[UPDATED with More Delegates Join Revolt:] Is a GOP Goon Squad Intimidating Ron Paul Delegates into Voting Romney at Convention?
See update at end of this post about 40 more national convention delegates seeking to join the 123 who have filed suit and "hundreds more" possibly ready to do the same.
ORIGINAL POST, JUNE 13, 12:39 P.M.: The Republican National Committee (RNC) is using violence, intimidation and ballot stuffing to deter 123 would-be convention delegates from voting for Ron Paul at the Aug. 27 convention in Tampa, Florida. So claims a civil rights lawsuit filed at the Ronald Reagan Courthouse in Santa Ana against the RNC, its chairman Reince Priebus and various state GOP chairmen. Among the complaints is uniformed GOP goon squads are hassling Paul delegates.
Brought by lawyers from Richard Gilbert & Marlowe, which represents the Texas congressman, the suit seeks to "unbound" Paul delegates "to vote their conscience free from any intimidation from any person or entity." The plaintiff delegates and defendant party chairmen come from states in the 9th Circuit federal court, which are Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon and Washington. Downtown Santa Ana's Reagan building is a 9th Circuit courthouse.
The plaintiffs describe the suit in the following video:
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"Plaintiffs come to Federal Court," states the complaint, "to seek the guidance of the court regarding the federal question as to whether plaintiffs are free to vote their conscience on the first and all ballots at the federal election known as the Republican National Convention, or whether plaintiffs are bound to vote for a particular candidate as instructed by defendants' state party bylaws, or state laws, or the preference of political operatives seeking affidavits of loyalty to a particular candidate under penalty of perjury."
The Paul delegates cite federal law that reads: "No person, whether acting under the color of law or otherwise, shall intimidate, threaten, coerce, or attempt to intimidate, threaten, or coerce any other person for the purpose of interfering with the right of such person to vote or to vote as he may choose, or of causing such other person to vote for, or not to vote for, any candidate for the office of president."
Republican Party bylaws also indicate delegates are free to vote for whichever candidate they want. Yet, according to the suit, Paul delegates have been harassed in nearly every state for failing to support Mitt Romney.
"This harassment included the use of violence, intimidating demands that delegates sign affidavits under penalty of perjury with the threat of criminal prosecution for perjury as well as financial penalties and fines if the delegate fails to vote as instructed by defendants rather than vote the delegate's conscience," states the complaint.
The Paul backers even claim RNC goon squads--in the form of thugs dressed in dark security guard clothing--have been employed to intimidate them.
And despite what you may have read, heard or seen from the media, the Paul delegates claim Romney does not yet have the GOP nomination sewn up.
"Governor Romney does not have 1,144 delegates, the minimum number of delegates required to win the nomination, and no candidate can be assured that they are the nominee until the delegates vote because the delegates have a statutory and constitutional right to vote their conscience," reads the complaint.
To get closer to their desired outcome, the GOP brass has "fixed" elections, "stuffed ballots" and "changed ballot results" to favor Romney, "including programming a voting machine in Arizona to count Ron Paul votes as Governor Romney votes," the complaint alleges.
It is further claimed delegates who do not sign loyalty affidavits to Romney "are told they may not serve as delegates, even though they were duly elected," claims the suit, which singles out Priebus for orchestrating the intimidation.
Besides allowing the delegates to vote for the candidate of their choice, the lawsuit seeks recounts of suspect ballots and the reinstatement of Paul delegates who lost their seats at the convention because they refused to sign loyalty affidavits.
The RNC and Paul campaign, which previously advised its delegates to lay low before the convention, are so far maintaining stony silence on the complaint.
UPDATE, JUNE 15, 1:24 P.M.: At least 40 more Republican National Convention delegates are seeking to join the lawsuit filed by 123 others who claim they are being pressured to vote for Mitt Romney, and Ron Paul's lawyer claims hundreds of more delegates may want to do the same.
Richard Gilbert of Gilbert & Marlowe claims he has more than 100 signed affidavits from delegates claiming the GOP is rigging elections and committing voting fraud, and he accused "some campaigns" of acting "like organized crime syndicates."
It's not difficult to figure out whose campaign Gilbert is singling out.
"In Arizona, the voting machines were rigged so that Ron Paul votes were counted as Mitt Romney votes," he tells Courthouse News Service. "It was so intentional that a Romney delegate refused to certify the vote count, and for that he got thrown off the convention."
Party rules prevent changing rules within 30 days of a convention, but Gilbert claims chairmen and organizers often change rules the day before or even during a convention to deny quorums or rig outcomes.
Judge David O. Carter of Santa Ana's U.S. District Court is hearing the case, although no dates have been set. The Clinton appointee is used to dealing with presidential election issues, being the judge who drew the short straw to deal with various funny legal papers filed by Aliso Viejo's Orly Taitz, who claims Barack Obama was not born in the U.S.
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