Utah GOP Chairman Derek Brown says he won’t accept donation from Dave Bateman to pay off party debt

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Thanks, but no thanks.

That’s the message newly-elected Utah State Republican Party chair Derek Brown has for Dave Bateman, on Bateman’s offer to pay off the party’s $100,000 operational debt in return for certain guarantees.

Tuesday morning, just before flying off to Washington, D.C., for some RNC training on winning elections (something the Utah GOP can use), Brown politely told UtahPolicy.com that Bateman’s offer simply is not needed.

“I’m very confident” that the state GOP can get back on track financially – and pay off that long-standing debt – “without any outside assistance.”

By that, Brown means Bateman’s offer made a week ago on social media, isn’t needed and won’t be accepted.

“We have many pledges (of money), small and large” from folks who used to give regularly to the state Republican Party, said Brown. They stopped because they didn’t want their donations going to fight SB54, a law they support, past GOP leaders said.

And there are pledges for financial newcomers, as well, said Brown, who was elected chair over Phill Wright – a Bateman employee at the software firm Entrata that Bateman operates – several weeks ago in the state GOP convention.

Bateman said one of his conditions to paying off the state GOP operational debt is that any bylaw changes approved previously by the State Central Committee are appropriately passed on to the Utah State Elections Office.

One of those bylaw changes, passed by the old SCC in early 2018, was deemed “illegal” by both then-party chair Rob Anderson and Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox, head of the elections office.

The bylaw said that the state GOP only recognized candidates who advanced to a primary election via the delegate/convention route – thus ignoring SB54’s signature-gathering path to a primary.

Cox said at the time that his office would not try to enforce any party bylaw, concerning the ballot, that violates state law.

If Anderson had sent up the bylaw, and if Cox had recognized it, there could have been all kinds of trouble for GOP candidates on last year’s general election ballot – even up to the point that some of them wouldn’t have been on the ballot at all, or not under the Republican Party banner on the ballot.

The SCC, angry that Anderson refused to send up the bylaw change, “investigated” him and later “censured” him earlier this year for not submitting the bylaw.

Anderson didn’t run again for chair. Brown was elected and announced the intra-party fight over SB54 was over, and most of the Gang of 51 who was fighting Anderson et al. over SB54 either didn’t run for SCC seats again, or did and were defeated – as UtahPolicy.com has reported on extensively.

The anti-Gang of 51 sweep was completed last Thursday night when former Utah House member Ryan Wilcox beat SB54 opponent Bill Olson for the Weber County GOP chair.

Bateman paid off the state party’s attorney fees (originally over $400,000), under the promise that the party’s lawsuit against SB54 would go all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. In March the high court refused to hear the appeal from the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals upholding SB54 – thus ending the party’s legal challenges.

The bylaw change, Gang of 51 leaders admitted, was one way to get back into federal court over SB54.

Brown said it is up to the newly-elected SCC to decide if they want to try to force the bylaw change upon Cox.

But Brown added that he believes that argument “is left over from” the old SCC’s fight against Anderson, and doesn’t have a place in the newly-managed Utah Republican Party.

“That (bylaw) just gets us back to the core issue” between the old SCC and Anderson, said Brown.

“I’m looking forward; we should all look forward, not back,” he added. “That is not helpful.”

So, Bateman’s $100,000 to pay off party debt originated before 2017 is not needed, said Brown.

“A lot of folks who have not (donated) in the past few years” have stepped up over the last few weeks, said Brown.

“We are very encouraged” over fundraising, and no “outside” money is needed.