BOISE Following the failed state GOP Convention in Moscow on Saturday, questions still remain about what prompted the eventual meltdown. Infighting prevented the delegates from voting on any party platform issues or electing a new chairman. Late Tuesday, attorneys for the state and national party offices determined the party is currently without leadership.

Some establishment Republicans say the problem at the convention was suspicion that committees were stacked with tea party delegates from smaller counties. Some on the tea party side say the establishment Republicans planned to derail the convention before even arriving in Moscow.

On Tuesday, now former Idaho GOP Party Chairman Barry Peterson sat down with KTVB to offer his take on the convention and its issues. His focus is on unity, and while he talked off-camera about some of the allegations of stacking, he didn t want to elaborate much once the camera was rolling.

Chairman: 'Nobody has seen a convention go as our convention went'

Peterson says he was caught off-guard when the convention began to unravel on Saturday morning. He said guest speakers Senator Rand Paul and Governor Mike Huckabee got the weekend off to a good start, but they couldn't maintain a good momentum.

When we put that agenda together, it was my hope that that darn thing would be a unifying event. In spite of the various functions and facets and arguments that were coming into it, Peterson said. 'We thought we were going to have a lot of fun. Some measure we did, but the tension was greater than the fun.

Peterson is one who believes failure was planned in advance by establishment Republicans. He says the procedural moves made were to stall the convention to failure.

What happened in the general assembly did not just happen spontaneously. That had to be planned long in advance of the convention to tie up over four hours in parliamentary procedures so the delegates could never get to a vote on the issue. That had to be by plan. I never anticipated that myself, Peterson said.

Outgoing Superintendent Luna: Chairman wouldn't explain reasoning

On Monday, outgoing Republican Superintendent Tom Luna told KTVB he believes the convention fell apart when the chairman wouldn't explain how people were placed on committees, with the appearance being the committees were stacked.

Some believed delegates weren't properly seated at the county level, particularly in Bannock and Ada Counties; others believed that impacted committee assignments or that committees didn't have enough representation from large counties or had too much tea party representation. As fighting escalated on Saturday, Luna called for an answer from the chairman.

I expected him to do so. I thought his answer would probably be adequate, and we could move forward. So I was very surprised when the chair refused to address the convention as a whole and explain the process he used to make those committee assignments, Luna said. I think that's the point where everybody thought, this is not going anywhere and is probably not going to end well.

Former chairman says committee numbers were fair, won't talk party make-up

When it comes to numbers and representation by county, Peterson says a broad number of counties were represented. KTVB asked, Were the committees stacked? , since some Republicans say that answer could have saved the convention.

The committees each had 35 to 45 members on them. Each committee represented more than half of the counties in the state. And the delegates came from far and wide, and so I would not say they were stacked, Peterson responded.

Of allegations that he or other leaders intentionally put more tea party members on committees, Peterson said he couldn't know the affiliation of every delegate and called it arbitrary, not stacked . When asked about specific intent to drive committee resolutions to the far right, he said he was done talking.

Peterson: 'I hope we find our way'

After more discussion, Peterson agreed to sit down and keep answering questions about the party moving ahead, saying I'm just trying to keep from driving a wedge.

There are events taking place, even now, to try to get us, in my opinion, to be in harmony with one another, or at least get to a point where unity is a two way street and both of us are willing to come toward each other, Peterson said.

Peterson believes the party will unite by having citizens participate in state politics. He also says he can't understand why there is a divide.

In fact, I don't know what the issue is that keeps us apart. Today, I don't know what that issue is, Peterson said. Like are we talking about wolves? Are we talking about God? Are we talking about the health exchange? Are we talking about some future movement like the management of public lands in Idaho? The things that are past us are behind us. The issues that are in front of us now, I don't know what the issue is that divides us from each other. It seems to me we all ought a be focused going in the same direction. I don't know what their side feels like that issue is, but I don't understand what it is.

RNC and Idaho Republican Party: There is no chairman, elections to be held in August

Late Tuesday night, state Republican officials sent KTVB documentation showing attorneys had issued legal opinions to the Republican National Committee and Idaho Republican Party interpreting rules as meaning Peterson is no longer chairman since no election happened at convention.

Central Committee members signed a call for a special meeting to elect a new chairman, first vice chairman, second vice chairman, secretary and treasurer in August.

The state party's attorney said there is an executive committee meeting planned for Wednesday to discuss vacancies. By the party's rules, that committee could fill all of the offices except chairman, which must be elected by the state central committee.

RNC attorney letter to national chairman

Chairman Priebus,

As you are aware, the Idaho Republican State Convention did not hold elections for the Idaho Republican Party officers this past weekend, despite a requirement in the Rules of the Idaho Republican Party that it do so. In particular, there was no election for Chairman of the Republican State Central Committee, which is of direct pertinence to the RNC because each Republican state party chairman is a member of the RNC under Rule No. 3(b) of The Rules of the Republican Party.

It is my responsibility to advise you that in my opinion there is a vacancy in Idaho s RNC delegation because the state party chairman position is vacant. Having reviewed relevant documents, in addition to the well-reasoned opinion of counsel Jason Risch, I am of the opinion that the chairman s term ended at the state convention, there is currently a vacancy, and the State Central Committee has the authority to fill the vacancy. If the vacancy is not filled prior to the RNC Summer Meeting, there will be only two members from Idaho eligible to take part in that meeting. You may wish to inform Cindy Siddoway, Damond Watkins and particularly Barry Peterson that for RNC purposes, the state chairmanship will be deemed vacant until it is filled in accordance with state party rules. Please let me know if you would like to discuss this further.

John R. Phillippe Jr.
Chief Counsel
Republican National Committee

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