(Here is the full text of the censure resolution that passed tonight followed by our earlier report. Or it can be viewed here.)
The executive committee of the New Hampshire Republican State Committee (NHRSC), having all of the powers, authority, and responsibility of the NHRSC between plenary meetings of the NHRSC, hereby finds and resolves:
WHEREAS the New Hampshire Republican Party encourages primary contests because they produce better candidates in the general election against Democratic opponents; and
WHEREAS primary contests are designed to allow Republican candidates with differing views to try to persuade voters to support the principles they advocate; and
WHEREAS it has long been the tradition of the New Hampshire Republican Party to support the party’s nominees for office once the primaries are concluded; and
WHEREAS it is destructive of the objectives of the New Hampshire Republican Party for Republicans to oppose or withhold support from the party’s nominees; and
WHEREAS it is a fundamental conviction of the New Hampshire Republican Party that the policies and principles of the Democratic Party are detrimental to the wellbeing of our state and our nation; and
WHEREAS it is essential to the success of the New Hampshire Republican Party that its leadership, elected officials, and state party members lead by example and accept the will of Republican voters in primary contests; and
WHEREAS it is particularly subversive of Republican electoral success for the party’s elected officials to oppose or undermine the party’s nominees because it causes disunity and intraparty strife and betrays the trust placed in those officials by Republican voters and activists; and
WHEREAS personal ambition, personal antipathy toward the party’s nominee, and differences of opinion on policy and the means of implementing it cannot justify public opposition by Republicans officeholders to the party’s nominees; and
WHEREAS it is a breach of trust for a Republican officeholder to combine with members of the Democratic Party to oppose the election of a Republican nominee; and
WHEREAS the Republican Caucus of the New Hampshire House of Representatives voted on November 18, 2014, to nominate Rep. William O’Brien as the Republican candidate for Speaker of the House; and
WHEREAS December 3, 2014, was Organization Day in the New Hampshire General Court, and among the agenda items in the House of Representatives on Organization Day was the election of the Speaker of the House; and
WHEREAS in the days leading up to Organization Day, Rep. Shawn Jasper and a minority of other Republican representatives-elect made it known that they would oppose Rep. O’Brien’s election as Speaker and coordinated with the Democratic caucus in the House to thwart the will of the Republican caucus; and
WHEREAS as a direct consequence of the actions of Rep. Jasper and his Republican supporters, Rep. O’Brien was defeated in the Speaker’s race and Rep. Jasper was elected Speaker by a coalition of Democrats and a maximum of 47 Republicans; and
WHEREAS the Republican Party holds a 79-vote majority in the New Hampshire House of Representatives;
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT
RESOLVED that Rep. Jasper is not the Republican Leader in the New Hampshire House of Representatives within the meaning of the NHRSC Bylaws because he was not the nominee of the majority of the Republican caucus; and
RESOLVED that Rep. Jasper is censured by the NHRSC for each and all of the following:
(1) opposing the Republican caucus’s nominee for Speaker;
(2) placing his interests above the interests of the Republican Party and the will of the Republican caucus;
(3) showing disrespect toward the Republican voters, contributors, and activists whose commitment to Republican candidates made possible the election of Rep. Jasper and his Republican supporters in the House;
(4) combining with the Democratic caucus to create a governing majority in which Republicans make up less than twenty percent of the total despite having a sixty percent majority in the House; and
(5) having risked the long-term party unity and discipline that is essential to the mission, principles, objectives, traditions, and future success of the Republican Party.
(Our earlier exclusive report follows.)
MONDAY AFTERNOON, Dec. 15:
CONCORD – A proposed resolution to be introduced tonight at a meeting of the New Hampshire Republican Party Executive Committee would “censure” House Speaker Shawn Jasper for opposing the House Republican caucus’s nominee for speaker.
The committee is scheduled to meet tonight to take up this and at least one other resolution addressing concerns voiced by NHGOP activists about Jasper’s successful move two weeks ago to oppose caucus winner Bill O’Brien and win the speaker’s post with an estimated 80 percent of his vote coming from Democratic House members.
The censure resolution is expected to be presented, along with a less harsh version, which would not censure Jasper but instead express “unqualified disapproval.”
The resolutions censuring and expressing disapproval of Jasper will be discussed at a closed door executive committee meeting that – ironically — will precede its annual Christmas party.
A NHGOP bylaw forbids Jasper from sitting on the party executive committee because he was not the choice of the GOP caucus.
Bryan Gould, the Merrimack County GOP chairman and a candidate for NHGOP vice chair, has been working with others on a resolution, as the New Hampshire Journal reported on Saturday.
The resolution by Gould and the others was obtained independently from Republican sources. Also, the New Hampshire Journal has learned there are some on the executive committee who feel censure is too strong and a few others want no resolution at all – at least as of this afternoon.
The two-page censure resolution says it has “long been the tradition of the New Hampshire Republican Party to support the party’s nominees for office once the primaries are concluded,” and, “it is destructive of the objectives of the New Hampshire Republican Party for Republicans to oppose or withhold support from the party’s nominees.”
The draft says it is “a breach of trust for a Republican officeholder to combine with members of the Democratic Party to oppose the election of a Republican nominee.”
The resolution says it is “resolved that Rep. Jasper is not the Republican Leader in the New Hampshire of Representatives within the meaning of the NHRSC Bylaws because he was not the nominee of the majority of the Republican caucus; and
“Resolved that Rep. Jasper is censured by the NHRSC” for opposing O’Brien, the party nominee for Speaker, “placing his interests above the interest of the Republican Party and the will of the Republican Party…showing disrespect toward the Republican voters, contributors and activists who commitment to Republican candidates made possible the election of made possible the election of Rep. Jasper and his Republican supporters in the House…combining with the Democratic caucus to create a governing majority in which Republicans make up less than twenty percent of the total despite having a sixty percent majority in the House; and having risked the long-term party unity and discipline that is essential to the mission, principles, objectives, traditions and future success of the Republican Party.”
While a censure has no legal ramifications, it is an expression of extreme disapproval.
Also Monday, GOP House members who support O‘Brien and do not recognize Jasper as a legitimate GOP leader said they will hold a caucus on tomorrow (Tuesday) at 11:30 a.m. at the Legislative Office Building, a day ahead of Jasper’s own GOP caucus scheduled for Wednesday at 10 a.m. in Representatives Hall.
The O’Brien forces had planned to hold a caucus last Monday, but it was postponed until last Tuesday due to scheduling conflict, they said. Then, Tuesday’s caucus was postponed due to the inclement weather and icy conditions that hit much of the state that day.
Rep. Al Baldasaro, R-Londonderry, said many O’Brien supporters met during the weekend and decided to hold a caucus tomorrow. Prior to the caucus, the conservative House Republican Alliance will meet at 1030 a.m.
Baldasaro also said that O’Brien told the group he has now reconsidered and will in fact serve as the caucus’ Republican Leader going forward, and that as a result, initial plans to elect someone else as Republican Leader are no longer necessary.
As for the caucus called by Jasper on Wednesday, Baldasaro said that he, for one, sees no need to attend because he does not recognize Jasper as a GOP leader. He said each Republican lawmaker will made his or her decision on whether to attend Jasper’s caucus.
On Thursday, the House Rules Committee will meet, and as the New Hampshire Journal reported on Saturday, proposed amendments to House rules are expected to be offered by O’Brien supporters. One is expected to require the Speaker to appoint the House Republican Leader, as elected initially by the caucus – O’Brien – as the House Majority Leader. Another could require open votes, rather than secret ballots, for Speaker’s elections.
If the rules committee, which is headed by Jasper and his Deputy Speaker, former O’Brien opponent Gene Chandler, votes against allowing the rule change, the amendments could be brought up on the House floor on the first day of the 2015 session, Jan. 7.