BOISE – Embattled Idaho GOP Chairman Barry Peterson filed a lawsuit Thursday seeking to maintain control over the state’s divided Republican Party and stop attempts to challenge his authority.
According to the lawsuit, Peterson is seeking a declaratory judgment that he is still the chairman despite arguments claiming his term has since expired. His critics say he is no longer the party’s chair because last month’s chaotic Idaho GOP convention failed to elect any new state officers.
“It is with great regret that we have had to take this legal action to enforce state party rules,” Peterson wrote in a news release.
Peterson filed the suit against party interim vice chair Mike Mathews and GOP national committeewoman Cindy Siddoway in Twin Falls 5th District Court. Six other Republicans filed with Peterson. Those include former 2nd Congressional District candidate Bryan Smith, LeeAnn Callear, Vicky Purdy, Todd Hatfield, Marla Lawson and John Cross.
Eagle attorney Christ Troupis, a tea party favorite, is representing the plaintiffs.
Political infighting has plagued the Idaho GOP as far-right conservatives maintain Peterson is still the party’s leader. Establishment Republicans, however, argue that Peterson’s term has expired and he no longer holds any authority over the party.
Mathews and Siddoway were among 20 members of the Idaho central committee who called for a special meeting on Aug. 2 in Boise. The meeting, which has the backing of the Republican National Committee, is scheduled to elect new state party officers.
Meanwhile, Peterson says the lawsuit is necessary because Gov. Butch Otter had yet to resolve the issue, even though Otter has previously endorsed the Aug. 2 meeting.
According to the lawsuit, the plaintiffs are also seeking to restrain Mathews and Siddoway – along with all other possible participants – from convening the Aug. 2 meeting.
“The power of the governor’s office reaches every nook and cranny of the state’s political realm,” Peterson wrote. “Yet, the Republican Party is self-governing and has over the years established rules to operate under. When some feel they are not bound by the rules, does that mean that power makes right and we can set the rules aside? For some it does. But I believe for the majority it is still important to operate within the Rules.”