Democratic Party reform Austin Sen. George McGovern, who was chairman of the Democrats’ party reform commission, states that the commission’s new fair-play, open-participation rules are “binding” on all state parties for 1972. The 1968 convention required that in 1972, all Democrats had to be given “full, meaningful, and timely opportunity” to participate in the selection of delegates in the convention process. Most of the new rules use the imperative verb, “shall,” and the state parties have been told this means that the McGovern commission regards these rules as minimum standards to carry out the 1968 convention’s requirement. What, exactly, does this mean for the Texas Democrats? On Feb. 27, 1970, almost a year ago, McGovern wrote Elmer Baum, the chairman of the Texas Democrats, advising him of the specific laws, rules and practices in Texas that, McGovern told Baum, “are inconsistent with the mandatory requirements of the Commission Guidelines.” The Texas party is by this letter on notice from the McGovern Commission that it breaks the mandatory rules in the following ways: To participate in the Texas conventions, a citizen is required to be a minimum age of 21. This has to be 18. The absence of party rules in Texas breaks the new rule that requires state parties to adopt rules that prescribe the delegate selection process “with sufficient details and clarity.” In 1968 all Texas delegates to Chicago were selected at large. This breaks the new rule that requires that at least 75% of the delegation be elected from units no bigger than congressional districts. In 1968, except for senatorial districts’ nominees, the Texas delegation was chosen by the state convention’s nominating committee. Under the new rule, before slates are prepared, there has to be adequate public notice that this is going to be done, there has to be “widespread participation” in the process, and the “right to challenge” the slate has to be more than perfunctory, with no “undue burden on the challengers.” In Texas there are no rules, either, about credentials challenges or minority reports. McGovern told Baum there have to be such rules. And the unit rule, binding a convention minority to vote with the majority, was widely used in Texas in 1968, but is now prohibited at every convention level in all matters related to the selection of delegates. All this amounts to something, although not as much as it sounds like. In fact, as Joe Califano told national Democratic chairman Lawrence O’Brien in a legal memo on May 18, 1970, “the ultimate power” to decide if a delegation is within the rules “resides with the 1972 convention.” In other words, it is still and again a political question. Despite all the verbiage, this fact takes its place in front of all the others. Califano also said, “a State Party would be well advised to follow the commission’s guidelines since the 1972 convention is likely to adopt some or all of the provisions of the guidelines as its standard. . . .” Baum is not much in evidence because of the stock scandal. There being no party rules, nobody knows how to force Baum to call the State Democratic Executive Committee into a meeting. The Democratic national committeewoman from Texas, Mrs. Carrin Patman, is one of the five members of a national ad hoc committee to help implement the new rules. This group, O’Brien has assured McGovern, has “no Austin Last December, when it first came out that the Army had been spying on civilians, including politicians, the reaction of Texas politicians was interesting. Ralph Yarborough, still a senator then, said the Department of Defense “is spying on anybody who disapproves of the way they are conducting the war in Indochina” and that military spying helped defeat Senate doves Gruening, Clark, Morse, Gore, Tydings and himself. Sen. John Tower, the Republican senator from Texas, stood silent. That was interesting, too, in its way. But most interesting were the remarks of Cong. Bob Eckhardt, Houston, as reported by The Houston Chronicle’s Washington Bureau: “Eckhardt said he had been contacted by a woman whose story indicated that military spying had been going on at least since 1948 . . . and that she had participated. “Eckhardt said the woman, while living in Waco, was asked by an officer at James Connally Air Force Base there to apply for a job as a reporter at a Waco weekly newspaper. She did and was hired, although she had no previous newspaper experience, Eckhardt said. “Eckhardt said the woman understood that she was gathering this information for both the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the military, but the military discouraged her from direct contact with the FBI. power to alter, dilute, or in any way veto the Guidelines.” There is also an O’Hara commission working now to establish procedures for credentials challenges based on state parties’ failure to carry out the new rules. Many of the states have already made substantial changes in their rules. According to McGovern and O’Brien, by July, 1970, 22 states had taken “significant action.” Texas Democratic Party officials have set a date of June 1, 1971, for approval of state party rules, but whether that will be met now with the scandal hanging over the state party is a question. In effect, the stage is set for a formidable challenge to the official delegation from Texas to the national Democratic convention next year if the new “mandatory rules” of the McGovern commission are not articulated and followed with some care by the conservative Democrats in control of the Texas Democratic Party. R.D. “Following this activity for the military, the woman apparently broke off her work until about a year-and-a-half ago in Houston where she was telephoned by a military official and asked to attend a speech on communism. She did and reported back. The telephone number which was her contact with the military was discontinued a month or so later.” Late last month, Walter Birdwell, 28, a Houston postal employee and former military intelligence agent, said he spied for the military in Austin and San Antonio and that Sen. Barbara Jordan and Rep. Curtis Graves, both of Houston and two of the only three blacks in the Texas Legislature, were among the office holders who have been spied on by the U.S. Army. Sen. Jordan said she would demand a congressional investigation. Graves said he was “disturbed but not surprised.” Asked about the reported spying on Miss Jordan and Graves, Senator Tower broke his silence. “I am willing to accept the Army’s explanation,” he said, continuing: “When there is some personality around who might become remotely involved in something which in turn could cause the Army to be called out for help, then the military should have good intelligence on those persons. It’s not whether you have gathered information about people, but how you use it.” February 26, 1971 17 Black solons espied
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