CNN Political Reporter Peter Hamby
Washington (CNN) – The Republican National Committee is brushing off a lawsuit against the party by Ron Paul supporters as “frivolous” but it is nonetheless coordinating a “joint defense” effort to fight the legal challenge, according to an internal RNC memorandum obtained by CNN Tuesday.
The complaint, filed in U.S. District Court in California last Tuesday by over 100 self-described delegates to the Republican National Convention in Tampa, alleges that the RNC and its chairman, Reince Priebus, quietly and improperly aided Mitt Romney throughout the GOP nomination fight.
The legal filing, which names Priebus and GOP chairmen in every state as defendants, “seeks the guidance of the court” on whether the plaintiffs are free to break with certain state party rules and vote for the candidate of their choice at the August convention.
The plaintiffs claim that so-called “binding” delegate rules – in which delegates are required to vote for the winner of their state’s primary or caucus at the convention – violate federal law and prevent delegates from exercising their “Constitutional right to vote their conscience” in Tampa.
Because delegates may shift their votes at the convention, they argue, Romney does not yet have the nomination locked up.
According to the complaint, however, the RNC and affiliated state GOP leaders systematically “engaged in a scheme to intimidate and harass” delegates supporting candidates other than Romney during the nomination process.
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This “harassment,” the suit alleges, included numerous violations of party rules, threats of violence, ballot tampering at state conventions and “intimidating demands” that delegates sign affidavits promising to vote for Romney.
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