Well, Utah State Republican Party Chairman Rob Anderson has “officially” been censured by the party’s State Central Committee for not sending up to the Utah Elections Office a party bylaw passed over a year ago that Anderson believed then, and apparently believes now, was “illegal.”
Anderson, a former Air Force fighter pilot, and a commercial pilot, refuses to resign over his continuing battle against a small segment of the SCC – also known as the “Gang of 51,” who continue battling over SB54.
That group – having taken over the party’s official lawsuits against the 2014 compromise law (SB54), which allows a candidate to take a voter signature or convention/delegate route to a party’s primary election – has lost two federal court trials, an appeal to the Utah Supreme Court, an appeal to the 10thCircuit Court of Appeals, and now its appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court was denied earlier this month.
But the small group of hardliners are refusing to give up – and in fact, the bylaw passed a year ago in a special SCC meeting – which Anderson refused to submit to Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox’s election office – was specifically drafted to provide yet another federal court avenue of litigation.
A confidential report obtained by UtahPolicy.com admits that the bylaw was passed, in part or in whole, to allow another lawsuit to be filed. The report was produced from a special investigation by 5 members of the State Central Committee and presented to the Utah GOP’s governing body over the weekend. Anderson was officially censured by the group.
Anderson’s two-year term as chairman ends with the May 4 state GOP organizing convention at Utah Valley University.
Around 4,500 state delegates, voted in last March’s 2018 neighborhood party caucuses, will decide the new chair, vice chair, treasurer and secretary. Usually only around half of the state delegates bother to show up at an off-election-year convention.
Various slates of candidates usually run for the 187-member SCC, which also includes slots for major Republicans officeholders, like governor, U.S. Senate and House members. Those folks were elected a year ago – and the “Gang of 51” have been against Anderson ever since.
Chair candidates must file for the office by April 4 at 5 p.m. – although a few candidates have already declared they want the post. It is unclear if Anderson will run again or not.
GOP Gov. Gary Herbert recently said in his monthly KUED press conference that someone who can bring an end to the SB54 intra-party fight should run and win, although the governor has not yet backed any of the possible candidates.
Anderson has sent out an email to many of the 650,000 registered Republican voters in Utah, as well as a separate email to the current GOP legislators – who make up a majority in the state House and Senate.
The five-member “investigation” committee, in its report, also asks the party secretary to publish the report online – thus showing the reasons why Anderson was censured by Saturday’s SCC meeting.
A source close to Anderson tells UtahPolicy.com that the investigation and report were timed to try to get him to resign as party chair – he has refused to do so – and to damage his effort to seek re-election from the upcoming party delegate convention.
In consultation with Cox and Utah Election Office staffers, Anderson decided not to officially forward what he and Cox consider an “illegal” party bylaw to the Elections Office, fearing it could have pushed some GOP 2018 candidates off of the final ballot, or allowed them on the ballot, but not under the Utah Republican Party banner.
The investigation committee’s report says that Anderson, among other things, could be removed from being chair for refusing to send up that bylaw change to Cox.
But it would take at least a month to conduct a “trial” where Anderson would be found guilty and removed from office, and the May convention is coming soon enough to replace him, in any case, the report said.
You can read the report below.
The SCC on Saturday also changed the rule on how many votes it takes to remove a state party officer.
It used to be 60 percent of all 187 SCC members, or 113 votes. That would be a high bar for any faction of SCC members seeking to get rid of the chair.
The chair replacement rule was changed to be 60 percent of a quorum of the SCC. Since a quorum could be as little as 40 members, 27 members of that small quorum could replace a chair in the future.
Not necessarily a good sign for anyone who wants to be Utah State Republican Party chair, and who takes on the Gang of 51 in the future.