Precinct Chair James Byers on the State of the Montgomery County GOP

My name is James Byers, Precinct 24 Chair, Conduct and Ethics Committee Chairman, Rules Committee Chairman, and Steering Committee Member for the Montgomery County Republican Party (MCRP) of Texas. 

Why I consider my work for the Republican Party to be important:

I’m a US Navy Annapolis grad and Vietnam War veteran, as was my father WWII (later becoming a Republican Judge) and two brothers. My five sons have all served or are serving, two Navy and three Army with two engaging in heavy combat during multiple tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. One son was injured by IED and should be KIA. He crawled out of his destroyed vehicle and, though injured, engaged the enemy. All the while, a mounted 50 cal. sat silently beside my son’s destroyed vehicle, because Pres. Obama’s rules of engagement prohibited their using the 50 cal. against enemy combatants. It could only be used against equipment. That is why I was compelled to get involved in our elections, first as a founding member of the Board of Directors for the Montgomery County Tea Party PAC. I then ran for office to be an MCRP Precinct Chair. I wanted to help elect good Republicans to office and, now, to also ensure election integrity.

As Team Lead of the Mediation Team for the Independence Alliance (an MCRP caucus), I ask that you consider our testimony if you are asked to vote on a resolution or motion at the SREC meeting on September 24, 2022, regarding an RPT Rule 8(k) resolution against our County Chairman. And/or there will be some other parliamentary move intended to draw the SREC into the ongoing dispute within our MCRP County Executive Committee (CEC).

Our local dispute is between two (2) local caucuses – the Independence Alliance (now 49 Precinct Chairs out of 101) whom I represent and the “Freedom Caucus” (now 46 Precinct Chairs out of 101). The Freedom Caucus wants your aid to seize the Office of County Chairman, expecting to use their replacement for County Chairman to give their caucus complete control of the Party in our County.

SHORT BACKGROUND

In April 2022, a group of MCRP Precinct Chairs formed the “Freedom Caucus” to promote their preferred Precinct Chair candidates in the May 24, 2022, run-off Primary. 

Prior to the 2022 RPT State Convention, I formed the “Independence Alliance” on June 2, 2022, to promote Bylaws that would help bring civility and probity to our CEC meetings, which had become unruly with a total lack of decorum. 

On July 19, 2022, our biennial Organizational Meeting ended prematurely, after a long debate over a substitute agenda, when Freedom Caucus member Precinct 88 Chair Fred Sunderman called for the meeting to adjourn. Well over a majority approved the adjournment, which ended our meeting before we could adopt new Bylaws for 2022-2024. RPT Rule 8(e) provides:

Failure to adopt Bylaws or Rules for the current biennium by a majority of those present and voting shall enact the previous biennium’s Bylaws or Rules.

In accordance with this rule, our previous MCRP Bylaws for 2020-2022 were automatically reenacted for 2022-2024 (hereafter referred to as Reenacted Bylaws) when the organizational meeting ended as it did, as requested by the Freedom Caucus (Freedom Caucus) and approved by its adjournment on July 19, 2022. 

Even though they had no one to blame but themselves, the Freedom Caucus decided they would not accept the July 19th adjournment they made. Instead, they created the fiction that the July 19th meeting was adjourned to be continued at a specific date, time, and place. They then petitioned for an Emergency Meeting for July 23rd, which the Freedom Caucus claimed was still an Organizational Meeting. I also scheduled an emergency meeting for the same date, time, and place, but operating under the Reenacted Bylaws. 

From the start of the meeting, the Freedom Caucus leadership declared their agenda preempted our agenda since a Freedom Caucus member had reserved the meeting facility. They then disinvited the County Chairman (who insisted there first be a discussion and vote), they disinvited my caucus (Independence Alliance), and they ordered the CEC members attending online be disconnected (allowed online by the County Chairman’s invoking RPT Rule 8(j)). Here is a: one-minute clip of the July 23, 2022, meeting

Once the Freedom Caucus leadership took over the meeting, with no regard for the Presiding Officer and Robert’s Rules, the Freedom Caucus adopted their Freedom Caucus Bylaws, elected their Officers from their members, and elected their Steering Committee from their members with votes of 37-0 (out of 98 Precinct Chairs at that time). Go here for the Freedom Caucus Minutes for July 23, 2022. All of the Freedom Caucus’ behavior and votes were in violation of our Reenacted Bylaws and Robert’s Rules of Order. 

BACK TO THE PRESENT DAY

From that day forward, none of their “CEC” meetings operated under the Reenacted Bylaws, therefore none of the Freedom Caucus meetings were valid CEC meetings, but were at best, caucus meetings, using their Freedom Caucus Bylaws. During their caucus meetings, the Freedom Caucus leadership removed the County Chairman from our bank account and seized control of our CEC bank account that held $53,000. They appointed their new Freedom Caucus members as Precinct Chairs and claimed to be in control of the MCRP.

The Matter of Placing Gwen Withrow as Precinct 72 Chair, a Seat Already Occupied by Ann Kate’s May 24th Election to Precinct 72

The Freedom Caucus declared Precinct 72 was vacant despite the protestations of the Chair just elected for that Precinct, Ann Kate. On June 7th, Ann Kate sent an email to our County Chairman Bryan Christ announcing her resignation. Our County Chairman accepted her resignation as effective only for the 2022-22 biennium, and explained because she was elected to be the Precinct 72 Chair for 2022-24, the Texas Election Code required him to file her election to the Secretary of State. The County Chair also explained she would have to wait until after the Organizational meeting passed Bylaws that would codify the process for Precinct Chair resignations (see attached email pdf). When the 2022-24 biennium began, Ann Kate decided not to resign but that she would serve for 2022-24. As you can see in the attached email, Allison Winter was copied on this email.

Allison Winter has withheld this critical information from you, that the County Chairman had to abide by the Texas Election Code regarding his duty to report the results of the Mat 24, 2022, election, which included the reelection of Ann Kate for Precinct 72. And that, which is also required, an elected Precinct Chair to resign has to wait until Bylaws are adopted providing how resignation is reported by that Precinct Chair. When that time came, Precinct 72 Chair Ann Kate chose not to resign.

Despite knowing the County Chair was complying with the Texas Election Code and the Reenacted Bylaws by reporting to the Secretary of State that Ann Kate was reelected for Precinct 72, after which Ann Kate chose not to resign, Allison Winter asks you to remove County Chairman Bryan Christ for not allowing Gwen Withrow to take Ann Kate’s already occupied seat.

In short, because County Chairman Bryan Christ complied with the Texas Election Code and refused to violate the Election Code and our Reenacted Bylaws, Allison Winter wants him removed from office.

The Matter of CEC Meetings Complying with the Reenacted Bylaws:

Following our July 19, 2022, Organizational Meeting, with timely notice to all Precinct Chairs, we held CEC meetings, all operating in compliance with the Reenacted Bylaws and Robert’s Rules, for which reason were presided over by County Chairman Bryan Christ. We elected our Steering Committee, and Standing Committee Chairs, and created needed Adhoc Committees and Committee Chairs. Our Vacancy Committee has vetted those candidates who completed the online application form. After review, our Vacancy Committee presented approved candidates to the CEC, and were elected.

All of the Freedom Caucus Precinct Chair candidates were invited to apply, interview, be presented, and be given a vote. All have refused.

That is why the Freedom Caucus Precinct Chair candidates have not been reported to the Secretary of State by our County Chairman Bryan Christ. All of the Freedom Caucus Precinct Chair candidates refused and still refuse to work with the Vacancy Committee operating under the Reenacted Bylaws. Reportedly, they have been instructed by the Freedom Caucus leadership to ignore the County Chairman and to not attend any CEC meeting or any Vacancy Committee meeting that follows the Reenacted Bylaws.

Once again, Precinct Chair Allison Winter asks the SREC to remove County Chairman Bryan Christ for his compliance with the Texas Election Code and the Reenacted Bylaws. 

The Matter of the RPT SREC Officials Committee Approval to Mediate the Disputes between the Freedom Caucus and the Independence Alliance of the MCRP:

On August 3rd, at the urging of State Representative Steve Toth, I proposed that the Independence Alliance meet with the Freedom Caucus for informal dialogue between 4 or 5 people from each side with no preconditions. We could discuss how to move forward. The next morning, I spoke with SD4 Representative Dale Inman. That night, I received a reply from the Freedom Caucus leaders. They set preconditions before agreeing to meet: either give the County Chairman seat to the Freedom Caucus (Freedom Caucus) or give the Freedom Caucus control of the CEC. So, no informal dialogue occurred. 

On August 30, 2022, after the Freedom Caucus leadership filed an RPT Rule 8(m) request for Mediation, and the Independence Alliance filed a reply agreeing to Mediation, the Officials Committee voted to offer Mediation, and we received an invitation to attend Mediation on September 16, 2022, with three (3) representatives from each caucus. We, the Independence Alliance accepted, and I am the Team Lead for our Mediation Team. The Mediation was later rescheduled for September 30, 2022, which we accepted, as well.

Most recently, the Freedom Caucus met on September 6, 2022, during which they dropped their Freedom Caucus Bylaws and agreed to recognize the Reenacted Bylaws. In that same meeting, with no such provision in the Reenacted Bylaws they just acknowledged, the Freedom Caucus re-voted for their Freedom Caucus members to be Officers, again voted in their own Steering Committee, Committee Chairs, and so on.

Now the Freedom Caucus insists their Officers, their Steering Committee, their Committee Chairs, and their Precinct Chair candidates automatically replace those that had already been elected long before, using the Reenacted Bylaws. Nothing in the Reenacted Bylaws allows for replacing sitting Steering Committee members or Committee Chairs in such a manner. See MCRP Bylaws for 2020-2022 now Reenacted for 2022-2024 per RPT Rule 8(e)

With Mediation scheduled for September 30, 2022, a Mediation that was approved by the Officials Committee, we hope the SREC Members will allow that process to have a chance of succeeding. If you choose to intervene now, what would be the point of Mediation?

County Chairman’s Full Compliance with Reporting New Precinct Chairs:

And please clearly understand: the County Chairman Bryan Christ has complied with and followed the Reenacted Bylaws and the Texas Election Code. He has fulfilled his duties as County Chairman, including reporting ALL new Precinct Chairs who complied with the process outlined in the Reenacted Bylaws. See

Article VII, Section 2. Vacancy Committee:

The purpose of the committee is to review and recommend individuals to fill vacancies. … The Vacancy Committee shall report vacancy recommendations to the Executive Committee for a vote. Each vacancy is voted separately. 

And again, the Freedom Caucus Precinct Chair candidates were all invited but have steadfastly refused to work with the Vacancy Committee – the only Vacancy Committee and Committee Chair that existed in compliance with the Reenacted Bylaws previous to the Freedom Caucus’s very late acceptance of those same Reenacted Bylaws. 

If you have any questions or need further information, please let me know.

Precinct 24 Chair James Byers

Conduct and Ethics Committee Chairman

Rules Committee Chairman

Steering Committee Member

Montgomery County Republican Party of Texas

Published by Reagan Reed

Reagan is a journalist and educator from East Texas. He has been involved in numerous campaigns, worked at the Texas Legislature, and covered Texas politics for years as a journalist.

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