Utah GOP food fight continues as a party committee attempts to nix rule changes intended to reign in dissident members

A Utah GOP committee is attempting to squash proposed changes to the party’s governing documents designed to reign in the behavior of some dissident members of the GOP State Central Committee, but Party Chair Rob Anderson says that group is overstepping their authority.

As UtahPolicy.com first reported last week, several possible changes to the Utah GOP convention were submitted ahead of this month’s Utah GOP convention. Those changes included term-limits for members of the SCC or an extreme measure allowing the convention to “vacate” the at-large members of the SCC if convention delegates approve it.

Clearly, those proposals came from rank and file Republican delegates who are tired of the antics of a small group of SCC members who have been calling special “emergency” meetings to push extreme changes to the party’s rules. 

Most recently, that group approved a change to the party’s bylaws to strip party membership from candidates in Utah’s 1st and 2nd CD who use the signature gathering route to get on the ballot to prompt another lawsuit against Utah’s dual-path to the primary ballot for candidates. That change was in defiance of state law and had several GOP candidates worried the party might have their ballot access revoked, leaving them to run as independents in November instead of under the Republican banner. In the end, Party Chairman Rob Anderson pointed out that the party cannot pass a law that violated state law, so the rule was not adopted. 

However, when the party’s Constitution & Bylaws Committee released the list of proposed changes to the constitution to be considered at the state convention, those anti-SCC proposals were nowhere to be found.

Anderson says the C&B committee exceeded their authority, so he put those proposals on the party’s call to convention anyway.

“My responsibility is to ensure the party runs equitably,” says Anderson. “When people step outside the lines or exceed their authority, my response is to step in and make sure everybody can participate.”

On page 11 of the Utah GOP’s call to convention, Anderson included a letter explaining his decision.

20180409 Anderson Letter

“All said proposals that were duly submitted are included for your review,” the letter reads. “Pursuant to our governing documents, all submissions were forwarded to the Constitution and Bylaw (C&B) Committee for review. Unfortunately, it has come to my attention that not all duly submitted proposals were submitted equally, and while all SCC proposals are being forwarded to the convention floor, many state delegate submissions were held back.

“To me, this is an effort to disenfranchise the voice of the delegates, and I do not condone this action,” Anderson’s letter continues. “This is your convention, and I respect and demand your right to be heard in this annual forum.”

Anderson says he even included a resolution alleging he has “engaged in a pattern of behavior in which he ignores the rules of the party” which orders him to work with the SCC.

“I’m forwarding all of the proposals to the delegates. It’s not my job to filter out anything,” he says.

The Utah GOP’s bylaws state the C&B committee is tasked with being the “guardian of the Party Constitution and Bylaws,” and is responsible for “making recommendations to the State Central Committee for changes as the need arises.”

Anderson argues the committee overstepped that authority by vetting the proposals instead of just reviewing whether they conflict with state law or the party’s governing documents.

“Their job is to look at the conflicts, not determine which proposals go to the floor at the convention,” says Anderson.

Already, Anderson’s decision is generating blowback among some of the more hard-line elements of the Utah GOP, who claim it’s Anderson who is acting outside of his mandate as party chair.

Sources within the Utah GOP tell UtahPolicy.com it’s an almost certainty that those hardline delegates will attempt to override Anderson’s decision and quash the proposals excluded by the C&B committee on the convention floor.

Anderson says, despite the allegations of nefarious intent against him, he’s just trying to make sure everyone has a fair and equal chance to participate in the convention.

“We tend to get wrapped around the axel with our arguments about rules. I’m just trying to manage a large organization where everybody has input, and nobody is ignored,” he said.