Students of the dispute over who runs the Idaho Republican Party have a new trove of archival evidence to claw through — thanks to Idaho Public TV's decision to throw open their vault to the public.
The state-owned network released about an hour of video Friday, explaining the decision in a blog post by Idaho Reports co-host Melissa Davlin. Davlin and producer Seth Ogilvie also introduce the video in a brief studio chat.
Embattled Chairman Barry Peterson's lawsuit against Vice Chairman Mike Mathews and National Committeewoman Cindy Siddoway is before 5th District Judge Randy Stoker. Peterson and five others seek to bar the State Central Committee from meeting Aug. 2 to elect officers.
While the tape is only a fragment of a 6-hour day, it's a worthwhile narrative of what went wrong.
Davlin and Ogilvie, who covered the convention at the University of Idaho Kibbie Dome in Moscow, said they released every moment of their video in response to multiple requests.
But they admit they don't have the money shot.
"Let's be real," says Davlin in the opener. "We know exactly what your looking for...the last few motions to adjourn without electing the chairman and we don't have the one motion that you're looking for on tape."
Instead of staying focused on the rostrum as he did for most of the time, Ogilvie followed Ada County delegates who were conducting a walkout in protest of a vote to unseat the Bannock County delegation. Ada County would likely have suffered the same fate.
"What we can give you is what we have," Davlin says. "This is all we have. It's unedited. And so, we hope you find something there."
Here's the video. Below, you'll find my guide to the action. I hope it helps make sense of the unedited tape. I've also provided time marks.
2:07: Chairman Peterson congratulates Convention Chairman and Congressman Raul Labrador on his just-announced bid for U.S. House Majority Leader. Labrador receives a standing ovation.
3:25: Marla Lawson calls the roll of delegates. Lawson is now a co-plaintiff with Peterson in the lawsuit.
4:35: Ada County GOP Chairman and former Rep. Fred Tilman paces during the roll call of over 500 delegates.
6:10: Long passage of points of order and reading of rules regarding whether the convention committees — most significantly the Credentials Committee — were properly constituted when they met June 13.
8:50: Rep. Lance Clow, R-Twin Falls, speaks from the floor.
9:40: Labrador: "This is getting fun."
10:30: Labrador: "The motion is to not consider the motion that was offered over here."
11:15: Delegates stand to be counted.
12:50: Motion to suspend rules and receive committee reports.
14:35: Labrador consults with Sen. Bart Davis, R-Idaho Falls, one of two parliamentarians. The other, to Davis' left, is Cornell Rasor.
14:50: Labrador rules several motions out of order.
15:50: Ron Nate of Rexburg, who unseated Rep. Douglas Hancey in the May 20 GOP primary, defends Peterson's selection of committee members. "They have done their work and that work should be respected," Nate says.
16:50: Delegate Ellen Bennett calls Nate "Ron Paul," providing a light moment. "You just won some votes and you lost some votes," Labrador jokes.
18:30: An unhappy delegate complains that the Credentials Committee has disenfranchised one-third of the delegates.
20:30: Citing Roberts Rules of Order, Labrador rules out of order a motion to block the committee reports, winning applause.
21:20: Labrador's ruling is appealed.
22:15: Labrador rules that all delegates, including those unseated by the Credentials Committee, may vote on the motion appealing his ruling. Some groan.
24:45: Labrador's ruling is upheld, 300-229.
25:50 Bingham County delegate Dan Cravens calls for striking the committee report and seating all the delegates who answered the morning roll call.
27:20: Davis parses Cravens' three-part motion.
28:35: A delegate says, "It's a confusing day here in Moscow for all of us, I suspect."
Davis rises to correct the man, providing a bit of comic relief: "Mos-COW is in Russia. Mos-COH is in Idaho."
31:50: Labrador blocks motion as untimely. "So at this time, it is out of order and I adjourn for lunch — recess, it's recess."
32:20: Mark Harris of Bear Lake County appeals another ruling by Chairman Labrador, who rules the motion out of order.
33:30: Two-term Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna, a Canyon County delegate, appeals for consensus.
"We have people from all across the state that have spent a lot of their time and money — they've left their businesses, their families," Luna says. "I think we're going to continue to have motion after motion until somebody explains to everyone why some counties did not get their proportional assignments to committees. That's the question.
"They just haven't been told how this happened. So, perhaps if that was explained we then could avoid this endless number of motions that I think we're going to continue to hear because the underlying question is that they don't agree with how the committees were appointed and why some counties weren't given their, by rule, allotment of seats on committees."
Many delegates applaud.
35:10: Boo birds voice disappointment at Chairman Peterson's declining to discuss his rationale on committee appointments.
"...The chairman does not feel, the chairman of the party does not want to explain that right now," Labrador says.
Labrador suggests the allowing the committees to report, clearing the way for a debate on the process and their work.
"Not Ada County!" shouts a delegate. "You're going to rule us out!"
"C'mon Barry," says another. "Explain yourself, Barry."
"Step up, Barry," says a third.
39:55: Former Idaho Libertarian Party Chairman Ryan Davidson of Garden City, now a leader of the libertarian wing in the GOP, questions why the convention is about to vote on a motion to proceed to hear the committee reports when the agenda calls for just that.
Replies Labrador: "We didn't need it until somebody made a motion."
Davidson suggests Bonneville County delegate John Jensen withdraw his motion. Jensen complies.
40:45: No, that's not Burl Ives! It's Credentials Committee Co-Chairman Chuck Reitz of Shoshone County, beginning the committee report.
Reitz says Ada County committed "numerous violations" in electing delegates and that his committee's rejection of the delegates is something that "should have been done many years ago." Restoring order to the party required the committee to "step on somebody's toes that wasn't following the rule."
Sen. Chuck Winder, R-Boise, the No. 3 Republican in the Senate, asks Reitz to iterate the violations "so we can actually hear what his opinion and the committee opinion was, versus what legal counsel has told us."
Reitz replies sharply: "I'll correct you right now, sir! It wasn't my opinion!"
43:45: Winder moves to reject the committee report for Bannock, Power and Ada counties only. Labrador rules that the disputed delegates may not vote on Winder's motion.
44:40: Sen. Jim Rice, R-Caldwell, on how the convention will vote on Winder's motion in three steps, taking each county separately.
45:35: Labrador says each aggrieved county will be allowed five minutes debate, not each delegate as some suggest.
47:55: A Bannock County delegates asks Reitz: "What were the procedural irregularities alleged with regard to Bannock County?"
Reitz reads the complaint filed by non-delegate Kevin Brown: Delegates were elected as a slate on a single vote; alternates were apportioned to spouses of delegates; nominations were closed even though the county's allocation wasn't filled; and eight aspiring delegates are ready to join the convention without displacing other delegates.
50:05: Reitz, a former member of the Constitution Party, is challenged for describing the committee's finding as "unanimous."
"Well, let me clarify unanimous, my definition of unanimous," Reitz said. "My definition of unanimous was that there were more people for than there were against."
As the catcalls fade, Labrador says, "I think he meant 'majority.'"
52:50: An aggrieved delegate shouts, "I'm going to ask for a roll call vote. If we're going to throw people out, you need to stand up and say it out loud."
53:00: At Davidson's urging, Labrador reiterates that contested delegations are not permitted to vote on whether to seat the Bannock delegation.
Davidson asks: "Does not the Credentials Committee get five minutes to respond to the Bannock County defense?"
Labrador, revealing his frustration: "They did. We've done that. Let's not delay this any more. Let's just move on."
55:00: Roll call is complete, Bannock County unseated.
55:45: Luna wins applause for saying, "If we are going to err, I ask that you err on the side of inclusion."
56:10: Bonneville delegate Jensen says, "There has to be consequences for not learning what the rules are. There's no excuse to not know what they are."
56:35: An unhappy delegate addresses Labrador and the convention, saying, "And we complain about gridlock in Congress?"
Labrador: "I was actually having more fun last week (in Congress), you know?"
Delegate: "I think we need to go home and start over. I move for adjournment."
57:15: Debbie Field, a former six-term Boise lawmaker and campaign manager for Gov. Butch Otter, offers an emotional coda. Field helped organize the May precinct committee campaigns that won clear control of the Ada County GOP for Otter loyalists.
"I have to tell you that I am disappointed because I came to participate, as well as all of our delegates did, everybody here did," says Field.
A force in the GOP since U.S. Sen. Jim McClure noticed her work on recovery efforts following the 1976 collapse of the Teton Dam, Field lamented the convention quitting without speeches from the three candidates for chairman — Peterson, Mike Duff of Blackfoot and Greg Sayer of Pocatello.
"I wanted to hear from all three of them and let the votes go where they may," Field says. "And then we go out supporting a leader and uniting the party. This is no way. You've actually taken away three counties' right to vote in this process. And it's just wrong."
59:00: Canyon County GOP Chairwoman Melinda Smyser, a former senator and now aide to U.S. Sen. Jim Risch, speaks about unity.
59:50: Ada County delegates walk out. With the Public TV camera trailing, the moment where Labrador tells the convention a vote to adjourn will keep Peterson and other officers in place until the next convention in 2016 is missed.
1:01:10: A triumphant delegate backing the unseating of delegates says citizens have been motivated to participate because of a "lack of integrity" among some in the party.
"We have finally sent a message to the Republican Party," he says. "It will not stand!"
1:01:50: Canyon County delegate Lee Rice, who got 28 percent of the vote in his May challenge to Sen. Todd Lakey of Nampa, congratulates the convention. "We finally had a credentials committee that actually stood their ground."
1:02:20: Sayer gets the last word, setting the record straight on backroom talks to resolve the dispute. One proposal had Sayer as vice chairman and retiring Sen. Russ Fulcher, R-Meridian, as chairman. Fulcher got 44 percent of the primary vote against Otter. Sayer says he — not Otter as some claimed — ultimately rejected the deal.
"Any discussions about what would be the makeup of the leadership of this party were in an an effort to get Ada County seated," Sayer says. "It was not Butch that made the decision, it was me."