At last night’s meeting, the Utah County Republican Party Executive Committee refused to hear a formal complaint filed by Party Chair Taylor Oldroyd against three Party officers/delegates who sued the Party last year. The lawsuit in question alleged that the State and County Parties have failed to follow their own rules regarding delegate allocation.
As soon as the hearing began, Legislative District 58 Chair, Dave Duncan, moved to dismiss the complaint on procedural grounds (proper notice had apparently not been given, and the complainant had changed the contents of the complaint without notification). Legislative District 27 Chair, DeLaina Tonks, amended the dismissal request to instead “postpone indefinitely” the complaint, a parliamentary motion which essentially kills an agenda item.
Tonks reminded members that the purpose of the County Party is to move forward the mission and vision of the Republican Party, and that this task is not being accomplished by wrestling with this complaint. “Let’s move on,” she said. Several committee members concurred, stating that while suing the Party is an inappropriate remedy, the Party has bigger and more important issues it needs to tackle on county, state, and nation-wide levels. Amen. (It is hard to overlook the fact that those who spoke most eloquently about Party unity are those who are running for Party office this spring . . . let the campaigning begin . . .).
The vote was 13 in favor of postponing indefinitely, 8 against. By “postponing indefinitely”, the committee is neither asserting guilt nor innocence on the issue, but making a statement that it would be beneficial to bypass this issue and move on.
In his complaint, the UCRP Chair claimed that by suing the Party the defendants violated “their obligations and responsibilities as members of the UCRP” and displayed a “wanton disregard for Party operations, policies, and procedures”. The Chair had previously submitted to the committee a written recommendation that those named in the complaint should be removed from their Party positions and barred from attend any public Party function for two years.
The accused UCRP officers/delegates (Lowell Nelson, Ben Smith and Steve Diamond) joined six others in filing suit against the State and County Republican Parties in March of 2010. The trio maintain that they exhausted all avenues within the Party for settling their concerns regarding the Party’s allocation of delegates, were stymied in their efforts, and that a suit was the only remedy left. The suit requests that the Party cease skimming ex-officio (or “automatic”) delegate spots off the top of the delegate allocation (these delegate spots are then distributed to Party officers and elected officials), and instead allocate all delegate spots for election in precinct caucuses. The plaintiffs maintain that the use of ex-officio delegates is not supported by the State Party Constitution. The lawsuit has languished in court.
After the meeting, Smith said, “I am very pleased with the decision of the Executive Committee to dispose of the charges against us tonight but I do have mixed emotions. I regret that we were not able to give our defense arguments and rationale publicly.”
In an effort to promote transparency, the Committee voted to maintain an open meeting rather than retreat into an executive session. Additionally, the committee voted to record the meeting and post the recording on UCRP website. (I will post a link when it is available).
This spectator was shocked by the outcome of this meeting; I arrived dreading a metaphorical execution, but was delighted to witness a kinder, gentler Party meeting than we are used to seeing. I’m liking it. Let’s grab that momentum and move forward to promote the values and principles outlined in our Party Platform.