Arizona Delegate Tries to Vote Her Conscience, Gets the Boot
Lori Hack signed a pledge to back Trump in the spring, under pressure. But as the convention approached, she said she couldn’t. And the state party chair pulled her credentials.
A former Republican Party delegate from Arizona is accusing the state GOP and its chairman of submitting false information in order to remove her as a delegate after she proclaimed her intention to vote her conscience at this week’s convention in Cleveland.
Lori Hack alleges that Robert Graham, the chairman of the Arizona GOP and a Trump supporter, submitted false information to the Republican National Committee and acted outside of party rules and regulations in order to remove her from the state’s delegation—because she refused to support her party’s then-presumptive nominee.
In a memo provided to The Daily Beast, Hack’s attorney says it “appears certain” that Graham “acted unilaterally” in removing her as a delegate, in direct violation of both RNC and Arizona GOP rules.
Hack told The Daily Beast that she did, in fact, sign a pledge to support Trump but maintains that she was “coerced” into doing so by Graham. Despite newly adopted state regulations which mandate that delegates must vote for the candidate who won the Arizona primary, Hack says a written pledge is not in the rules.
State party officials have said her removal as a delegate is justified because she broke her pledge to back Trump. Hack cites the party’s 2012 rules, which do not require delegates to vote for the candidate who won his or her state’s primary.
The ordeal began last week when Hack informed Graham that she intended to vote her conscience at the convention, rather than in favor of Trump, who won the state with 47.1 percent of the vote and thus all of its 58 delegates under the state’s winner-take-all system.
She said that despite her decision, she was not resigning as a delegate. Party rules state that a delegate can lose his or her credentials only through death, resignation, or contest—that is, an official challenge by the state party. None of those occurred, Hack said, leading her attorneys to conclude that Graham acted on his own to revoke her credentials.
In order to deny Hack her delegate credentials, Graham would have been required to submit a request to the RNC Committee on Contests. Instead, Graham appeared to bring the case in front of the Committee on Credentials.
“Because the Arizona Republican Party did not file an official contest before the Committee on Contests, the Committee on Credentials did not have any jurisdiction over the matter,” said Trevor M. Stanley of Baker & Hostetler, the law firm representing Hack.
The attorneys confirmed through the RNC, however, that Graham challenged Hack’s delegate status through neither the contests nor the credentials committee. She has not heard from the national party since Friday.
“Based on these facts, the only route to remove Ms. Hack as a delegate was by unilateral action by Chairman Graham in contravention of the applicable Party rules,” Stanley continued.
Hack is in Cleveland for the GOP convention, but she told The Daily Beast she is only considered a guest because she has been unable to restore her delegate status. She described the entire Republican Party structure as corrupt and rigged.
“We asked the Convention Contest Committee at their final meeting yesterday to hear our case and as yesterday's perverse actions on rules showed, the chairman denied any member to bring it forward on our behalf,” Hack said. “The corruption is at all levels—state and RNC.”
Hack previously told The Daily Beast that Graham leaked a letter to the media that was intended for Hack before it was even sent to her. The letter stated that she resigned her position as a delegate. According to Hack, that never occurred.
Since then, the mother of four boys has been threatened online by Trump supporters who say she “doesn’t belong in America” and should be “carrying protection 24/7.”
Anti-Trump forces mounted numerous efforts in recent days to allow delegates to “unbind” or vote their conscience. The Rules Committee failed to adopt such a measure last week after a simple voice vote. On Monday, the same group threw the convention floor into chaos when it attempted yet another vote on unbinding the delegates. They were again denied a roll call tally on the final Rules Committee report after putting together a petition from a majority of delegates in nine states.
The move by Graham is being viewed as a way to cement his power and prominence in GOP circles, as he is reportedly angling for the job of RNC chairman. Graham did not immediately return a request to comment on Hack’s attorney’s letter.
Speaking with The Arizona Republic, a state party spokesman pointed to a convention floor vote on Monday which resulted in the approval of Arizona’s delegate list. Hack’s name was not on that list. The state party maintains Hack did not appropriately dispute Graham’s decision to remove her.
Asked by The Daily Beast if she is considering legal action against the party apparatus, Hack said simply, “time will tell.”