Member's Press Release

Release Date: 11/30/2010
Contact: Kayla Brown, (304) 357-7808

Senator H. Truman Chafin

Senate Majority Leader Calls for Honoring the Spirit of Closed Caucus Rules

Both the democratic and republican party caucuses are closed and not open to the press or the public. Legislative leadership posts, although of great interest to the public, are primarily selected in a closed door setting for good reasons. Caucus members need to feel free to discuss the internal Senate operations and these matters are analogous to personnel matters, which are likewise not open to the public or press.

I respectfully suggest that Senators should not discuss matters that will be on our closed caucus agenda. Often these matters are sensitive in nature. This is why the decision on these matters is made by secret ballot. There is a certain sanctity of a member’s vote and a certain decorum that is preserved through this process that is time tested and time honored.

We are obviously called upon to discuss our fellow members, their leadership abilities, their education, temperament, and other matters that are and should remain inside the closed door meeting. We must also discuss who should be the Senate Clerk, very important position, the Sergeant- at- Arms and the Doorkeeper too. Administrative matters, including pay scales, and other internal Senate operations decisions are open for discussion and these matters can only be discussed and debated in a private setting to protect the comments of our members and encourage each member to enter an honest and open dialogue for the benefit of our great state of West Virginia. Ultimately, these matters are dealt with on the floor of the Senate, but not before the respective caucuses have had an opportunity for frank, open and sometimes very personal discussions.

Accordingly, I urge my fellow Senators to be mindful of our rules and honor the decorum of the Senate and thus refrain from public discussions of Senate leadership that include comments on the capacity of any member of the senate to do anything. Each Senator is qualified to serve in the Senate by virtue of having been elected by the voters of their district. Personnel matters that should and will be discussed in private under the protection of our close caucus rules should not be addressed publicly by members. Anything else would certainly violate the spirit of our closed caucus rules.

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