Hon. Terri Lynn Land
Secretary of State
Department of State
430 W. Allegan
Christopher Thomas, Director
Bureau of Elections
Department of State
430 W. Allegan
Dear Secretary Land and Director Thomas,
I am counsel for Nader for President 2004 campaign in this matter. I am writing in regard to your letter of July 9, 2004 concerning the submission of a certification of nomination for Ralph Nader and Peter Camejo as the Reform Party candidates for the office of President and Vice-president of the United States. That petition was signed by John Muntz as Chair and Eleanor Renfrew as Secretary of the Reform Party of Michigan.
In your department's letter of July 9, 2004 you state that you cannot accept the certification of nomination of Mr. Nader and Mr. Camejo "as the nominees of a qualified political party in Michigan" because of the existence of a purported dispute between individuals making conflicting claims to be Chair and Secretary of the Reform Party of Michigan. You base this statement on your subsequent receipt of a letter from Matthew Crehan who asserts that he is the Chair of the Reform Party of Michigan and who purportedly stated to you that Ralph Nader and Peter Camejo are not the nominees of the Reform Party.
Your office has concluded, apparently on the strength of American Independent Party v. Secretary of State, 397 Mich 689 (1976), that you have no duty to investigate and resolve said dispute and that you urge the parties to reach agreement on the representation of the Reform Party in the State of Michigan.
While I understand your concerns, I must stress that there is no need or basis for the Secretary of State or Division of Elections to resolve any disputed claim. The National Convention of the Reform Party of the United States of America acting upon the recommendation of its Credentials Committee on October 12, 2003 recognized the group chaired by Matt Johnson as its Michigan state committee. Mr. Johnson was subsequently succeeded by John Muntz as chair. Section 9(c) of the Constitution of the Reform Party of the United States of America provides that:
The National Convention shall:
* * *
c) have the exclusive power to grant Official Recognition to State Party Organizations. Official Recognition of a State Party Organization shall be granted by majority vote of the registered Delegates.
Constitution, Section 9, Reform Party of the United States of America.
Pursuant to the foregoing, John Muntz and Eleanor Renfrew are presently recognized as the State Chair and Secretary, respectively, by the Reform Party of the United States of America. See, State Contacts link of the Reform Party's national website, www.reformpartyUSA.org. In addition, Mr. Muntz is a member of the Reform Party's National Committee for the State of Michigan. See, National Committee icon, Committee link at www.reformparty.org.
Nowhere on any Reform Party website or other public record is Mr. Creehan recognized or acknowledged as the representative of the Reform Party in Michigan.
Mr. Shawn O'Hara, the national chair of the Reform Party has advised you by letter dated July 8, 2004 that neither Mr. Crehan nor Mr. Mark Forton have "any legitimate claim to leadership in the Reform Party of Michigan in the eyes of the National Reform Party". Mr. O'Hara has also stated to you that the division or split of the Reform Party in Michigan that was extant in 2000, and to which you refer in your July 9 letter, has been resolved in favor of Mr. Muntz and Ms. Renfrew by a vote of a majority of the delegates at the National Convention. See, Letter of Shawn O?Hara, July 8, 2004.
Contrary to this documentary record, Mr. Crehan offers only the conclusory statement that Mr. Muntz and Ms. Renfrew do not represent the Reform Party and that Ralph Nader and Peter Camejo are not its nominees. Nowhere does Mr. Crehan substantiate this claim which is wholly controverted by the Reform Party's public records acknowledging Mr. Muntz and Ms. Renfrew as its Michigan leaders and publicly recognizing Ralph Nader and Peter Camejo as its nominees. News media reports have also widely acknowledged that Mr. Nader and Mr. Camejo have been nominated by the Reform Party.
Accordingly, there is no need for your office to "resolve" any dispute since the national party has already resolved this matter in favor of the group of which Mr. Muntz is chair. The Crehan claim amounts in substance to a refusal by an individual or group thereof to accept the ruling of the national party.
I must stress how seriously Mr. Nader and Mr. Camejo treat this matter and that we hope the Secretary of State will recognize their rights to be placed on the ballot without litigation. I look forward to further discussion with you and I do expect that your office will recognize my clients' rights without further controversy.
In the interim, however, your decision to withhold such recognition has forced my clients to reinvigorate their petition signature drive to seek nomination by qualifying petition pursuant to MCLA 168.590g. As you are aware, MCLA 168.590g recognizes a candidate's right to ballot placement by seeking nomination by qualifying petition. My clients had commenced a petition signature drive for this election cycle but did not devote the resources they would have in the ordinary case because they learned they were likely to receive the nomination of the Reform Party of the United States of America. Your July 9, 2004 letter refusing to accept their ballot placement in the Reform Party column has forced my clients to recommence said signature drive to maintain their ability to seek access to the ballot by alternate means.
Accordingly, to preserve their rights to appear on the ballot in the event that their preferred Reform Party ballot position is not recognized by the courts, the Nader/Camejo campaign expects to file a minimum of approximately four thousand, five hundred (4,500) signatures on July 15, 2004.
Please be advised that this filing is prophylactic in nature and is intended to demonstrate the Nader/Camejo campaign's intent and ability to secure ballot position by qualifying petition, if necessary. We realize that this estimated filing will not in itself satisfy the signature requirement but we anticipate seeking equitable extension of the filing deadline due to the unexpected interference with our Reform Party ballot position. Under no circumstances should this submission of signatures be deemed to prejudice Mr. Nader and Mr. Camejo's nomination by the Reform Party and the preservation of their claim to the Reform Party ballot position in Michigan.
We would appreciate your acknowledgment of the foregoing.
Very truly yours,
Bruce I. Afran
C: Mr. Brad Whitman