BOISE – The Idaho Republican Party and Chairman Tom Luna have filed a lawsuit accusing the Bonneville County Republican Central Committee of making illegal endorsements in the Republican primary and demanding the committee stop making recommendations.
The eight-page lawsuit filed late Thursday in Fourth District Court in Ada County also contends the central committee is masquerading as the Idaho Republican Party in endorsing a slate of far-right candidates and confusing the state’s 400,000 registered Republicans.
The central committee’s “illegal conduct therefore not only fundamentally undermines the electoral process – it ultimately risks reducing the quality and effectiveness of government,” the lawsuit states.
The central committee put out a sample ballot with large print across the top saying “The OFFICIAL Republican Party.” The words “Bonneville County Republican Party” appear much smaller at the bottom.
Among the sample ballot picks are Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin over incumbent Gov. Brad Little, former U.S. Rep. Raul Labrador over incumbent Attorney General Lawrence Wasden, and Bryan Smith over incumbent U.S. Rep. Mike Simpson. The committee has also made donations to candidates.
Smith, a member of the central committee, is named in the lawsuit.
Luna in a statement said he filed the lawsuit to stop the central committee from “engaging in misleading campaign activities.”
The lawsuit said the central committee is making the endorsements in violation of its bylaws that require it to remain neutral in Republican primaries. The lawsuit states that Idaho election law makes the Idaho GOP rules binding on the central committee.
“One of my responsibilities as Chairman of the Idaho Republican Party is to defend the party and its brand, and I intend to do just that,” Luna said. “Either the Republican Party is the party of law and order or we’re not.”
Bonneville County Republican Central Committee chairman Mark Fuller, also named in the lawsuit, didn’t immediately return a phone message from the Associated Press.
Luna before the lawsuit criticized the central committee for the sample ballot. The central committee on its Facebook page on Wednesday dismissed those concerns.
“The Bonneville County Republican party stands behind the hard work of our volunteers, our candidate recommendations, and the publications that we have sent out,” the group wrote.
The Republican primary is Tuesday, but early in-person and mail-in voting are ongoing.
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