On Friday, June 28, the Rules Committee of the Democratic National Committee passed a resolution barring the Alabama Democratic Party’s Minority Caucus from directly appointing at-large minority members to the State Democratic Executive Committee, the party’s representative body, without a full vote from the committee’s elected members. 

According to the party’s current bylaws, “minority members should be represented on the SDEC in proportion to their presence in the Democratic Electorate of Alabama or in proportion to their presence in the population of Alabama, whichever is greater.”

For several years, in order to meet this requirement, the Minority Caucus, currently led by Vice Chair Dr. Joe Reed, has been allowed to pick and appoint at-large minority members to the SDEC based on whatever number deemed necessary by the party chair.

Under the new resolution, the Minority Caucus can still nominate at-large members, but those members will not be seated without an affirmative vote from the SDEC. 

“This change to the bylaws is necessary to assure the integrity of the party elections,” said Pam Howard. “The election that took place last August is the perfect example:  Dr Reed was able to manipulate the election results by placing hand picked candidates on the SDEC as at large members.” 

Howard is a member of the steering committee for the Alabama Democratic Reform Caucus – a group that, according to its website, works to “unify and restore the Alabama Democratic Party to a position of respect and strength in order to successfully elect Democrats to office.” 

The ruling is part of an ongoing shakeup within the ADP that dates back to August of 2018 when several complaints were filed against the legitimacy of Nancy Worley’s re-election as party chair. 

In February, the DNC’s Credential Committee upheld the challenges after finding “several irregularities” with the voting process. They also took issues with party’s current bylaws, particularly with provisions regarding the appointment process of at-large minority members. 

The committee gave the Alabama Democratic Party 90 days to pass a rewritten set of approved bylaws and hold new elections for chair and vice chair.

According to Richard Rouco, an attorney representing the plaintiffs who filed complaints against Worley’s reelection, the Rules Committee is requiring the recent resolution to be reflected in the ADP’s new bylaws in order to be approved.

“Whenever bylaws come out, however it ends up shaking out, there is one thing the bylaws have to have in it, and that’s that the minority caucus nominates and the SDEC elects,” he said. “They want to make clear that at the end of the day, it’s not the caucus putting members on the SDEC, it’s the SDEC themselves. 

To date, none of the DNC’s directives have been fulfilled by the party.

Matthew Tyson
Matthew Tyson is a native Alabamian and writer/blogger living in Anniston, Alabama.