What Charlotte’s RNC Contract Says About Cancellation

3 potential points of conflict if the GOP heads to another city

The Republican National Convention appears to be headed elsewhere. Various letters and statements between GOP chair Ronna McDaniel, President Donald Trump, and state officials over the past weeks culminated in these tweets Tuesday, in which Trump announced that the RNC was searching for a new host city:

The state and Republican National Committee, the convention’s formal host, had been negotiating in apparent good faith about a modified convention under COVID-19—until May 25, when Trump issued a series of demands via Twitter. He ordered Governor Roy Cooper to guarantee a full arena for the convention, scheduled for August 24-27 at Spectrum Center. Cooper responded that he couldn’t, given the pandemic. From that point forward, the GOP demanded full capacity in the arena and in surrounding bars, hotels, and restaurants. On Monday, Cooper wrote to McDaniel and Marcia Lee Kelly, the convention president and CEO: “Neither health officials nor I will risk the health and safety of North Carolinians by providing the guarantee you seek.”

On Wednesday, Charlotte magazine requested and received the framework agreement for the convention, the formal contract between the City of Charlotte and the Republican National Committee. Here are three key passages that provide some insight into the possible legal battles ahead:

1. Public Safety
Section 4.2 says that officials must enforce regulations and actions from the state and city governments, including those that concern public health and safety: “ … the Host Committee agrees that in no event shall authorized employees of the City be prevented from performing and carrying out their governmental functions and purposes; or responding to any police, fire, or medical emergency, in, at, or around the Convention Complex (including, without limitation, all areas designated as limited access by the RNC) or responding to any public safety or security situation of the City.”

That would include orders from Cooper, whose reopening plan for the state makes no assumption that pre-pandemic gatherings will allowed by August; Phase 2 of the plan allows no more than 10 people in a mass gathering indoors and a maximum of 25 outdoors. Full section below:Screen Shot 2020 06 03 At 12.36.41 Pm

2. Extension of the Convention Period
The “Convention Period,” with possible dates offered in the original 2018 agreements, would seem no longer tenable during the pandemic. The contract offers this on the notion of extending those dates: “In the event that the RNC, despite its best efforts, is not able to complete the Convention within the time period stated in the definition of “Convention Period,” the Parties will use their reasonable best efforts to extend the Convention Period for those facilities and with respect to those services that are essential to continue the Convention until the Convention adjourns sine die (the “Convention Period Extension”). All time references in this Agreement shall refer to such time in the City. A Convention Period Extension may also occur by the mutual written consent of all Parties.”

See the definition of “Convention Period” below:Screen Shot 2020 06 03 At 1.22.07 Pm

3. Financial Obligation
In this circumstance, the RNC would likely be the party to violate the contract because the city has not canceled the event. “We have a contract in place with the RNC to host the convention and the City Attorney will be in contact with the attorneys for the RNC to understand their full intentions,” city officials said yesterday in response to the news that the RNC is looking elsewhere.

“It is not going to be easy for anyone to say ‘We’re out,’” Republican City Council member Ed Driggs has told The Charlotte Observer. “This is a legal, commercial and political minefield.”

Screen Shot 2020 06 03 At 1.29.47 Pm

Read the entire contract here.

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