Bingham County GOP sues Idaho Republican Party
The Bingham County Republican Central Committee’s executive committee has filed a lawsuit against the Idaho Republican Party to block Idaho GOP Chairwoman Dorothy Moon from stepping in to fill county leadership vacancies.
The lawsuit appears to represent another example of the divide within the Republican Party between Moon and her allies in state leadership and the longtime establishment wing of the GOP.
On Thursday, the Bingham County Republican Central Committee’s executive committee filed the lawsuit in Seventh Judicial District Court in Bingham County. Then, on Friday, District Judge Darren B. Simpson granted a temporary restraining order blocking Moon from conducting her meeting to elect Bingham County Republican officers on Monday.
In the lawsuit, the Bingham County Republican Central Committee’s executive committee and Chairman Matt Thompson allege that Moon invalided the results of the Bingham County Republican Central Committee’s July 20 meeting where Thompson was elected chairman to replace outgoing chairman Dan Cravens, who announced he was resigning because he was moving out of state.
According to court records, Moon announced she would conduct a new meeting to elect county leaders on Monday, when several regular members of the Bingham County Republican Central Committee were known to be out of town.
Thompson filed an appeal of Moon’s decision on Sept. 14 with the Idaho GOP, but Moon declined to cancel Monday’s election meeting, according to the lawsuit.
In the suit, the Bingham County Republican Central Committee’s executive committee alleges that Moon broke party rules by not allowing the appeal to be heard.
“Chairwoman Moon talks about upholding the rules, but she’s breaking the rules by not allowing us to appeal,” Thompson said in a written statement.
In a written statement released late Monday afternoon, Moon denied the allegations from the lawsuit. Moon said she received a complaint regarding a possible illegitimate election in Bingham County, investigated and ruled the election must be re-done.
Moon said she called the meeting for Monday to elect new officers in Bingham County, but was not going to vote.
“I am obligated by our rules to call the meeting to correct the fact that under our rules, Bingham County does not have a legitimately elected chairman,” Moon said in the written statement. “It is notable that this new meeting would be among the same members that held the illegitimate meeting and the likely outcome would be the same.”
Bingham County committee says GOP chairwoman’s actions are part of larger pattern
The Bingham County Republican Central Committee also alleges Moon’s actions were part of a larger pattern of pushing out Republicans who do not agree with her.
A witness declaration from Power County Republican precinct committee officer Laura Anderson included in the lawsuit alleges that Moon used similar tactics in Power County. According to court records, Moon allegedly invalidated Power County Republican Central Committee leadership elections from December, and then Moon stepped into conduct her own county elections where a different official who is “far more sympathetic to Chairman Moon than the person whose December election had been declared void” was elected.
“This is a continuation of a systematic conspiracy by Moon and her allies in the party to declare void the elections of persons with whom they don’t agree and re-vote under circumstances carefully manipulated and choreographed to elect persons sympathetic to Moon and her aims,” the Bingham County Republican Central Committee lawsuit states.
Boise State Public Radio reported on the Bingham County lawsuit Friday.
Ben Fuhriman, the Bingham County Republican Central Committee’s state committee officer, said Bingham County Republicans are frustrated because they would rather work with the party at the state level than fight it with a lawsuit to preserve the county’s ability to conduct its own elections.
“We didn’t want to do this,” Fuhriman said in a telephone interview. “We’re trying to follow the rules to the best of our ability, but we had to go to the courts to stop this meeting from happening.”
In his order granting the temporary restraining order, Simpson scheduled a hearing on the complaint for Sept. 28 in Seventh District Court.
“Our hope is the state will start acting like leaders and not bullies — that they would work with us with the election we had rather than try to control the central committee and have the election that they want,” Fuhriman said.
Republican central committee positions help shape direction of the party
The seats on the Bingham County Republican Central Committee are important politically for several reasons. Each of three positions filled during the June meeting that Moon invalidated sit on the Idaho Republican Party’s State Central Committee, where they help shape the direction of the party. Additionally, the Bingham County Republican Central Committee is responsible for providing the list of names to fill the vacant Bingham County prosecuting attorney position following the Sept. 1 resignation of Bingham County Prosecutor Paul Rogers.
Earlier this year, several longtime Republicans spoke out saying Moon and her allies have driven a wedge in the Republican Party by purging people from the party who do not agree with her.
In a series of articles reported by the Idaho Capital Sun, several Republicans said Moon and her allies have divided the party by stripping the Federation of Republican Women, Idaho Young Republicans and Idaho College Republicans of their voting power with the Idaho GOP’s state central committee. Republicans also cited the party’s planned move to a presidential nominating caucus and a new rule forcing voters who switch parties to wait two years or more before voting in a Republican primary election as issues that have divided the party.
During a press conference endorsing an open primary ballot initiative last week, former Idaho first lady Lori Otter, a Republican, called out Moon by name and urged women and young people in the Republican Party to take the party back.
“If you don’t pay attention to what’s happening to this party, this party is going to lose its power of everything that the Republican Party stands for,” Otter said Tuesday.