“The rules are here to protect us, they’re good rules,” proclaimed College Republican National Committee (CRNC) chairman Chandler Thornton at Saturday’s convention — an event that saw his preferred successor, Courtney Britt, triumph over Judah Waxelbaum.
Email correspondence between Thornton and Case Western University professor and libertarian legal writer Jonathan Adler obtained by National Review, however, provides further evidence that the rules were applied so as to ensure Britt’s victory, not to enforce a level playing field.
On July 6, Thornton wrote the following:
Dear Professor Adler,By way if [sic] introduction, my name is Chandler Thornton and I am the National Chairman of the College Republican National Committee (CRNC).The CRNC is in the process of verifying chapters in advance of our 2021 Biennial Convention next weekend.With this in mind, your name and contact information were listed as “Chapter Advisor” of the Case Western University College Republicans.If this is correct, would you be so kind as to send the CRNC a letter on your letterhead, verifying the existence of the Case Western University College Republicans as an active student organization?The letter may be as simple as the following:“My name is Professor Jonathan Adler and I serve as Chapter Advisor for the Case Western University College Republicans. This letter is to confirm that the chapter is an active student organization.”The letter may be addressed as it is is listed below and may be submitted via email to firstname.lastname@example.org.College Republican National Committee1750 Pennsylvania Ave NW#27920Washington, DC 20038Thank you in advance for your time and assistance.Best,Chandler
Why is this notable? On July 11, every state College Republican federation backing Waxelbaum was denied an appeal for votes at the convention. Every federation backing Britt was granted their appeal. The basis for the denials was that the pro-Waxelbaum states did not produce letters of the kind Thornton requested from Adler. Ohio, where Case Western is located, voted for Britt on Saturday.
At previous CRNC conventions, states that failed to produce any of the requisite documentation by the first deadline were required to submit letters from two schools in their state attesting to the presence of active chapters. This year, the rule was interpreted to mean that every state appealing for votes after the initial deadline had to provide them, not just those that failed to submit any paperwork whatsoever.
Circumstantial evidence previously reported on by National Review suggests that the rule interpretation change was designed as a weapon to disenfranchise states supporting Waxelbaum. The letters submitted by many pro-Britt states rolled in via email at 4 a.m. Eastern Time on July 11, most with the same — and all with similar — subject lines and body texts. Britt’s supporters, it would seem, did not want Waxelbaum’s to know about the requirement until the very last second.
Now, though, it is clear that Thornton participated actively in this scheme, even going so far as to solicit letters from states he knew would get behind Britt at the convention, all the while keeping Waxelbaum’s states in the dark.
When National Review first reported on the campaign and Thornton’s favoring Britt in the race to succeed him, Thornton bristled. He labeled the assertion that he was “supporting Britt” one of “many inaccuracies” in an article about Thornton’s meddling in an internal dispute in the Arizona federation — from which Waxelbaum hails — in order to benefit Britt. At no point did the article state that Thornton had formally endorsed Britt, as Thornton alleged.
Waxelbaum, who urged federations that felt “disenfranchised or disregarded” to leave the CRNC on Saturday, was incensed, but far from shocked by these developments. He gave the following statement to National Review:
“I am unfortunately not surprised. At every turn I have been disappointed to learn of new lengths this administration has gone to keep good CRs out of the process. Every conspiracy theory about the CRNC has been affirmed and then some. To act like this with such blatant disregard for the impact it will have on the future of our movement is abhorrent.”
Several state federations — including New York and Texas — have already announced that they are considering leaving the CRNC as a result of Thornton and Britt’s machinations.