Finally: GOP's Barry Peterson sues in dispute over control of party

Posted by Dan Popkey on July 17, 2014 

Idaho Republican Chairman Barry Peterson, left, tried to convince Gov. Butch Otter to endorse his candidacy for a second term on May 21, the day after the GOP primary. Otter declined. Now, Peterson is suing to block a meeting called by Otter loyalists to elect a chairman.

DARIN OSWALD — doswald@idahostatesman.com Buy Photo

Blaming Gov. Otter, Peterson seeks to stop Aug. 2 Central Committee meeting

A dispute that's dragged on since the Idaho Republican Convention adjourned June 14 without electing officers may finally be resolved in court.

On Thursday, Idaho Republican Chairman Barry Peterson and six members of the Executive Committee sued to block an Aug. 2 meeting of the State Central Committee that Republicans loyal to Gov. Butch Otter called to elect officers. To read the 20-page complaint filed by former attorney general candidate Chris Troupis, click here.

"It is with great regret that we have had to take this legal action to enforce State Party Rules," Peterson and the others said in a news release. "Since June 12, 2014, much effort has been put forth to sit down with Governor Otter to resolve this issue. With no response from the Governor, this action is necessary to uphold the integrity of the Party and the Party Rules."

The lawsuit was filed in Fifth District Court in Twin Falls against Vice Chairman Mike Mathews and Republican National Committeewoman Cindy Siddoway. Shortly after the convention adjourned without acting, Siddoway was among 20 members of the Central Committee who called for the special meeting in Boise.

The other plaintiffs include two losing GOP primary candidates — 2nd District Congress hopeful Bryan Smith and controller candidate Todd Hatfield — along with LeeAnn Callear, Viki Purdy, Marla Lawson and John Cross.

Gov. Otter has endorsed the Aug. 2 meeting, but Peterson has called for the Central Committee to meet Aug. 9, though he hasn't yet designated a time or place.

Jason Risch, the party's general counsel, sides with the Otter forces and says Peterson is no longer chairman. The general counsel for the Republican National Committee agrees and has recognized the Aug. 2 date. The RNC's summer meeting is in Chicago Aug. 6-9.

Peterson declined comment beyond the news release in a brief phone call.

Risch and Otter's campaign manager, Jayson Ronk, did not immediately reply to a request for comment Thursday afternoon.

The news release follows (note: the lawsuit's spelling of Viki Purdy is correct)

Suit filed to Enjoin unauthorized call of Central Committee Meeting for August 2, 2014 in violation of State Party Rules

TWIN FALLS, ID -- Today, State Chairman, Barry Peterson, and six members of the Idaho Republican Party Executive Committee, LeeAnn Callear, Vicky Purdy, Bryan Smith, Todd Hatfield, Marla Lawson and John Cross, filed a lawsuit in the District Court in Twin Falls against Mike Mathews and Cindy Siddoway, the two party members who illegally issued a call for a special meeting of the State Central Committee while unilaterally declaring that all state party offices were vacant.

"It is with great regret that we have had to take this legal action to enforce State Party Rules. Since June 12, 2014, much effort has been put forth to sit down with Governor Otter to resolve this issue. With no response from the Governor, this action is necessary to uphold the integrity of the Party and the Party Rules."

"The power of the Governor's office reaches every nook and cranny of the state's political realm. Yet, the Republican Party is self-governing and has over the years established Rules to operate under. When some feel they are not bound by the Rules, does that mean that power makes right and we can set the Rules aside? For some it does. But I believe for the majority it is still important to operate within the Rules."

"With communication and cooperation, a reasonable solution to this issue can be found. Contrary to some opinions, this dispute is not because I wish to remain Chairman. The objective is to work with and respect the Rules of the Party. With the support of the Governor, we can find an answer."

 

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