Sheehan Letter Misconstrued, Former Utah National Committeewoman Says “Delegates Are Bound by State”

“Where misunderstanding serves others as an advantage, one is helpless to make oneself understood. “

Lionel Trilling

For months, a letter from Jennifer Sheehan, former assistant counsel for the Republican National Committee, has been circulating around the net. In particular, Ron Paul supporters have latched onto this letter, believing it to affirm that Rule #38 of the Rules of the National Convention (adopted 2008) makes delegates unbound.

Unfortunately, this is not the case. The Sheehan letter, which was misconstrued by those who ran with the idea, dealt with an entirely different situation. A Utah delegate wanted to vote for Mitt Romney, who had dropped out of the race. At the time, Utah was seeking to re-bind the delegates to McCain, who did not win their primary. This situation prompted the Utah delegation to seek assistance from the Republican National Committee on their rather unique situation.

Nancy Lord, former National Committeewoman for Utah, was the person who corresponded with Jennifer Sheehan. Ms. Lord, who has her own blog, posted this in June of 2012:

There is currently much internet buzz about one Utah delegate who asserted his right to vote for Romney, and not the presumptive nominee McCain, at the 2008 National Convention, and more importantly about a quote attributed to Jennifer Sheehan, then an Associate Counsel for the RNC’s Legal Department . 

(The quote, which is being passed around on the internet, is based on a blog post found at )


The quote attributed to Ms. Sheehan is as follows:

 “[The] RNC does not recognize a state’s binding of national delegates, but considers each delegate a free agent who can vote for whoever they choose.” And, “The national convention allows delegates to vote for the individual of their choice, regardless of whether the person’s name is officially placed into nomination or not.”

The truth is that only the second sentence is directly attributable to Ms. Sheehan. 

I am the one who wrote the first sentence: “The RNC does not recognize a state’s binding of national delegates, but considers each delegate a free agent who can vote for whoever they choose.”, after receiving the email correspondence below from Jennifer Sheehan.  That sentence was apparently inadvertently attributed by the blog above to Ms. Sheehan.  I do not claim that that sentence is legally accurate. 


However, as a practical matter, RNC Rule 37 empowers individual delegates to vote their conscience.  In essence, Rule 38 is the “why”, while  Rule 37 is the “how”. 


One more correction – that Utah county gop blog is inaccurate in one other important fact. It implies that Brian Jenkins was the only delegate that did not want to vote for John McCain.  The truth is that it was I, not Brian Jenkins, who was the first 2008 Utah delegate to assert any effort to vote for Romney. Later in the week, Brian Jenkins joined me and ended up also voting for Romney. If you read the official book containing the transcript of the 2008 GOP National Convention, you will see there were two delegates from Utah that voted for Romney.

Lord maintains that it was her sentence, not Sheehan’s, that has caused so much excitement and the belief that delegates are unbound.

She goes on to say this:

I want to make it clear that I do not believe in any way that a Republican National Delegate should cast a vote in violation of their state party’s properly and timely adopted rules governing their binding of national delegates.  In fact, I am the one who made the nearly unanimously adopted motion in the RNC Rules Committee, the week prior to the 2008 Convention, to insert the proper form of the words “allocate or bind” into every appropriate place in the RNC’s Rules that previously addressed only the question of “selecting or electing” national delegates. If you compare the current version of the RNC Rules with the version that governed the 2008 convention, you’ll see that there are numerous places which now include “allocate(ing) or bind(ing)”. 

Ms. Lord does, however, believe that binding should be proportional. She does not agree with a winner takes all binding.

Sheehan’s sentence saying that the RNC allows them to vote their conscience seems to refer to RELEASED delegates, not ALL delegates.

Not good news for those who have banked on Sheehan’s letter for the Republican National Convention.

There may be other ways to secure a nomination from the floor for Dr. Paul. Abstention may be the answer; depending upon how the vote is done. Newt Gingrich released his delegates today, so they are up for grabs, as well as those belonging to Rick Santorum.

Without Sheehan’s letter to lean on, what will be the next move to put Ron Paul into the White House? Awaiting outcomes of challenges, the Paul campaign hasn’t made that clear. However, underestimating Paul supporters would be a grave mistake for the Romney campaign. Tampa awaits.

“It’s the well-behaved children … that make the most formidable revolutionaries. They don’t say a word, they don’t hide under the table, they eat only one piece of chocolate at a time. But later on they make society pay dearly.”

Jean Paul Sartre

About angiedavidson75

mama,political activist, cat lover, free thinker
This entry was posted in Politics and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Sheehan Letter Misconstrued, Former Utah National Committeewoman Says “Delegates Are Bound by State”

  1. Larry Seiter says:

    Thank you for getting to the bottom of this issue, Ms. Angie. I enjoy your Liberty-minded posts.

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