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Grant Loebs, the chairman of the Idaho GOP’s legislative District 24 and a member of the state Central Committee – and also the Twin Falls county prosecutor – says in his view, state GOP Chairman Barry Peterson’s term ends on June 24, which is next Tuesday. “The chairman is elected for a two-year term,” Loebs said, and Peterson was elected at the party’s 2012 convention in Twin Falls on June 23. The chairman’s term is described in two ways in the party rules, Loebs said, both as a two-year term, and one that ends when the next chairman is elected and takes office immediately at the state convention, which could be slightly less than two years. “So one way or the other, he’s out on the 24th at the very latest,” he said.
Loebs said he viewed last night’s rules committee meeting, which Peterson convened, as without any effect. “A committee which was improperly constituted was called upon to answer questions they have no prerogative to answer and to make pronouncements that they have no power to make,” Loebs said. “This committee was treated as some kind of a supreme court, when in fact its only job is to advise and recommend things to the state Central Committee.”
Said Loebs, “It’s kind of a tin-horn dictator type coup. And the question is what do you do when somebody stages a coup and has the office and changes the locks and has their hands on the bank account and the computer systems, how do you get them out of there? In this country, we don’t do it through violence, so we have to work through all the processes that are available to us.”
“In my view,” he said, “on the 24th, things will be even more clear, and on that day, Mike Mathews, first vice chairman, will be the highest-ranking Republican Party official in Idaho, and it will be incumbent upon him to find a way to select a new chairman, and the rules are quite clear on how that is done.” Loebs said the first vice chairman in that situation can call a Central Committee meeting to fill the vacancy.
Embattled former Idaho Republican Party Chairman Barry Peterson, who maintains he’s still the party chairman, confirmed this morning that he’s changed the locks at the state party offices and that party executive director Trevor Thorpe is no longer with the party, leaving just finance chief and office staffer Mary Tipps, who started a month ago, on the state party’s paid staff. “The staff is composed of two, and three or four volunteers,” Peterson said. “And Trevor is going to pursue his master’s degree. Two weeks ago or maybe even three weeks ago, he told me that within a week or so of the convention, he wanted to head out for his master’s degree, so that did happen.”
Peterson said he had the office locks changed “for security reasons.” He said over the years, through many changes, it had become unclear where all the keys to the offices were, so he decided “that it would be just as well to have things be where we knew where all the keys were. So we did that, just for security purposes.”
Peterson said he believes the party’s rules committee that met Thursday night and voted to keep him and other officers in place for two more years was “properly noticed” and constituted. As for the executive committee that met a day earlier and reached the opposite conclusion, holding that party offices were vacant, voting to reappoint several others but not the chairman and deferring to the Central Committee to handle the chairmanship selection, Peterson said, “I didn’t have a hand in it. I know what the rules talk about relative to the executive committee.”
Peterson said he and Tipps are “working hard to try to meet the responsibilities of the office,” including paperwork involving elected party positions for each county and district and contact information for them. “It’s a heck of a workload and we’ve been distracted from being able to get all that done, so we’re just trying to get it done,” he said. “We’ve got plenty of work to do.”
Democratic candidates for office in Idaho, led by 2nd District congressional candidate Richard Stallings, Nels Mitchell, who’s running against GOP Sen. Jim Risch, and Bert Marley, who’s challenging Lt. Gov. Brad Little, will tour the southern half of the state next Tuesday in support of the Raise the Minimum Wage Campaign, with rallies in Idaho Falls, Pocatello, Twin Falls and Boise. Stallings’ campaign announced that the plan is to “draw a spotlight on the situation 29,000 Idahoans live with on a daily basis trying to live on $7.25 an hour.” There’s more info here.
The chaos continues at the Idaho Republican Party, after dueling purported party committee meetings on consecutive days reached wildly different conclusions about who’s in charge. This all arises from the failed Idaho GOP state convention last weekend in Moscow, which adjourned without doing any of its business – electing officers, adopting a party platform or passing resolutions – after days of fighting over attempts to eject various groups of delegates amid an intra-party rift.
On Wednesday, a party executive committee meeting was called “to address the vacancies in the various party offices.” Idaho GOP general counsel Jason Risch reported that party rules don’t allow the executive committee to choose a chairman – that has to go to the full Central Committee – but the panel voted to retain four of its current officers: First Vice Chairman Mike Matthews, 2nd Vice Chairman Todd Hatfield; Treasurer Chris Harriman and Secretary Marla Lawson. Risch wrote in an email after the meeting, “This is a big step forward in unifying the party,” saying the four represent both of its wings, the tea party and establishment sides.
Then, on Thursday night, Barry Peterson, who was party chairman until the convention and maintains he still is, called a meeting of the party’s Rules Committee, with two members representing each region, and after spirited arguments, a majority of that group declared the previous day’s meeting invalid and ruled that Peterson’s still in charge, and all officers and policies will remain as-is for the next two years as declared by convention Chairman Raul Labrador shortly before the convention voted to adjourn last Saturday.
Risch didn’t attend the Thursday meeting, writing in a letter to Peterson, “My attendance alone would serve to undermine my legal opinion and validate your status.” Risch told Peterson, “If it is your desire to once again become the chairman of the Idaho Republican Party, there is absolutely nothing to stop you from running for that position at the upcoming state Central Committee meeting.”
At the rules committee meeting – which Risch said wasn’t a valid meeting of the rules committee nor valid members – the North Idaho regional representatives were tax-protesting former state Rep. Phil Hart and unsuccessful legislative candidate Danielle Ahrens. Hart wrote on Facebook, “There are some in the Republican Party who want to negate all the work of the Convention and throw out any of the work that was done and have all business ultimately handled by the State Central Committee. Others want to accept what business was completed by the Convention and get on with the work of the Party. The latter group believes that Congressman Labrador correctly advised the delegates of the Convention that any unfinished business would be just that, unfinished business; and that if there were not new party officers elected by the 2014 Convention, then the officers elected in 2012 would serve another 2 years until the 2016 Convention.” That side prevailed, he wrote. “I was honored to serve.”
Meanwhile, former state party Chairman Trent Clark wrote on Facebook, “Tonight I watched as a dozen political activists threw all principle and integrity away in a desperate effort to retain their grasp on power. So-called defenders of ‘limited government’ just voted to empower their political bosses with tyrannical authority. … It saddening to see how quickly principle is tossed aside when the power-hungry think their opportunity to exercise dominion over others might be slipping away.”
With the GOP in disarray, the Idaho Democratic Party is holding its own state party convention in Moscow this weekend. The schedule includes platform hearings, panel discussions and a street party today; and on Saturday candidate speeches, a grassroots organizing training session, a Central Committee meeting, and a 7 p.m. “Victory Feast” featuring former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell, among other events. Democratic Party Chairman Larry Kenck said in a statement, “Idaho Democrats have our priorities straight because we listen to the families and business leaders in our communities. … Whatever happens at our convention, I am confident that we will leave town after successfully conducting the business that we have come to conduct. And, we will have a great time while we are doing it!”
The row between Barry Peterson — who insists he remains Idaho Republican Party chairman over the objections of Gov. Butch Otter and the Republican National Committee — and others in the party escalated Wednesday night when the party's Executive Committee elected interim officers, Idaho Statesman columnist Dan Popkey reports.
Peterson said early Thursday that he was unaware of the meeting, Popkey writes, which was described in an Wednesday night email by GOP general counsel Jason Risch, who has opined that the chairmanship has been vacant since the state convention adjourned Saturday without electing officers.
“I was in the office all day yesterday and nobody came to the office and said a word to me about the meeting,” Peterson said, adding that he did speak with Risch about a Thursday night Rules Committee meeting. Risch, however, said Peterson was informed. “Barry was absolutely invited to the meeting, he was on all the email notices, in fact I personally talked to him yesterday afternoon about it,” Risch told the Statesman Thursday.
Risch's Wednesday email says eight of the 12 Executive Committee members met and voted to retain four officers but not a chairman: First Vice Chairman Mike Mathews, Second Vice Chairman Todd Hatfield, Treasurer Chris Harriman and Secretary Marla Lawson. The four represent both the party's tea party and establishment wings. “The appointment of these individuals allows the day to day operations of the Idaho Republican Party to continue including the filing of the election (finance) reports,” Risch wrote. Popkey’s full post is online here.
The Idaho GOP has just sent out this statement regarding its rules committee meeting tonight: “The Idaho Republican Party will hold a Special Standing Rules Committee meeting this evening, Thursday, June 19, at 7:00 p.m. at the Idaho Capitol Building in room EW42, to address the status of the Party's elected officers. No comments or questions will be allowed from guests or the media during the meeting, however in the interest of transparency, the meeting will be open to any persons interested in listening to the proceedings. All parties must enter and exit the Capitol Building through the 6th Street doors.”
Attorney Christ Troupis has completed his legal analysis, and has concluded – counter to the opinion of attorney Jason Risch – that former GOP Chairman Barry Peterson and other party officers remain in office now, after the failed state party convention last weekend ended without a vote on new officers. “No vacancy exists in the position of Idaho Republican Party chairman or other party officers at this time,” Troupis writes. “Accordingly, Barry Peterson, having been duly elected, remains as chairman and the other party officers also remain in office.” You can read Troupis’ full analysis here.
Not only is that not the conclusion that Risch reached in his legal analysis for the party, it’s also counter to the conclusion of John R. Phillippe Jr., chief counsel for the Republican National Committee, who wrote to national GOP Chairman Rance Priebus “to advise you that in my opinion there is a vacancy in Idaho’s RNC delegation because the state party chairman position is vacant.” KTVB reporter Jamie Grey has posted Phillippe’s letter at the end of her report here at the KTVB website.
Idaho 1st District Congressman Raul Labrador made his pitch to fellow House Republicans today in his bid for House majority leader. “Remember, we regained control of the House in 2010 because Americans believed that Washington was not listening,” Labrador said. “If you vote for the status quo tomorrow, you will prove that we are still not listening. We will break our pledge, and with that we may lose the ability to regain control of the Senate and eventually win the Presidency.” You can read his full remarks here; he’s considered an underdog in his bid for the majority leader post against California Rep. Kevin McCarthy, the current majority whip. The position is opening because of Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s defeat in the Virginia GOP primary by an underfunded tea party challenger; the vote is scheduled for Thursday.
Here’s a link to my full story at spokesman.com on the latest on the spectacular blowup in the state’s majority Republican Party that led to a failed state party convention over the weekend, and now is generating plenty of recriminations and finger-pointing. It ranges from a late-night deal offered to Gov. Butch Otter after midnight at his Moscow hotel room and rejected, to questions over whether the party has a chairman now or not and how it can proceed forward.
Barry Peterson says he disagrees with the legal opinion offered to the Idaho GOP by attorney Jason Risch, and believes he’s still the party chairman – and he’s requested another legal opinion from attorney Christ Troupis on the matter. “I’m adopting the position that was tendered at the convention when the motion for adjournment was made,” Peterson told Eye on Boise this afternoon. The convention chairman, 1st District Congressman Raul Labrador, conferred with his parliamentarians and announced that the result of voting for adjournment would be that “the party officers and the party position as to the platform etc. would be as they were constituted,” Peterson said. “Overwhelmingly, the vote was carried.”
Peterson said Troupis’ legal opinion, like Risch’s, will be done for the party without charge. “It’s my personal opinion that the position taken by the party when they cast their vote should be the position of the party,” Peterson said. “Everybody got to vote on it there at the convention. We’ll see what happens.”
Peterson said he’s called a meeting of the central committee’s rules committee for this Thursday at 7 p.m. in Boise, to review the two legal opinions and discuss what to do next. “They’ll be working on the problem, trying to find a resolve that seems appropriate and in harmony with the rules,” he said.
The party also has received a formal petition calling for an emergency meeting of the central committee, which Risch’s legal analysis noted is the body charged with filling vacancies in officer positions. “The process for that is … I get 10 days to schedule the meeting, and have to schedule the meeting within 30 days of that 10 days – our rules allow for that,” Peterson said. He said one touchy question is where he calls for the meeting to take place. “No matter where I call that meeting, I’m going to get spears in both sides of me,” he said, because members have to participate in person, and the location could benefit those on one side or the other if it’s easier for them to get there. “I just, I want to do the right thing for the right reason,” Peterson said. “And I don’t know what will happen.”
He also said he thought the convention’s spectacular breakdown on Saturday – the only votes taken were on refusing to seat various delegates, and none of the scheduled business was taken up, from the chairmanship to the platform – was planned in advance. “By design, they intended from the very beginning by parliamentary procedure to get the whole convention to go for four hours without taking a vote, and they were successful in that,” Peterson said. He said he couldn’t say who “they” were. “I do not know who put the plan together,” he said. “But I have no doubt that that’s what happened.”
Days after Idaho Republicans walked away angry and defeated from the conclusion of the GOP convention, some are saying the event may have damaged the GOP's efforts to win elections and attract voters, reports Kimberlee Kruesi of the Associated Press. Idaho's Republican convention ended Saturday after failing to elect a new state party chairman or amend its party platform. It's the first time party delegates failed to accomplish anything in nearly 60 years; click below for her full report.
Idaho Gov. Butch Otter says he was contacted in his hotel room in Moscow after midnight Thursday night about a deal to resolve the split over the GOP party chairmanship at the tumultuous state party convention that concluded Saturday. “The agreement that they’d cooked up was if I would agree to endorse Russ Fulcher for chairman, then they would seat the delegates,” Otter told Eye on Boise today. “I said, ‘Well, wait a minute – you’re making me a majority of one on credentials? They’re either delegates or they’re not delegates.’”
The governor said, “I made about five phone calls back.” Otter said he spoke with Mike Moyle, Bart Davis, Scott Bedke and Doug Sayer. He said he concluded, “I couldn’t tell those delegates who to vote for, and I couldn’t bargain away that democratic process that we were trying to provide for with the selection of delegates.”
Otter added, “There were all kinds of things going around, but the only deal they asked me about was the one I just described. … I responded back to everybody that called me, and said I had a real problem with being a majority of one on the credentials committee.” If the delegate selection was improper as some charged, he said, “How can you make it legitimate just by making a deal?”
As to what should happen next, Otter said, “I think we ought to follow the rules. My understanding is the rules say the chairman of the party is elected for a two-year period from one convention to the next. That’s a term limit.”
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna added, “Yeah, we don’t have a chairman right now.” He said the party also lacks a first and second vice chair now. “What we have is a national committeeman and national committeewoman,” Luna said. “They’re elected to four-year terms. But we do have a central committee.” Said Secretary of State Ben Ysursa, “Right now, it’s in the central committee.”
When Ysursa noted that central committee in normal times wouldn’t meet again until January, Otter said, “Well, this is abnormal times.” Otter said even if the election of the chairman goes to the central committee, “That’s a lot closer to the grass roots with the precinct people and the delegates deciding that, than they are if the governor hand-picks.”
Meanwhile, the party requested a legal opinion from attorney Jason Risch about the status of its chairman after the failed convention, which bogged down over the question of seating delegates and never did any business, including electing a chairman, passing resolutions or adopting a platform.
Risch’s analysis concluded, “After considerable research and based upon the applicable facts, it is my legal opinion that there is no provision for automatically extending the terms of the officers of the Idaho Republican Party.” So the chairman, vice-chairs, secretary and treasurer positions for the party are now vacant, he found. “The rules provide that the state central committee has the authority to fill vacancies occurring in these offices.” You can read the full analysis here.
State Rep. Vito Barbieri, R-Dalton Gardens, is praising the tumultuous GOP state convention in Moscow over the weekend as a “victory for taxpayers.” Meanwhile, as GOP leaders and activists from the various factions struggle with the fallout of a convention that failed to elect a new chairman, adopt a platform, or pass any resolution or rules changes, former state senate Majority Leader Rod Beck, R-Boise, said, “I’m calling it the ‘Moscow mess.’” Beck said, “None of this has been a clean way to do things.”
Barbieri, in a blog post this morning, said, “Taxpayers should be rejoicing that finally top down policy is no longer the norm in the Idaho Republican Party.” He said he viewed the Ada County delegate selection for the convention as “knowingly in gross disregard of the Party Rules.”
“THIS TIME, there were appropriate ramifications,” Barbieri wrote. “Rather than suffer through a protracted and torturous parliamentary struggle, the convention, again by majority vote, adjourned at the time set in the published agenda. The officers stay the same. The policy stays the same. There is still hope for Idaho taxpayers tired of the 'central control' advocated by the centrist Republicans.”
Another view was offered by frustrated Valley County GOP delegate Robert Lyons, Idaho Statesman columnist Dan Popkey reports, who sent an email to fellow delegates calling for a mail-in vote for party chairman. “All of us went to Moscow to get some work done and have our votes count,” he wrote in his email. “The leadership should be absolutely ashamed and adjust the rules for this never to happen again. Nothing was accomplished but to be the laughing stock of Idaho.” Popkey’s full post is online here.
Idaho Republican Party Chairman Barry Peterson said this morning that it’s still unclear what will happen next after the weekend’s failed GOP state convention, in which no new chairman, platform, rules changes or resolutions were voted on. “Things are in the mix, trying to sort all that out,” Peterson said. “But I do know when when they called for the adjournment, Raul announced at the podium before taking the vote that in adjourning, the officers and the positions and the platform and all that would remain as they were.”
There were questions, though as to whether positions with term limits would need to be decided by the party central committee. “I don’t know the actual outcome of anything,” Peterson said. “Work is being done trying to sort it all. … It’s being worked on.”
Peterson said, “I want to take my hat off to Raul Labrador, because he worked so very hard. And he was behind the scenes working diligently to try to find a way to bring peace to the event, and to the selection of the chairman. He just spent hours. I know at least two nights he was up ‘til midnight working on it. And my hat’s off to him for the incredible amount of work he tried to put together in bringing peace to the overall thing.”
Asked how he feels about how the convention went, Peterson said, “Well, it appears to me that politics can be very rough and tumble.” He said, “What I personally would hope is that there might be a peaceful resolve come to people’s minds, which seems to be impossible, and that they would be happy to live within the rules of the party and do the best work that we can all do unitedly within the rules of the party.”
Here’s a link to my full story at spokesman.com on how Idaho’s state Republican Party convention degenerated into a fiasco today after attempts to disqualify a slew of the delegates attending appeared to be succeeding – and the convention ended up adjourning without electing a chairman, setting a platform or doing any of it scheduled business. Far from uniting the deeply divided party, the gathering in Moscow degenerated into dysfunction - though the GOP is the party that holds every statewide office in Idaho, every seat in the congressional delegation and more than 80 percent of the seats in the state Legislature.
It also proved not to be the finest hour for convention chair and 1st District Rep. Raul Labrador, whom many looked to as the healer for the fractured party just a day after he announced that he's running for Majority Leader of the U.S. House; instead, he ended the convention facing jeers and walkouts from his own party members.
State Senate Assistant Majority Leader Chuck Winder, R-Boise, said, “It’s a real shame that a convention comes to that stage, where there really wasn’t any real floor leadership, there wasn’t any fairness in the process, either in the credentials committee or on the floor. It was all pre-determined. It’s kind of ‘who’s going to have the power,’ rather than working together.”
Idaho EdNews reporter Clark Corbin also has a full report here on the convention fiasco, in which a frustrated House Speaker Scott Bedke, R-Oakley, says, “Is it a mess? Yes. That's my quote,” and Sen. Dean Cameron, R-Rupert, calls it “a sad day for the Republican party.”
Idaho’s just-concluded state GOP convention was seen as something of a test of leadership for 1st District Congressman Raul Labrador, who chaired the convention and just a day earlier had announced his run for U.S. House majority leader. But Labrador failed to bring the deeply divided party together, resulting in an unprecedented failed convention that didn’t vote on a platform or new chairman, and simply left town and adjourned in disgust.
“It’s hard to blame all this on Raul Labrador, but on the other hand, this does not strengthen his credentials for a national leadership position, either,” said BSU professor emeritus Jim Weatherby, a longtime observer of Idaho politics. Weatherby said the only comparable event he can think of was Nevada’s GOP convention fiasco in 2008, which was canceled before delegates to the national convention had been selected. “And again, Ron Paul forces or libertarian forces were involved in that fiasco as well,” Weatherby said.
“I think it has to have some impact” on the November election, he said. “It does further emphasize the point that a lot of people have always made, that Idaho is a three- or four-party state, not a one-party state, and two or three of those parties call themselves Republican.”
Idaho Congressman Raul Labrador, chairman of the state GOP convention that failed spectacularly today to unite the party and instead broke up in total discord, told Melissa Davlin of Idaho Reports, “For three weeks I’ve tried to broker a deal to prevent what happened today.“ But he failed.
Labrador said he worked with all three people who were running for party chairman, and he worked with people from both factions within the Idaho Republican Party, the libertarian/tea party faction, with which he’s most closely identified, and the more establishment faction that’s identified with GOP Gov. Butch Otter. Labrador told Davlin that at this point, he can’t think of anything he would have done differently, and he believes people just need to walk away and cool down.
Reported Davlin, “Both sides were just so fed up – they were done.” She noted, “Yesterday it was more angry, today it was frustrated and fed-up and incredulous. There was a difference. … They had been through hours of parliamentary procedures and confusion over rules and all of these things, and they still weren’t getting anywhere.” She added, “I heard people on both sides say that this is the last time they’re going to come to a state convention.”
Incredibly, Idaho's state Republican Party convention has just adjourned without taking any action on a platform, a new chairman, or anything else, after two and a half days of meetings, tense debates over rules, and divided but successful votes to disqualify a fifth of the delegates present based on disputes between the libertarian/tea party wing of the and the establishment wing. Sen. Bob Nonini, R-Coeur d'Alene, made the motion to adjourn. Convention Chairman Raul Labrador called for adjournment, which was challenged, but the challenge was voted down. So now the convention is over.
Labrador called for an immediate GOP Central Committee meeting; the central committee is gathering now. Far from uniting the party, the gathering in Moscow has become the site of the party's implosion into total dysfunction - though it's the party that holds every statewide office in Idaho, every seat in the congressional delegation and more than 80 percent of the seats in the state Legislature. It also proved not to be the finest hour for Labrador, who many looked to as the healer for the fractured party just a day after he announced that he's running for Majority Leader of the U.S. House; instead, he ended the convention facing jeers and walkouts from his own party members.
Labrador announced that officers and platform planks all will remain as they are now - meaning the Idaho GOP platform will continue to call for doing away with direct election of U.S. senators, the one big plank the platform committee had voted yesterday to dump.
After hours of lots of dissension and contention, the Idaho Republican Party convention has broken down, after divided votes to refuse to seat the delegations from three counties, Ada, Bannock and Power. Now, there’s a push to adjourn the convention – without doing the business it came to town to do, adopting a platform, electing a chairman, passing resolutions and so forth. Officials are puzzling over rules; Lt. Gov. Brad Little said the party is mandated to hold a convention, not to elect a chairman. If the chairman’s term expires, the central committee could fill the position.
Rep. Paul Romrell told Idaho EdNews reporter Clark Corbin, “This is a fiasco.”
Groans, cheers, parliamentary maneuvers and delays are about all that’s come out of the Idaho GOP state convention so far this morning, where it took an hour and a half just to go through the opening roll call. Various procedural disputes are hanging up the process of getting to the reports of the convention’s four committees and the question of whether delegates and committee assignments are valid. At one point, the AP reports, convention Chairman Raul Labrador implored the delegates, “We’re going to be here all day if we do this.”