Who's in charge of the Idaho GOP? It depends who you ask

BOISE -- Fighting and fallout continue after the state Republican convention ended a week ago. The party failed to vote on any platform issues or elect a party chairman. After a week of conflicting meetings, legal opinions, and press releases, it still remains unclear who's in charge.

On Friday afternoon, the Idaho Republican Party sent an email declaring, The Idaho GOP Convention Re-elected Barry Peterson as Chairman of the Idaho Republican Party .

When KTVB visited the party office in Boise, Peterson and the only office employee were there. He said he remains chairman, and any effort to say otherwise is a continued effort by establishment Republicans to continue attacking.

Wednesday executive committee meeting: There is no chairman

A meeting on Wednesday night with the executive committee determined all former officers except Peterson would be appointed to continue serving. According to attorney Jason Risch's opinion of the rules, as well as the Republican National Committee's attorney, a chairman was not elected and couldn't be until a central committee vote.

Risch wrote to the committee: I applaud the committee for its hard work addressing this difficult task and their neutrality in appointing individuals from both perceived sides of the factions within the party. This is a big step toward unifying the party, once a Chairman is elected by the State Central Committee hopefully we can move forward in a constructive manner.

Thursday rules committee meeting: Peterson is chairman

The Republican news release sent Thursday, with Peterson listed as the contact, said the Wednesday meeting was not a duly called and legitimate meeting because the chairman didn't call it and there wasn't proper notice. The release called that meeting's decisions null and void .

Peterson says a rules committee meeting Thursday night set him as chair and retained the other officers. The committee decided that when the convention adjourned on Saturday, the vote to end the convention included leaving all platform measures and executive officers in place.

It was clearly understood that we were voting with the adjournment to effectively vote in the existing slate of officers for a second term. And with that reasoning that they were voted in for a two year term by the body of delegates at the convention, rules committee member John Menough said Tuesday night.

Disagreement remains within the party about chairman's position

Other Republicans say that meeting wasn't legally convened or valid, so that committee has no authority. Just as some accused him of doing at the convention, those who disagree with Peterson say he manufactured that committee with tea party supporters in order to retain his power.

Rules committee member Grant Loebs says the committee convened Thursday night was not made up of the same members as the previous rules committee, and he doesn't know what happened to those members. Loebs says it was obvious Peterson brought in people who would vote in his favor, which he says is proving Peterson is stacking votes.

I think there's no doubt about that. No doubt whatsoever. The convention showed that, the credentials committee at the convention showed that. The attempt to kick out delegates that were not favorable to him so that the election would be determined by their absence showed that. Last night's committee and the disbanding of the previous committee without any notice or cause showed that. I think there's no doubt, Loebs said.

Loebs believes Peterson's term either ended at the close of the convention or will end on June 23, which marks exactly two years since Peterson was elected at the previous convention.

Idaho GOP office gets new locks, executive director is gone

During KTVB's visit to the party office, we confirmed the executive director is no longer working in the office. Peterson said the former executive director left to pursue a graduate degree, which was planned before the convention. The former executive director did not return KTVB's phone message.

The locks were also changed on the party office doors, which some people have called suspicious or strange. Peterson said the lock change was simply for security because they had no idea who has keys right now. As for what's going on in the office, Loebs could only speculate.

I don't know what he's doing there. I don't know that there's any mischief to be done by changing the locks because I don't think anybody was trying to get in, so I don't know the purpose behind that, Loebs said. A symbolic statement he's making by changing the locks to assert that he's still in charge? I don't know.

Unity is still the Republican message, despite days of squabbling

Peterson and staff said their message is one of coming together, though they declined to say anything on camera. Loebs said it is entirely possible to move past these disagreements. He said ultimately, all of the recent decisions will be meaningless once a state central committee meeting is held for elections.

The central committee can very well decide that what Mr. Peterson does is right, and he is re-elected and he is chairman again. And if that happens, I'll shake his hand and say 'congratulations on your reelection'. At the moment, there isn't any reason to shake his hand because he hasn't been elected, Loebs said.'

A petition signed by central committee members, including Loebs, calls for a meeting on August 2 for the purpose of officer elections. Peterson said he, as chairman, needs to review the petition and set a meeting within 30 days. Peterson also said while there are conflicting attorney opinions about the rules, there is no official attorney for the party office and both sides should be and were considered for debate.


To find out more about Facebook commenting please read the
Conversation Guidelines and FAQs

Leave a Comment