12 Minutes on Accountability
Audio footage from conversation where MNGOP Executive Director avoids a simple question and hides behind his sergeants at arms and his ability to call the cops instead of truthfully responding
Yesterday’s post was only a 2-minute clip from the following 12 minutes, which is unedited audio footage from my conversation chiefly with MNGOP Executive Director Mike Lonergan and at least three others. I pray that is provides context and insight into how the MNGOP operates. I also hope it provides an example of when faced by opposition that is in parts amusing and sad:
1) Stand one’s ground,
2) Ask honest questions, and
3) Speak the truth.
You will see that multiple men attempt to influence me before eventually deciding to call the police.
New Leadership at Stake
I’d arrived in St. Cloud on Friday night, December 2nd, where I attended a couple meetings in preparation for the MNGOP State Central Committee meeting to be held the following day, which I intended to observe as a guest. Only state central delegates (elected in 2021, and again this coming year, 2023) make up the roughly 300-person voting body. It was an important day for the party because the Chair, David Hann, who was involved in several illegal actions, was running for re-election and could be held accountable and replaced.
During breakfast the morning of, I was notified that Phillip Parrish, a candidate for Chair, had been in a multiple car accident over 1 hour from St. Cloud. His car had been totaled, but he was okay. I decided to go pick him up and drive back with him. I dropped Mr. Parrish at the entrance to St. Cloud Tech High School—he went inside as it was already 11:40am and the process had already begun inside to see if the proposed rules of this convention could be amended to allow nominations from the floor (Mr. Parrish had 28 eligible signatures, 2 short of the requirement by the 5pm Wednesday deadline). It was decided to waive the deadline but instead of 30 signatures, 50 people were required to stand up and form a line to support Mr. Parrish before he could be nominated. More than 50 people did. At just over 50 people those running the meeting cut off this process presumably because they didn’t realize how many were supportive of Mr. Parrish. Remarkably, perhaps in part because the delegate deck was stacked against Mr. Parrish, David Hann was re-elected as Chair.
In the 12-minute audio footage above, there is much to comment on, in time.
However, the crux is about accountability.
Mr. Lonergan, who is the Executive Director of the MNGOP, appears not willing to respond to his decision from May of 2022 where he broke his political party’s own proposed rules ahead of the convention to exclude me from participating in the secretary of state endorsement process. (Read the highlights of that decision here.)
6 months later, Mr. Lonergan still cannot answer to that.
Initially, Mr. Lonergan tries to say that I cannot enter as press because I am not credentialed. I have contributed to a USA Today article for two governors as well as ghostwritten or cowritten several books including a Wall Street Journal bestseller. This Midwest Seeds substack has for the past year provided arguably the only reliable and routine reporting on election integrity. Maybe by ‘press’ Mr. Lonergan meant propagandists.
Notice that Mr. Lonergan does not go out of his way to be welcoming or suggest the guest process. When I do, he begrudgingly explains the process. There were delegates and alternates who could vouch for me. (That wasn’t the roadblock.)
Once confronted with a simple question to hold him to account, Mr. Lonergan changes course and hides behind the rules that he only follows when it suits his interests, the same behavior hundreds of people witnessed inside the convention and throughout the MNGOP’s notorious recent history, some briefly describe in this book.
Below is a computer-transcription with light edits:
Were you here throughout the registrations this morning then?
Um, yeah, I'm an employee of the party, so yeah.
Were there -
help with registration.
Was there quite a good turnout?
Normal about 350 people or so.
Okay, that's good.
Which uh, organization are you with?
I write for an independent blog. It's called Midwest Seeds.
I'll check it out.
Are you my press person that just showed up?
What's your name?
Erik van Mechelen.
Um, you're not with the media?
You're not with the media.
I have an independent blog—
Yeah, you're not credentialed media. So,
nope. Sorry. I'm gonna have to ask you to leave.
I'm gonna have to ask you to leave.
Why are you asking me to leave?
You're not the press.
I have, well, when I, when I spoke with a previous person, I said I could come in as a press or as a guest, whatever, whatever is best.
Then you would need to have to find a, a delegate to register you as a guest.
So what would be the process to do that?
You need to find a delegate or an alternate to vouch for you.
And then you can see Ron to fill out the guest voucher and then pay the guest registration.
And, and who am I speaking with?
Nice to meet you, Erik.
It's good to meet you. Mike. I wanted, I wanted to ask you, I wanted just like clear the air on,
Are you recording this conversation?
Are you recording this conversation?
Like, may I record? This is a public conversation.
Is that is that really necessary?
If I, um, I guess it's not necessary, but would it also, I was also interested to speak with you from a long time back about why you made some decisions that you made regarding the endorsement.
I got a lot of work to do right now, so you have my contact information. Feel free to send me an email. But again, if you want to be registered as a guest, you need to follow the procedure, which means you need to find a delegate or an alternate to fill out the voucher form and then register and pay with Ron.
I'm very happy to do that. I was, I was just curious why though you didn't follow the, your own process in the endorsement at the GOP campaign (convention).
That's not true, and I'm not getting into this nonsense with you.
I have, I have the emails that you sent to me.
You know what, that's, you can leave. Have this, have a nice day. Please leave. I am asking Jordan, can you get (inaudible, sergeant at arms) ?
Kim, would you mind recording as they escort me out of the building as I try to get in over the last couple of minutes, would you mind recording? They're, they're gonna, they're planning to escort me from the building. Would you mind recording it? (Declines) That's okay.
You're welcome to leave now or you can be escorted out, which would you prefer?
So, simply for asking you a question.
Erik, let's go. Come on, come with me please.
Mike, this is this.
I'm asking you nicely to leave.
And I'm, I just arrived and I'm asking to be, to, to follow the process that you just, you just presented, which is, if I have a delegate or an alternate, I can,
This is a, this is a private event and we are more than free to ask you to leave.
Mike, I, I'm gonna stand here and follow the process that you suggested. This young woman?
Yeah. Yeah, yeah. I'm an alternate. This gentleman is,
uh, no, I'm just start.
Hi, my name's Erik van Mechelen. Yeah.
Erik, you're being asked to leave.
And Mike informed me that— so I'm an independent blogger as well as I have delegates and alternates inside.
that can vouch for me to be a guest. So I asked,
You have been asked to leave.
But Mike has also asked me to leave.
So what I like to take the option -
Did you register as a guest?
I am very happy to register as a guest and that's why I'm here.
Then became misleading and disruptive. And so I have asked him to leave.
How have I been disruptive, Mike?
You have been asked to leave.
Yeah, you have to.
I've been, I've been asked to leave by being disruptive by being asked to leave?
Let's go. You have to go.
There's the door.
I mean, we don't wanna have to call the police.
I'm, I'm sorry. I'm what? We have to,
I'm, I'm sorry, sir.
No, you have to leave.
See, the thing is you don't get to make the ruling. The party makes the ruling. And I just enforce the ruling. And so if we have to, we'll call the police and have you removed.
But in the meantime, they've made the decision. The decision's already made. You have to go.
Is anyone, is anyone else? Hey Diane. Is it not? Is it not true? Is it not true? There's a delegator,
Now get out!
Or alternate that can vouch for me as a guest that I can come in as a guest?
Not anymore. You have been asked to leave. You are not authorized to be here, and now you will go.
You have to go .
If Diane is a chair of my BPOU-
If you came with somebody, that's a different story, but you've already been asked to leave. So it's, it's beyond that point.
I've been here, I've been not in this building, but I've been here since yesterday for this event.
I don't wanna have to call the police and have you removed.
I've asked, but we will, if we have to.
yeah, you need leave here or you'll be arrested for trespassing.
This is a private event.
Pardon me, but
Not, not pardon me. That's, that's the deal.
That's the fact. It's private deal right now. This is where you're at now.
You can leave or, or we can call the police.
Is the MNGOP not gonna allow me to be as a guest within their process?
I already made clear to you that you've been asked to leave.
It's already been decided that you're not coming in and you've been asked to leave and you have to go,
That's it, final -
I don't understand.
Final answer, final answer. Go.
Mike just said that the process was, if I have a delegate or alternate, which I do inside.
Then you became misleading and disruptive, and I asked you to leave.
Can you explain me how I was misleading and disruptive? Excuse me sir,
You'll be trespassed and then -
That's it. We're not changing our mind, so leave. Yeah,
But you're not following your own process by your words,
Call the cops.
You're not following your own process, by your words.
Just call the police.
We went beyond that.
You're gonna be trespassed, which is a criminal offense.
Diane. Diane, can you provide some some help here?
I've been, I've been very upfront with you in my BPOU.
Before you came in here, that might have been one thing, but now it's been decided that you have to go. So now you have to go.
You either have to go -
This young lady said that I could get in either as press, I'm an independent blogger, or with the delegate or alternate as a guest.
I said I had to check with Mike.
You don't have to.
It's been, it's been decided that you're leaving.
And Mike has also confirmed that as the, as his, and now you've back tracking on that.
No, they confirmed that you have to leave. That's, that's confirmation.
You either or you get charged by the authorities,
Is the, is the process not Mike
Do you want to get arrested for trespassing?
Is the process not what Mike just shared with me?
We're beyond that. You leave,
It sounds like you're going back on your own process. That's what sounds like to me.
I'm explaining something simple.
Our process was we decided that you had to leave and now you have.
So if someone comes in that you don't like, you can ask them to leave?
Yes. It's a private event and private organization.
for any reason, we could do that.
they can ask me to leave,
He can ask me to leave.
He can tell me You gotta go and I gotta go.
So, but you're
No, no. There are no buts.
You are hearing Mike's...
It's done, it's over.
You have not heard any part of the story. You have just,
it doesn't matter.
You have just heard what Mike has said..
No, it doesn't matter.
Once the decision has been made -
Do us a favor and just leave before the cops get here.
I, I'm not gonna be intimidated by your ability to call the cops.
Okay. We'll just call the cops and have you arrested.
Sorry, Erik. Sorry.
What are you sorry about? I'm, I'm good with God. I'm not so sure that y'all are.
I'm, I'm, I came in here to, to take note of what happens at this important event. Is not an important event?
And you've been turned away.
So you have to go.
Guys, you don't have to say anything else to this guy. Let's just wait to, if he's not gonna leave, we'll just wait.
Did you guys, did you guys know that Mike Lonergan broke the proposed rules by not allowing me to the state convention (May 2022) to be an endorsed candidate for secretary of state? He emailed me before the deadline of the proposed rules for the endorsing convention at the secretary of state level
for which I was eligible.
If you have, if you have a, if you have a problem with that, then you go to the BPOU and tell them about what happened.
Why would I go to the BPOU when Mike, when Mike violated the, his own constitution and bylaws in making that ruling?
Well, making that,
and that's the reason why, that's the reason why he's saying that I'm being disruptive right now.
It's already been determined that you have to leave.
I have it on paper. I have the receipts.
They're en route (the police are coming)., well mm-hmm. . Okay.
You're done might be a correct statement.
No, I, I get nothing here, I am (inaudible).
So why you're not curious to hear my side of the story?
It doesn't matter. You were asked to leave. It's a private event. No story matters then. It doesn't.
No story (laughing).
It doesn't. Sorry. If they ask me to leave.
Were you, you, were you guys aware that Mike violated the MNGOP constitution, bylaws, in -
We're not. We're not discussing that.
You're not curious about that though?
That's what he's upset about and that's why he called you here.
That's not interesting to you?
No, none of it is.
You're comfortable with, with, with his decision in the past, which, for which there was no accountability for -
None of it matters.
And that's the reason why he's ticked off right now. That's all.
You know what?
As soon as I brought that up,
The only one upset is you.
As soon as I brought that up, he called you guys to come and let me know that -
that I'm gonna be taken out of the building.
That's our job here to go do,
Do you understand private?
Do I understand private?
Do you understand the word.
Do you understand accountability?
No. Do you understand the word private?
Do you understand the word accountability? Because Mike Lonergan is not accountable to his own actions and hides behind you three. That's what it looks like to me.
No one's hiding me behind.
Well, why wouldn't you guys let me in then?
It's a private function.
Because it's been determined that you have to leave.
It's been determined that I have to leave. I see.
Yeah, there was, there's not a vote.
I see. I see that this gentleman is actually somewhat empathetic to my cause.
I'm not empathetic to anything. The, the executive director (of the MNGOP) asked you to leave, you're not going into the convention, because you're getting disruptive.
I, I don't know that, see, that's an interpretation. If you had seen the conversation that we'd had, I don't think anyone in here would've, would've made the case that I was being disruptive.
I think what happened was, is that I tried to hold him to account.
If you just wanna wait until the police get here, then just sit here and be quiet. I'm not gonna sit and go back and forth with you. Okay. Decisions made. You're not going to the convention, you have to leave. So we'll just sit here and wait until the police get here.
In the meantime, do you mind if I call some of my delegates and alternates who are inside to see if they can vouch for me?
We are waiting for the police?