‘Purity tests and bullying’: Division within Idaho GOP continues
(Idaho Capital Sun) The fallout from the Republican Party’s intra-party dispute continued this week as the members of at least two GOP county central committees say Idaho Republican Party Chairwoman Dorothy Moon and other statewide leaders are dividing the party.
Division has been growing within the Republican Party for a while but started to intensify this year following the Idaho Republican Party’s summer meeting in Challis in June.
The intensity of the division is ratcheting up again.
In eastern Idaho, the Bingham County Republican Central Committee filed a lawsuit against the Idaho Republican Party last month to block Moon from stepping in to hold an election to fill county leadership positions.
In western Idaho, six officials with the Ada County Republican Central Committee resigned en masse on Oct. 5 after alleging bullying tactics by state party leaders and expressing concern with the direction of the party.
Moon and the Idaho Republican Party issued a written statement Monday denying the allegations from Ada County and asserting that the GOP is as strong and energized as ever in Idaho.
Judge blocks Moon from electing new Bingham County leaders until full appeal is heard by party executive committee
The latest developments in the GOP divide occurred Tuesday, when Seventh District Judge Darren B. Simpson issued an order barring Moon and the Idaho Republican Party from calling a special meeting to elect a new chairperson of the Bingham County Republican Central Committee until the central committee’s appeal over Moon’s decision to invalidate the June 20 Bingham County Republican Central Committee meeting where Matt Thompson was elected the chairman has run its full course under Idaho Republican Party rules.
Thompson filed the Bingham County Republican Central Committee’s appeal with the executive committee of the Idaho Republican Party. But the Bingham County Republican Central Committee filed the lawsuit in District Court in Bingham County after Moon signaled she would move forward with a special election after the appeal was filed.
“For these reasons, the (Bingham County Republican Central Committee) has shown that it has a clear right to appeal Chairwoman Moon’s decision to void the BCRCC’s chairman election,” Simpson wrote in Tuesday’s order. “The (Bingham County Republican Central Committee) has also shown that it will suffer irreparable harm if its appeal is ignored.”
Simpson also wrote that Moon’s own conduct underscored the Bingham County Republican Central Committee mistrust in Moon. Moon had at one point written that she planned to move forward with a special election to fill the Bingham County leadership vacancies on Sept. 18 even though Moon had already received notification that her decision was being appealed.
“Regardless of whether or not Chairwoman Moon read the (Bingham County Republican Central Committee) appeal letter, she received it on September 14, 2023 at 3:20 p.m., and had notice thereof from an Executive Committee member … as early as 10:12 a.m.,” Simpson wrote. “Her declaration to hold the September 18 special meeting, despite her actual and constructive knowledge of the (Bingham County Republican Central Committee’s) appeal, rebuts her later-stated intention to avoid any action until the Executive Committee processed the (Bingham County Republican Central Committee’s) appeal.”
Simpson wrote “…the prior course of conduct by Chairwoman Moon underscores the (Bingham County Republican Central Committee’s) mistrust of Chairwoman Moon.”
Ada County Republican leaders resign en masse
The Ada County Republican Central Committee members who resigned were former Chairman Victor Miler, former First Vice Chair Megan Reichle, former Second Vice Chair Travis Clyde, former Third Vice Chair Barrett Tetlow, former Treasurer Dave Lister and former State Committeewoman Kim Wickstrum.
When they announced their resignations, the Ada County Republicans listed five reasons that they said the statewide leaders of the Idaho Republican Party makes it impossible for them to lead in Ada County.
They listed as one reason that the state party passed a rule that creates a waiting period of two years or more before voters who switch their affiliation from one political party to another can vote in a Republican primary election in Idaho. The former Ada County Republican Central Committee officials called the rule a “purity test” that will inhibit the growth of the Republican Party in Idaho.
The Ada County Republicans also took issue with tribunals that the Idaho Republican Party can use to censure candidates and strip them of state support. They also cited the assessment of party dues by the state and what they alleged are bullying tactics by statewide party leaders.
“The energy of the party is more about infighting than collaboration – more about beating each other than beating Democrats,” the former Ada County Republican Central Committee officers wrote in their letter of resignation. “We can no longer support this system. We hope that when the State GOP’s intentions and tactics are fully brought to light, the ship can be ‘righted’ to include all Republicans and to return power to the voters and the counties.”
Miller and Reichle could not be reached for comment.
Moon and Idaho Republican Party leaders reject accusations of bullying and divisive purity tests
In a written statement issued Monday, Moon and the Idaho Republican Party said they categorically denied the allegations from the former Ada County Republican officials.
“These accusations from the former officers are little more than projection and sour grapes from an old guard that is angry about losing their own power,” the Idaho Republican Party said in Monday’s written statement. “The Idaho Republican Party will continue fighting for faith, family, and freedom, and representing everyone who stands for Idaho values.”
The Idaho Republican Party said rules requiring voters who switch their party affiliation from another political party to the Idaho Republican Party to wait before voting in a Republican primary are designed to keep outsiders from infiltrating their ranks at the polls.
“Crossover voting is a real problem, as high-profile figures encourage Democrats to register as Republicans to change the outcomes of our primary elections,” the Idaho Republican Party wrote.
Moon and the statewide leaders of the Idaho Republican Party also rejected the accusations of bullying, saying there are thousands of volunteers serving the party, which is energized with more grassroots support than ever before.
“The only ‘bullying’ is coming from those who take to the pages of the mainstream media to attack fellow Republicans,” the Idaho Republican Party wrote in Monday’s written statement.
Idaho Republican Party officials referred the Idaho Capital Sun to Monday’s news release when the Sun requested an interview with Moon.