Utah GOP drops suit over election law, upsets some members

November 4, 2017

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — The Utah Republican Party chairman’s decision to drop a lawsuit over the primary process has some members saying they may seek his ouster.

Chairman Rob Anderson announced Wednesday that the party would end its challenge of a state law that allows candidates to bypass the traditional nominating process for a primary election.

In response, some members of the party’s 180-member State Central Committee said they are considering a push for his removal during its Saturday meeting in Park City.

The committee’s last vote on the matter ordered the lawsuit to continue, and committee member Don Guymon told the Salt Lake Tribune that only the panel has the authority to end it.

“The State Central Committee is the governing body of the party, and we will make decisions regarding the lawsuit,” Guymon said. “We will hold the chairman accountable if he ends this lawsuit.”

The party’s top four officers met with the budget committee and voted Wednesday to end the suit. Anderson said the action was permitted because party bylaws allow them to “take any and all actions necessary to make sure that the party does not have a deficit situation longer than six months.”

The lawsuit is pending in a federal appeals court after the state GOP lost in lower courts. Anderson said the suit has created a deficit that has lasted three years, and the party also has $323,000 in unpaid legal bills.

A group of party members who have formed a nonprofit called Grassroots Republic announced Friday that they had secured money to pay the court costs.

Grassroots Republic said in a statement that it has raised thousands of dollars and that Dave Bateman, CEO of tech company Entrata and a Republican, has offered to pick up the rest of the cost.

Group spokesman Phill Wright did not have details about how much money it has raised but said the funds will allow the party to press its case and protect its nominating system.

The GOP chairman said the fundraising won’t change the decision to end the lawsuit and that attorney bills are not the only way the lawsuit is costing the party money. GOP donors who disagree with the lawsuit have refused to donate to the party until the legal fight is over, Anderson said.

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