Convention Day 1: What Rules?

Convention Day 1: What Rules?



Maybe they’re more like “guidelines”



By Brian Almon


Day one of the Idaho GOP State Convention is in the books. Delegates, alternates, and guests checked in at the Coeur d’Alene Resort throughout the day, creating a festive atmosphere as Republicans from across the state came together for the biennial event.


The state executive committee got down to business first, holding their regular meeting. Each officer shared an update, save 1st Vice Chair Daniel Silver and National Committeewoman Cindy Siddoway who were absent. Each of the new region chairs introduced themselves as well. There was a bit of a kerfuffle regarding Region X, which organized itself despite a party rule that appeared to leave such reorganization in the hands of the state chair. Dorothy Moon shut down new Region VIII chair Trent Clark when he tried to have the agenda show that the reorganization was complete and Andrew Mickelsen had been duly elected.


2nd vice chair Mark Fuller had called the official meeting for this evening, and the result was the same. This tendency of some to ignore the rules has become a pattern in Idaho. Recall that the Bingham County Republican Central Committee ignored both the state party rules and Robert’s Rules of Order when they replaced outgoing chairman Dan Cravens last year. When Moon ruled that they needed to hold a new meeting (in which the outcome would have been the same) they unsuccessfully sued the state party rather than simply complying with the rules.


The State Central Committee recently put in place a rule that county committees owed dues for the operation of the state party. According to state treasurer Steve Bender, every county but one faithfully paid their dues for 2023, and half the counties have already paid up for 2024. The one that refused was none other than the Bingham County GOP, and according to the rule, their delegates were not seated for the convention.


Several organizations paid a fee to the Idaho GOP for the right to set up tables in the hall outside the conference rooms. The John Birch Society, the Heritage Foundation, Idaho 2nd Amendment Alliance, the Idaho Freedom Foundation, and several other groups manned tables with information and trinkets today. I’m told that officer candidates were told there was no additional room, yet Mary Souza, challenging Dorothy Moon for state chair, set one up in the corner anyway. She also displayed several standing signs heralding her commitment to conservative principles.


One wonders if there was some money leftover in the Gem State Conservatives account after they bankrolled PC races throughout the state last month.


I get the sense that some folks are deliberately breaking the rules and daring the party to chastise them. It’s as if they want to play the victim and portray Dorothy Moon as a bully for daring to enforce the rules. Moon called this out during her meeting report this morning, asking why it is so hard to follow the rules.


Parliamentarian Chris Sacia, Chairwoman Dorothy Moon, and Secretary Maria Nate


Before delegates can be seated in the general session they must be approved by the Credentials Committee. That means that this committee’s meeting is often the site of fierce partisan battles over who gets to take part in the convention. Last year, Tracey Wasden unsuccessfully attempted to have the Canyon County delegation disqualified. This year, Travis Clyde of Ada County tried something similar. He cosigned a letter along with Margaret Jensen, Tianna Abel, Reece Hrizuk, Mike Luna, Ben Fuhriman, Mary Alice Telford, Tom Bokowy, Steve Cory, and Ashley Brittain calling into question the delegate selection processes in Ada, Washington, Bannock, Bonner, Payette, and Oneida Counties as well as calling for the Bingham delegation to be seated.


Even though Credentials Committee chairman Bryan Smith only received the 26 page complaint at 9:20 this morning, he agreed to present it to the committee. However, after Clyde had made his complaint and ACRCC chairman Thad Butterworth responded, delegate Priscilla Giddings moved to deem the complaint as out of order for having been received late. The committee agreed, and it was therefore dropped prior to finalizing the delegate report.


It was ironic that the Gem State Conservatives were seemingly attempting to disenfranchise a quarter of the state’s delegates after having urged their own delegates to sit on the Credentials Committee to ostensibly prevent such disenfranchisement from the other side.


The committee did strike three delegates, however. When the Gem County GOP reorganized last month, they apparently assumed that the newly elected state committeeman, state committeewoman, and state youth committeeperson were automatic delegates and therefore did not need to be voted on. They also limited alternates to two, despite having nine delegate slots. Former GCRCC chairman Forrest Tomlin, who was denied selection as a delegate or alternate, brought a complaint before the committee.


Rather than unseating the entire Gem County delegation, the committee removed the state committeeman, state committeewoman, and state youth committeeperson, since the GCRCC had never actually voted on their status as delegates. However, they declined to penalize the rest of the delegation, and the two alternates were elevated to replace the three unseated delegates.


One final incident occurred on Thursday with regards to following the rules. The slate of conservative officer candidates hosted a “campfire” event at City Park just outside the resort. Propane tanks were set up with emitters to allow us to toast marshmallows for s’mores. Several small children did so without incident, and with parental supervision, but during Moon’s speech, two Coeur d’Alene police officers arrived and informed the crowd that there were no open flames allowed.


Several state party officers protested, pointing out that they had cleared this with the city’s parks and recreation department beforehand, but the officers were not having it. So the fires were put out and the remaining marshmallows remained untoasted. In the end, the rules were followed.


Rules are rules, and we have to follow them whether we like it or not. Sometimes there are good reasons to defy unjust or immoral laws, but to ignore state party bylaws and then complain when the chair calls you out is silly and pointless. Rules of order, party bylaws, and state laws are meant to create a level playing field that allows the majority to dictate events while protecting the right of the minority to be heard. Ignoring the rules shows tremendous disrespect for everyone involved. For all their complaining, for all their accusations that Dorothy Moon is some sort of tyrant or dictator, the Gem State Conservatives seem to think the rules don’t apply to them.


Join me tomorrow for more committees and the first general session of the convention. Hopefully everyone follows the rules from here on out.


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