The overall attempt, now largely abandoned, to have the Republican Convention release delegates to vote their consciences, has always seemed somehow unfair, if only because it would change the rules in mid-stream, thereby apparently depriving those of voted for the delegates who would be released of those voters’ voice.
There is, however, one exception to that unfairness. If those voters in making their decision, in fact relied on a promise by the candidate, since broken, then it may be the voters who are being deprived of their vote by the status quo.
For example, and it is surely an important one, there was a significant period during the primary process during which Trump had promised to release his tax returns before the election, and before he changed his mind. It may be that there are voters who made their choice in part on that promise, and that therefore there are delegates now bound to a firt ballot, or more, choice based on voters the basis for whose choice has been undermined.
There might be passed a Convention Rule that allowed delegates to petition the appropriate Committee to release from their voting obligation any delegate given a vote at the convention as a result of a primary or caucus vote taken during the period of time between the promise to release tax returns, and the rescinding of that promise. Such a rule would be highly liminted in application and would obviosly be removed from all force by the release of the returns before the ultimate convention itself. It is hard to see it as unfair.
If the assumption behind the rule — that the broken promise led to unfairness was not true, then the delegates would be under no obligation to request or make use of the release. Moreover, the passing by the Convention as a whole of the Rule could only happen if a very significant portion of the party felt the need to correct the situation.
It would appear that by May 12, it was clear that Trump was unlikely, at best, to release his returns before the election. As close to the voting as January 24, Trump certainty gave the impression that he would release the returns. “We’re working on that now. I have big returns, as you know, and I have everything all approved and very beautiful and we’ll be working that over in the next period of time,” the billionaire real estate developer and entertainer said Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” The Iowa Caucuses were on Feb 1, this year. So all delegates selected before May 12 would appear to fall into this strange status.
By May 12 a total of about 1,078 Trump delegates had been selected. (Interestingly, it was on May 10 that Trump broke through his FiveThirdyEight “target,” also getting to over two third of what he needed in total, and then cruised to the nomination. Maybe he then felt free to back down on his promise). I do know know how many of those delegates were legally bound, or whether freeing them would have any impact, but it might be worth thinking about.