By James Thompson
As many people know, I have been “dropped” from membership in the
CPUSA. This article will present the exact exchange between me and
various characters in the national leadership who have corresponded with
me over this issue. It is important for the working class to be well
aware of how their party treats their membership. Through education,
this author hopes that an informed working class will fight for control
of the party that historically has best represented them in this country
and around the world.
Here is a letter sent to Sam Webb and Jarvis Tyner as well as a
number of party officials requesting an appeal of the decision to “drop”
This letter was sent on 7/29/12 at 8:10pm.
Dear Sam and Jarvis –
I would like to appeal the decision by the National Board to “drop”
me from membership in the CPUSA. I want to exercise my right under
Article VII, Section 6 of the CPUSA constitution to appeal the decision
to “drop” me from membership to the National Committee.
This letter is being submitted not just on my behalf, but on behalf
of the members of the original Houston club who have discussed it at a
club meeting and agreed that I submit it as well. I came to the
realization that I have a duty to defend myself as well as the members
of our club who have elected me through democratic process to be their
In the July 8, 2012 e-mail from John Bachtell to me, the party
informed me that I have been “dropped from membership.” Here is the
We are sending this email after numerous attempts to speak with you in person and by phone, without response.
It is clear your continued actions are incompatible with membership
in the Communist Party USA. Therefore, based on a discussion in the
National Board you have been dropped from membership.
Please turn over all Party records and finances in your possession to
the newly organized and officially recognized Houston club.
If you have any questions about this action please feel free to call me at ……..
July 8, 2012”
I don’t have the power to hand over the money or anything else
without the democratic consent of the club. The original Houston club
voted on July 4, 2012 not to hand over the money or anything else to the
new club by 9-0.
By this letter I appeal to the National Committee to reverse this
decision to drop me. There have been no charges made against me, only
that my “continued actions are incompatible with membership in the
Communist Party USA.”
What “continued actions?” The national leadership has not asked me to discontinue any actions.
I assert that the CPUSA constitution has been egregiously violated by this letter to me from John Bachtell.
Bachtell’s e-mail letter does not adhere to the provisions of the
Party’s Constitution under Article VII (Disciplinary Procedures and
Appeals). His e-mail violates Section 1 since I have never been informed
of the charges against me. Section 3 was violated in that no charges
were made against me to the original Houston club. Also, no trial
committee was elected and did not hear charges, or make recommendations.
Section 4 was violated in that I was never notified of the charges
against me. Section 5 was violated in that there was no trial committee
and no votes were taken. Disciplinary measures have not been reported to
the original Houston club, i.e. the club of which I am not only a
member, but am the duly democratically elected club chair. There has not
been an automatic review of my expulsion (let’s not mince words since
that is what happened) by any bodies within the CPUSA.
When I heard in mid June that there was a possibility that Bachtell
might visit Houston, I sent an email to him (June 13th) inviting him to
meet with the Houston Club. I received no reply to my email and heard
nothing from the Texas district leadership. My wife and I left for a
pre-scheduled weekend getaway in San Antonio on Friday June 29th with a
plan to return on Sunday evening July 1st. I had a prearranged
conference call scheduled for the evening of July 1st. Monday, July 2nd
was a workday for me (and for many others). I had a full schedule of
appointments. Bachtell’s first email to me came on Sat., June 30th after
he had already arrived in Houston.
Why was it not possible for him to correspond with me to work out his
schedule in Houston before he arrived either by e-mail or phone? Am I
being “dropped” because I was out of town or at work and could not make a
Here is the exact sequence of e-mails between John Bachtell and me
leading up to the letter dropping me from membership. First you will
note my e-mail to John Bachtell inviting him to meet with the whole
Houston club issued on June 13. I sent this e-mail because I was hearing
rumors that they were coming to Houston. I had not received any
official notice from district or national leadership about the visit at
“On Wed, Jun 13, 2012 at 9:09 PM, Paul wrote:
Dear John -
We have talked over the phone in the past.
We understand that you are likely to come to Houston in the near
future. We certainly would welcome the opportunity to meet with you and
discuss our points of common ground as well as differences. Some members
have already expressed interest in such a meeting. We want to work
together to build maximum unity and resolve differences in a mutually
respectful and beneficial manner.
However, we don’t know the details of your visit. Please let us know
if you would be available to meet with us and if you need us to make
arrangements for a meeting place, etc.
We look forward to welcoming you to Houston.
Peace & solidarity
Club Chair, Houston Communist Party”
I received no response to my e-mail until June 30 at which time I was
vacationing in San Antonio with my wife. Here is the first response I
received from John Bachtell:
“From: John Bachtell
Date: Sat, 30 Jun 2012 10:21:50 -0500
To: Paul Subject: Re: Meeting in Houston
As you know Juan and I are in Houston. We along with Bernard would
like to meet with you while we are here. We propose 7 pm Sunday at the
Kim Son restaurant (downtown at 59th and Jefferson)
Please let me know if this is good for you.
I responded with the following e-mail:
On Sat, Jun 30, 2012 at 6:51 PM, wrote:
My wife and I are in San Antonio now. I asked Bernard about the meeting
last Sunday at our monthly meeting and he said he didn’t know anything
about the meeting with you and Juan.
We will return to Houston tomorrow, however I have scheduled a phone call with a Union brother from NY at the time you propose.
I would be happy to meet with you the next time you are in Houston.
Please show us the courtesy of giving us advance notice so that we can
gather the whole club together to meet with you. We feel that informing
us at the last minute is disrespectful.
John responded to my e-mail at 10:54am on July 1, 2012 with the following e-mail:
Thanks for returning my email. We have also made several attempts to
reach you by phone and have left messages to schedule a meeting with
you. We have not gotten a response yet.
We would be happy to meet with you anytime and anyplace at your convenience Sunday or Monday until midafternoon when we depart.
Looking forward to hearing from you.
As you can see from the sequence of e-mails, Bachtell proposed a
meeting with me individually at the end of their visit. Since I had not
been given the opportunity to plan this meeting, it was impossible for
me to meet with John and Juan at the end of their visit. You can see
from my e-mail that I offered to meet with them in the future if they
give me the opportunity to plan and schedule a meeting with them. This
offer still stands.
I should point out that I have been a loyal member of the CPUSA since
2003. I have written hundreds of articles for the People’s Weekly World
and People’s World using the names James Thompson and Paul Hill. I
attended the 2005 convention in Chicago as a delegate from Texas and
wrote the article covering the convention’s solidarity action with the
staff on strike at the Congress Hotel. I have attended party meetings in
St. Louis on African American equality. I have attended state
conventions in Texas in Austin. I have attended district meetings in El
Paso and in Oakland. I participated in the march on Wall Street and
marched alongside Jarvis Tyner and Libero della Piana in 2009. In fact, I
made up the slogans and hand printed the posters for that march. I
attended the march on Washington for Jobs on 10/2/10 and helped Bill
Davis and others organize the party presence there. I attended an
anti-war march in Washington, DC and marched with the party contingent,
distributed PWWs and helped set up the party table and helped clean up. I
wrote the first article for the PWW after Hurricane Katrina covering
the survivors in Houston. I wrote many articles for the PWW that were
printed on the front page including an article on an AFL-CIO action in
Little Rock, Arkansas. I wrote many centerpiece articles, including one
on waterboarding and one on immigration and detention of undocumented
workers. I covered the BP disaster in Texas City in which many workers
died. I covered the Essence music festival in Houston and went to an
anti-war march in New Orleans where I distributed PWWs and wrote up the
event for the paper. I covered two AFL-CIO Martin Luther King day
celebrations, one in Houston and one in New Orleans. Most recently, I
have launched a campaign to overturn the anti-Communist law in Texas
which prohibits Communists from running for public office or holding
state government jobs. All of this has been done on a volunteer basis
and I have received no remuneration from the party for any of these
activities. I have participated in fundraising for Democratic Party
candidates for U.S. House of Representatives candidates in Houston and
informed Jarvis Tyner and district leadership of this effort. I have
participated in the Labor Neighbor program through the AFL-CIO and have
been a regular supporter of the Justice for Janitors effort by SEIU in
Houston. I have written numerous articles supporting both. I attended
the Jobs with Justice conference in Providence, R.I. with Texas district
leadership. I attended the Texas state AFL-CIO convention in Corpus
Christi when state district leadership could not due to illness. I
attended and voted for the endorsement of Single Payer Health Care which
was ultimately endorsed by the Texas state AFL-CIO convention in Corpus
Christi. I have worked for Democratic Party candidates dating back to
George McGovern. I was a delegate to the Texas state Democratic Party
convention for Jesse Jackson in 1988. I was a delegate to the Texas
state Democratic Party convention in 2004 for Dennis Kucinich. I was a
delegate to the Texas state Democratic Party convention in Fort Worth
and attended with Texas CPUSA district leadership.
It is not easy living in Houston, home of George H. W. Bush and Tom
DeLay (I worked very hard on the AFL-CIO effort to replace Tom DeLay
with Democrat Nick Lampson, which was successful). It is even more
difficult to organize a CPUSA club here in the deep South. In fact, from
2003 until 2009, there was no Houston club of the CPUSA. I changed that
and built a vibrant, thriving club.
Some comrades have asked the question, “Why can’t there be two CPUSA
clubs in the fourth largest city in the United States of America?” Our
original club recognizes the right of the new club to form and we wish
it every success in building the party. On the other hand, the new club
and the national leadership have attempted to impose the dissolution of
our original club on us. Our club is perplexed by these maneuvers and we
don’t understand how dropping my membership and dissolving our club
will help build the party and how this will help build working class
We are requesting clarification and are appealing the decision to “drop” me from membership in the CPUSA.
I am requesting that copies of this letter be distributed to all
members of the national committee as well as the national board.
Peace & solidarity
Club Chair, Houston Communist Party
To my knowledge, the CPUSA leadership ignored my request that my
letter be distributed to all the members of the National Committee.
Instead, they sent this letter to the National Committee:
“To: National Committee
From: National Board
Many of you are aware we have been dealing with a destructive factional
situation in the Houston club for the past several years. National and
district leaders have made many attempts to resolve this situation to no
The club leader, Pat Thompson, had established a website which
consistently carried out anti-Party attacks on our democratically
arrived at policy, national convention decisions and personal attacks on
We had repeatedly asked Thompson to cease the public attacks and remove
anti-Party material from the website. Because he refused to comply, the
CPUSA issued a statement late last year which publicly disassociated the
Party from the website.
Thompson had also reposted numerous articles from the Marxism-Leninism
Today website, another source of anti-party attacks generated by former
Additionally, Thompson invited a former leader of the CPUSA to a club
meeting with the expressed purpose of aligning the club with an
opposition network and, failing to change Party policy, to form a new
This May we received a communication from members of the club seeking
intervention. They explained they were not in agreement with the
attacks on the Party and had been waging a struggle against the
factionalism. They had hoped to solve the problem internally but this
proved not possible. The factional activity led to a paralysis of the
club and the acrimony drove away members.
The National Board with the agreement of the TX district leadership,
asked John Bachtell and Juan Lopez to visit Houston at the end of June
with the purpose of responding to the request for help, including
establishing a new party club if necessary and meeting with as many
members, new and old, as possible.
John and Juan made repeated efforts to meet with Thompson, but were rebuffed. They concluded Thompson was unwilling to meet.
They held numerous meetings with members and friends and assisted in
the establishment of a new club of comrades who support the party policy
and seek to be integrated into the national and state organization. As
it turned out over 70% of the membership supported this direction.
Since its establishment the new club has fully immersed itself in
activity, including the rolling janitor’s strike turning Houston upside
down, built a website and Facebook page, begun fundraising and building a
treasury, written several articles for the People’s World, sought to
renew its mass ties and continued outreach to new members.
On July 5, Juan and John reported the results of their visit to the
National Board. The NB decided to officially recognize the new club as
the sole representative of the Communist Party in Houston and drop Pat
Thompson from Party membership for his egregious acts of factionalism in
open violation of the CPUSA constitution.
The NB informed Thompson of this in a letter. Thompson appealed the
decision on the basis that he had not been informed of the charges and
asked for a hearing. Meanwhile, the website he operates that claims to
speak for the Communist Party of Houston continued to attack Party
policy and leaders.
The National Board, with the agreement of the Texas District leadership adopted the following;
To allow someone so openly and clearly anti-party to exploit the
democratic provisions in our constitution to continue to attack the
Party and embroil us in a prolonged internal dispute is not in the
interests of the Party.
Given Thompson’s history, proceedings would no doubt be trumpeted widely
on the Internet and social media. To publicly engage the Party in a
fight that will consume vast amounts of time and energy would only serve
his interests and anti-Party factional elements around him.
Therefore, on August 2 the National Board rejected Thompson’s appeal.”
John Bachtell “just followed orders” when he sent a letter to me on 8/9/12 rejecting my appeal of the decision to “drop me”:
We received your appeal of the July 5 decision to drop you from
membership in the Communist Party USA for egregious acts of factionalism
in violation of the CPUSA constitution.
Even after your appeal, the website that you operate, which claims to
speak for the Communist Party of Houston, continues to attack Party
policy and leaders.
To allow anyone so openly and clearly anti-party to exploit the
democratic provisions in our constitution to continue to attack the
Party and embroil us in a prolonged internal dispute is not in our
On August 2, the National Board, vested according to the CPUSA
constitution with the authority to act for the good and welfare of the
entire Party, rejected your appeal.
Comrades, brothers and sisters, people of the working class:
It is time that we stand up for our interests and fight for a better
world, not for better imperialism. Don’t sit at home, do nothing and
“just follow orders”. It is time for working people to fight for their
party, the CPUSA.
Although I have been expelled from the party, I still consider myself
to be a member of the party. I am just one person. The people on the
National Board seem to have been elevated to a superior position as
compared with the National Committee and certainly the National
Convention. The National Board is made up of just a few people. If you
add the entire National Board and myself together it does not make up
even a recognizable fraction of the working people in the USA. It is
time for working people to step up to the plate and demand respect for
the membership of our party and demand respect for the working people
from our party, the CPUSA.
Furthermore, the Houston club (original) rejects its expulsion and
attempt at dissolution by the national leadership of the CPUSA. It
rejects the expulsion of its duly democratically elected chair. It
demands that the leadership of the CPUSA stop its unconstitutional
activity and return to the proud tradition of the party in opposing
imperialism and anti-working class activities in all its forms. We must
fight for the working class, not against it.
Comrades, brothers and sisters, people of the working class:
Don’t tell yourselves, “it can’t happen here.” If it can happen in Houston, it can happen anywhere.
Stand up for your rights! Unite and fight for a better world through
socialism and democracy! “Don’t cling so hard to your possessions,
because you’ve got nothing if you’ve got no rights!”