TAMPA, Fla. – Patton Boggs partner Benjamin Ginsberg is facing a growing storm of criticism from Republican delegates who say he pushed through a rules change that would help Mitt Romney if the presumptive GOP nominee ousts President Barack Obama and seeks reelection.
Ginsberg, who serves as the Romney campaign’s top lawyer, led the effort to insert language into a rules committee report that would allow presidential candidates to select their own delegates in states they carry, stripping away a power that the state Republican parties hold, according to members of the rules panel. But a group of delegates plan to present amendments that would eliminate Ginsberg’s alterations before the report goes up for a final vote on Tuesday.
Curly Haugland, a national committeeman from North Dakota who sits on the convention rules committee, said Ginsberg’s revisions, which came on Friday, were a last-minute surprise.
“I’ve never seen anything like this,” said Haugland, who has served as a Republican National Committee member for 10 years.
Ginsberg couldn’t immediately be reached for comment. But, according to the website BuzzFeed, Ginsberg said he made the change “to correct what we saw as a damaging flaw in the presidential election process in 2012,” an apparent reference to Ron Paul’s candidacy in which the libertarian’s delegates promised to cast their ballots for him.
RNC Vice Chairman Jim Bopp in e-mail to RNC members likened the revisions to “killing a fly with a sledgehammer.” The move is “biggest power grab in the history of the Republican Party,” he wrote.
“This proposal is an [overreaction] to the problems in a few states where Ron Paul delegates threaten to not support the winning Presidential candidate,” wrote Bopp of Terre Haute, Ind.-based law firm Bopp, Coleson & Bostrom. “I agree that they should honor that pledge, but that can be fixed by a few tweaks in a few state laws.”