The average voter has a vague notion that there are two prominent national and state-wide political parties. However, many don’t know there also exists local political parties, called a Party Parish Executive Committee (PEC). Although we can argue about the relevance of these hyper-local, miniature political bodies, you should know that they exist. You should also know that many prominent elected officials got their start on such boards. Louisiana’s Attorney General, for example, reportedly once served on a Party’s Parish Executive Committee. The same is true of many legislators, senators, and other elected officials. These boards often provide invaluable insight into the character and courage of candidates from before they had decided to run for a higher office. That, dear reader, is exactly why this matter should capture your attention.
Buz LeBlanc is currently on the ballot to be the Chief law enforcement officer for the City of Breaux Bridge. He also happens to be on the St. Martin Republican PEC. In recent weeks, his performance on that committee has been marred with repeated and blatant violations of numerous organizational rules. He’s used hearsay, lies, and innuendo as justification to violate the rules. In coordination with other members, he’s used the meager power of his position to pursue a personal agenda at the expense of the organization’s reputation and integrity. To accomplish this, he’s even stripped and violated the rights of other members in the organization that he had sworn to protect.
Should someone who would so arbitrarily and capriciously ignore the rules or enforce non-existent rules when it suits him be entrusted with the job of Chief of Police? Certainly not! The following is one in a series of articles I’m bringing before the public. Pay particular attention to the 5:4 votes, in which Chief of Police candidate Buz LeBlanc himself broke the tie.
What does a PEC do?
Each parish is supposed to have an organized Parish Executive Committee for each political party that exists in the state. Because of the way Louisiana Laws are written, however, these small boards are completely disconnected from their respective State Central Committees. The state committee will focus on state-wide candidates while the parish committees focus on local candidates. The two separate organizations will both usually end up working with regional candidates.
The job of the local and state-wide committees is simply to identify candidates who espouse the respective party’s platform and encourage their party members to vote for those candidates. That process is called “endorsement.” These committees will do other things that support their candidates. The most common efforts include voter registration drives, canvassing neighborhoods, fundraising, etc. However, everything revolves around supporting an endorsed set of candidates.
You had one job
That brings us to the St. Martin Parish Republican Executive Committee meeting of last Thursday, October 6th. It was at that meeting that the chairman, Buz LeBlanc, declared that he was going to “strictly follow the rules.” As such, in his estimation, no Republican candidates could possibly be endorsed without “violating the bylaws.” Say what? The RPEC’s only job is to help their local community identify and support Republican candidates they believe should be taken seriously. That process requires “endorsing” candidates. When asked about the endorsement previously issued to US Senator John Kennedy, his only response was: the Kennedy endorsement was erroneous.
Of course it’s asinine to say, out loud, that the primary job of the RPEC is “out of order.” When queried further, Buz LeBlanc explained that no endorsements could possibly take place until the endorsement procedure committee has met. Buz LeBlanc is the only member of that committee. Since the chairman had not yet met with himself, his pretzel-twisting logic went, any attempt to endorse Republican candidates violates the bylaws.
From the St. Martin Republican Parish Executive Committee bylaws, Article V Section A:
Endorsement Procedure Committee
This committee will be responsible for recommending the endorsement or non-endorsement, or a censure of Republican candidates for office. The committee will be chaired by the Chairman of the PEC.
Buz LeBlanc said my objection as a sitting member of the committee was “out of order.” I appealed his ruling under Robert’s Rules of Order’s §24. In a shocking display of tribalism, the ruling of the chair was sustained by a single vote, 5:4! Members who agreed with Buz LeBlanc’s ruling were as follows: Kelby Daigle, Chad Hardy, Rose Knott, Buz LeBlanc, and Lorna Mills. Even though Buz LeBlanc frequently votes in violation of the chairman’s duty of impartiality (RONR §4:56), his vote is allowed if it would change the outcome. However, to get to a place where his vote would be necessary, he had to arbitrarily deny another member their right to vote. More on that in a bit.
Really? Buz LeBlanc sends the endorsements to committee?
Without any motion or second, Chairman Buz LeBlanc declared that he was unilaterally sending all endorsements to the endorsements committee (of which he is the only member). He also directed the committee to not report until January of next year! This action being clearly out of order, a violation of our core mission, and a violation of the the chairman’s sworn duty of impartiality (RONR §3:9, §4:56, §43:29, §47:12), I strongly objected. The Chairman’s ruling that my objection was “out of order” was again sustained by the same manufactured 5:4 majority, with the chair once more having broken the tie.
Knowing that it would likely fail the supermajority (2/3) required to do so, I then made a motion to discharge the committee (RONR §36) and bring the matter of endorsements before the entire body. At that point Buz LeBlanc declared “you’re just making things up” because he had never heard of discharging a committee. Thankfully, Robert’s Rules of Order was close at hand:
RONR §36:5, “Action to discharge a committee from further consideration of a question or subject is generally advisable only when the committee has failed to report with appropriate promptness or when, for some urgent reason, the assembly desires to proceed on the matter without further aid from the committee”
The one-member “committee” had known about this election since before July and had still not reported. We know this because that’s when Buz LeBlanc himself qualified to run for Chief of Police! The committee has not reported “with appropriate promptness.” There is now an impending election, in which the public would benefit from our expertise on the candidates. That qualifies as an “urgent reason” that we fulfill our duty to the public. The same 5:4 manufactured majority (with tie-breaker Buz) decided all of the endorsements for November and December would be addressed by the one-member committee… next year.
It felt like he was expecting a Breaux Bridge Chief of Police endorsement attempt for his opponent, Rodney Chitwood.
Buz LeBlanc violates his oath as chairman
As mentioned previously, Chairman Buz LeBlanc indicated that he would be strictly following the bylaws. However, the votes weren’t there to accomplish his personal agenda of not endorsing candidates. Prior to the meeting he did manage to call and convince enough members to get within a single vote. Sustaining all of his planned bylaws and rules violations would still require one more vote. What’s a chairman to do in that situation? Cheat.
His scheme to get that vote unfolded when the meeting was just getting underway. Rose Knott (seconded by Lorna Mills) made an “improper motion” (RONR §39.5) that sitting member, Grant Gil, should be immediately disqualified. She said she spoke with the Registrar of Voters and Grant Gil was not registered to vote in St. Martin Parish. “He lives in Broussard,” Rose Knott exclaimed. Chairman Buz LeBlanc immediately pounced on it and agreed. As the proxy holder for Mr. Gil, I objected because 1. Rose Knott provided nothing in writing. The chairman’s ruling was based entirely on hearsay; 2. Broussard is in St. Martin Parish; 3. The GeauxVote app confirmed that Grant Gil is indeed a registered voter in St. Martin Parish; and 4. Our bylaws require 10 days notice and a hearing before any member can be removed (RONR §39.5) .
“Motions that conflict with the corporate charter, constitution, or bylaws of a society, or with procedural rules prescribed by national, state, or local laws, are not in order, and if any motion of this kind is adopted, it is null and void.”
From the St. Martin Republican Parish Executive Committee bylaws, Article III Section Dii:
When a disqualification occurs, PEC shall hold a hearing, after ten (10) days written notice to the member, and removal shall be by two-thirds (2/3) vote of a quorum of the members present…
Further, RONR §25:7 makes clear that the bylaws can never be suspended – even by a unanimous vote. RONR §25:11 goes on to say that a member may never be denied the right to vote. Vis:
Rules protecting a basic right of the individual member cannot be suspended. Thus, while generally applicable limits on debate and the making of motions may be imposed by motions such as the Previous Question, the rules may not be suspended so as to deny any particular member the right to attend meetings, make motions or nominations, speak in debate, give previous notice, or vote. These basic rights may be curtailed only through disciplinary proceedings.
Buz LeBlanc accepted lies that furthered his selfish interest
In spite of several clear violations of decorum, the organization’s own bylaws, and Robert’s Rules of Order, Buz LeBlanc used an unverified supposition and hearsay as “proof.” He ruled that Grant Gil was disqualified from office, and therefore would not be allowed to vote. From the rapidity of this process, it’s clear that this plan had been hatched ahead of time. That adds to his sins: a clear violation of the spirit of Louisiana’s Open Meetings law.
With one phone call, it became clear that Rose Knott had deceived the Registrar of Voters and the PEC. In a shocking revelation, Registrar Ms. Pat Guidry told me that she was not provided with the correct spelling of Mr. Gil’s name. That’s why she could not find him when Rose Knott called weeks prior to our meeting. Empowered with the correct spelling, the Registrar quickly confirmed that Grant Gil is indeed a valid, registered voter in St. Martin Parish. She said that his mailing address is outside the city limits, but listed as “Broussard.” She also confirmed that he is a registered voter in St. Martin Parish.
These facts, dear reader, now lead us to sinister questions. All of this had been known for weeks (based on the Registrar’s own account of when Rose Knott called). So, why would Rose Knott refuse to contact Mr. Gil, or any other member of the committee, and clear it up before the meeting? Why would she hold the information and wait in ambush until after the meeting had started? More importantly, why would Buz LeBlanc rapidly accept this sophistry? Why would Buz LeBlanc ignore the bylaws provision for ten-days notice and a hearing? Why would he ignore his sworn duty to protect the rights of fellow members, as laid out in Robert’s Rules of Order (RONR §25:11 & §47:7(7))?
Does this petty politics stuff even matter?
As mentioned in the opening, “These boards often provide invaluable insight into the character and courage of candidates from before they had decided to run for a higher office.” In this case, the future is nigh. Chairman Buz LeBlanc is currently running to be Breaux Bridge’s next Chief of Police. The public has a right to know that Buz LeBlanc has shown wanton disregard for his sworn duty to protect other members’ rights, to uphold the governing documents of the organization, and to maintain decorum by adhering to the rules of order.
This article makes clear that the proceedings would have had a completely different outcome if Buz LeBlanc had “strictly followed the rules” as is his sworn duty as chairman. Instead, Buz LeBlanc used false pretense to eject a fellow member; simply because he suspected how that member would vote. Similar to the “fruit of a poisonous tree” concept, Buz LeBlanc’s erroneous actions manipulated every other vote taken during that meeting. These votes would have failed 4:5 without his interference. (The numbers being accounted for by the member who Buz LeBlanc illegally disqualified. The resulting vote would have made his vote insufficient to change the outcome, and therefore not counted RONR §4:56.)
The final question will be answered by Breaux Bridge voters on November 8th. Does Buz LeBlanc posses the character and courage necessary to impartially maintain law and order? In light of his own selfish actions, willful violations of his oath of office, and wanton disregard for rules he doesn’t like, should Buz LeBlanc be trusted to become Breaux Bridge’s chief law enforcement officer?
More to come…