Hari Heath: Integrity matters to Idaho Republicans, who stand firm

July 14, 2014 

It was an interesting time at the state GOP convention. If we watch the news or read the papers, we might believe that the Republican Party is in major disarray. In the short term this is partly true. We might also be led to believe that a minority disrupted the convention. There is some truth to this also. As one of Benewah County's delegates, I was able to witness the events directly.

The motto for this year's convention was "Freedom and Unity." Some say the convention was a failure because the only official business accomplished was the unseating of Bannock County's delegates. Several counties engaged in delegate selection procedures that were unethical and against party rules, Ada County chief among them.

Swapping agendas in the middle of a meeting without the required vote, providing a single list of preselected delegates to be voted for or against, and preventing any other delegate nominations from the floor were primary issues in the complaint against Ada County. The misconduct in the delegate selection process was challenged in the Credentials Committee, which, after a lengthy debate, voted to unseat three counties, including Ada County, which would prevent them from voting and participating at the convention.

The final day of the convention was an interesting education in the parliamentary process. The unseated delegations disrupted the convention with four hours of procedural trickery to prevent one vote - the vote to unseat them. Ultimately, they stalled long enough and separated the vote to each unseated county so that the vote to unseat Ada County was prevented by a motion for adjournment.

"Freedom and Unity" is still a good theme for this year's convention. The Republican body as a whole stood firm, through a grueling four hours, against the entrenched elite who are accustomed to dirty politics to get their way.

We sent a clear message that integrity matters and we will no longer allow an elite few to conduct corrupt business as usual. The Republican Party belongs to every Republican equally. The media will spin the story with claims of tea party, ultra-right and libertarian stick-poking, but I was there.

The real contest was between those who made it to the convention by county reorganization trickery and the Republican body as a whole. A broad spectrum of Republicans stood firm. If the unseated delegations represented the majority, they would not have spent four hours trying to prevent one vote. These are the growing pains of a revitalized party worthy of the public's participation.

The Otters, Clarks, Rischs and Loebs of the elite have lost the heart and soul of the Republican Party because corruption and cronyism is no longer acceptable. The assembled body of the Republican people has spoken. Integrity matters. Freedom and unity did prevail.

Hari Heath lives in Santa, Idaho.

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