GOP official rails over effort aimed at nomination rules

WASHINGTON (AP) — In an extraordinary display of discord, the chairman of the Republican Party’s rules committee accused top GOP officials Saturday of “a breach of our trust” by improperly trying to derail a proposed change in bylaws that would make it harder for party leaders to nominate a fresh candidate for president.

Bruce Ash, RNC committeeman from Arizona, wrote the harshly worded email to the other 55 members of the GOP rules committee that he chairs. The confidential email was obtained by The Associated Press.

Ash wrote that the incident shows that top GOP officials “could use their power to attempt to achieve a political result” at the party’s July nominating convention in Cleveland, Ohio.

He said that could mean the convention’s presiding officer could use the existing rules to “unilaterally reopen nominations to allow a candidate to be nominated that is viewed as more acceptable, which is exactly what so many rank-and-file Republicans across America fear.”

Party leaders meet next week in Hollywood, Florida, to make preliminary decisions about the rules the party will use at its presidential nominating convention in July in Cleveland.

The Florida gathering comes as leading GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump has bitterly clashed with party leaders over rules that he claims have been rigged against him, a charge party leaders deny.

In addition, many leading Republicans consider Trump and his closest challenger, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, likely losing candidates and have discussed ways of finding another nominee should both fall short of the 1,237 delegates needed for the nomination.

The letter did not mention that the presiding officer for much of the convention is expected to be House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., who last week said he does not want to be the presidential nominee.

When Republicans meet next week, Oregon RNC committeeman Solomon Yue wants to propose not running the full convention meetings under the rules of the House of Representatives. Instead, he wants to use Roberts Rules of Order. He and others say under the Roberts rules, it would be easier for the delegates to block an effort by the convention’s presiding officer to consider new nominees for president.

Ash wrote that the RNC counsel’s office had “incorrectly” determined that Yue’s proposed amendment had not been submitted in time to be included in the agenda for next week’s meeting. That would deprive it of priority consideration.

In a later email, GOP counsel John Ryder said the proposal would be on the agenda but that changing the rule is “not a good idea.”