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Blake Hall resigns from national GOP role

Former Idaho Republican Party Chairman Blake Hall, a lawyer, longtime public official and prominent political player in the state, has resigned from his seat on the Republican National Committee, Idaho party Chairman Norm Semanko announced today, two days after Hall reported to the Bonneville County Jail to begin serving time for a misdemeanor stalking conviction involving an ex-girlfriend. Semanko released this statement:

“Over the weekend, Blake Hall informed me that effective immediately he has resigned his position as National Committeeman of the Idaho Republican Party.  Blake’s successor will be chosen by the Idaho Republican State Central Committee.  I am grateful for Blake’s many years of service to the Republican Party and appreciate that he put the Party first by submitting his resignation.”  

Click below to read the full story from reporter Todd Dvorak of the Associated Press.


Hall steps down from national GOP committee
TODD DVORAK,Associated Press Writer

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Blake Hall, a lawyer and longtime power broker in the state and national Republican Party, has stepped down from his position representing Idaho on the party’s national committee.

Idaho Republican Party Chairman Norm Semanko announced Hall’s resignation Monday, three days after Hall pleaded guilty and was sentenced in an eastern Idaho courtroom for stalking a former girlfriend. Semanko said Hall, who was the RNC’s chief legal counsel from 2007 until resigning in January, made his intentions known over the weekend.

“I am grateful for Blake’s many years of service to the Republican Party and appreciate that he put the party first by submitting his resignation,” Semanko said in a statement.

Hall’s successor will be chosen by the Republican State Central Committee when it meets Jan. 9 in Boise, said Jonathan Parker, executive director of the Idaho Republican Party.

The 56-year-old former state GOP chairman was convicted of misdemeanor stalking and sentenced by District Judge Don Harding to six months in jail, with all but 15 days suspended. He was also fined $1,000 and ordered to one year probation.

Hall reported Saturday to the Bonneville County Jail to begin serving his sentence.

Idaho Falls police began investigating Hall’s behavior in August after the 37-year-old woman filed a complaint alleging she was repeatedly being stalked by him, sometimes at restaurants, movie theaters or in their neighborhoods after their relationship ended.

In court Friday, the woman told the judge she was “so tired of being victimized. It is unimaginable that a 56-year-old would be so deviant,” the Post Register reported.

Hall apologized to the court, the woman and the community for his actions and vowed better behavior in the future.

“I can assure the court and the community that my conduct will be more than exemplary,” Hall told the judge.

Hall has also been active in policy-making at the state level for decades. In April, he stepped down after serving nine years on the state Board of Education, which oversees public and higher education statewide. He was appointed to the state board by former Interior Secretary and Idaho Gov. Dirk Kempthorne, and remains administrator of the state Catastrophic Fund, which covers medical bills for the indigent.

Hall also practices law in a private firm in Idaho Falls. Hall had also served for more than 20 years in the civil division for the Bonneville County attorney’s office, but was terminated Monday, according to Bonneveille County Attorney Dane Watkins Jr.

In 1985, Hall, at age 32, was nominated to be chairman of the Idaho Republican Party, taking over after the death of Dennis Olson. He resigned from that post four years later, and with it the position on the national Republican National Committee.

But a year later he was elected by Idaho Republicans to be a national committeeman, and his tenure made him one of the highest in seniority among the RNC’s 168 members.

His exit from the state political stage over the last year also comes at a period of tension within the party, specifically between moderates and those on the more conservative wing.

Three years ago, Hall worked with former state party chairman Kirk Sullivan to beat back a measure that would have required ever Idaho GOP candidate to pledge allegiance to the entire state party platform, or explain areas where they dissented.

Last year, Hall’s status as national committeeman was challenged during the GOP annual convention. His challenger, Rod Beck, is a supporter of closing the Republican primary elections as a way to prevent Democrats or independents blamed by some for picking Republican candidates who are not fully on board with all the party’s values and social conservative ideals.

Hall held his post, but Sullivan was ousted, replaced by Semanko.

GOP leaders marvel at Hall’s political clout, how he was well connected and had developed strong ties to national party leaders, and they say his departure could have a big political impact statewide and Idaho’s influence on the national party scene.

“Anytime you lose somebody who has demonstrated over time significant influence, then of course you’re going to lose something,” said Republican and Idaho Senate President Pro Tem Bob Geddes. “You lose the contacts, the influence and that identifying mark for Idaho when you’re talking with people from around the country.

“He still had significant credibility and influence within the state party. With that being taken away, then I’m saying ‘yea’ there is going to be a void there that’s going to be difficult to fill by anyone else,” Geddes said.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press.

 


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Betsy Z. Russell covers Idaho news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Boise.

Named best state-based political blog in Idaho for 2013 by The Fix

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