Brown vows financial transparency as he takes the reins of the Utah GOP

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Derek Brown says there is going to be a new way of operating the Utah Republican Party.

And it starts with “transparency” – especially financially.

To start with, at the June 22 meeting of the newly-elected State Central Committee there will be a report by the treasurer on how much money the party has in the bank.

And there will soon be an audit that will be made public, first to the SCC and then to the public at large, says Brown.

There hasn’t been a certified audit of the state GOP in years, in part because the old SCC wouldn’t allow payment for an old audit, which was needed before former GOP chair Rob Anderson could get an updated audit.

No more financial uncertainty, says Brown, who was elected to a two-year chair term in last month’s state GOP convention.

“Everyone will know where we are” financially, says Brown – especially the party donors who will be asked for more than $1 million over the next 12 months.

That’s Brown’s fund-raising goal.

And above and beyond the estimated $100,000 in party debt left over from before” Anderson single chair term, back in 2017.

“We have to pay down the debt” and raise an additional one million bucks if the state GOP is going to win in 2020, he adds.

And he promises that the party will win next year.

Also, Brown says party leaders will adopt a budget – and live by it, not spending more than they bring in via donations.

Any number of politicos were impressed during the May convention when Anderson et al. scripted most of the convention moves – from limiting debate early in the convention hall, to bypassing all bylaw and constitutional debates (which used to push convention into double digit hours of arguing, but didn’t), to adjourning early, barely two hours into the formal agenda schedule.

Brown said the “disunion” seen in the 10-hour 2018 state GOP convention is a thing of the past.

“I really don’t see that” long embattled convention last year “as happening again,” says Brown.

SCC meetings, also, will be relatively short and to the point, he hopes.

No need for “special” SCC meetings – organized by a group of hardline dissident members known as “the Gang of 51,” to pass questionable bylaw changes and harangue the chair and other party leaders.

There is new optimism among GOP activists, says Brown – who adds he is willing and able to meet with any dedicated Republicans to get the party back on track, and putting the SB54 and other fights behind them.

It started with Brown’s chair election over “Gang of 51” leader Phill Wright – in what turned out to be a relatively easy victory for the former GOP Utah House member.

County parties along the Wasatch Front – the backbone of the state GOP – then kicked out of office a number of their SCC members who were “Gang of 51” supporters and seeking re-election.

Obstinate party county chairs who also fought against Anderson either didn’t seek re-election or were beaten back in their chair re-election bids.

Brown said after reported that the state party wouldn’t be taking $100,000 from Entrata’s Dave Bateman, who attached some strings to his paying off the state party debt, he (Brown) got a few telephone calls from unhappy SCC members who said that wasn’t the chair’s decision, but the governing SCC.

That’s OK, said Brown.

He agrees ultimately accepting any such “deals” will be up to the SCC – just like they agreed to Bateman paying the party’s attorneys’ fees over the unsuccessful SB54 lawsuit.

But, Brown adds, he doubts there will even be a vote on accepting Bateman’s latest offer, or at least it won’t pass – should it even come up in future SCC meetings.

“Fundamentally, I don’t believe we will accept any (donations) that come with strings attached,” said Brown, no matter who is making the offer.

“No party can do that” – for that would mean money could buy the party’s direction, which must be set by the elected leaders, not just one or two wealthy individuals seeking influence.

But he adds he appreciates the generosity of party members, giving large and small, to get the party back on track and winning next year.

And where the party is financially will be open for all to see, he promises.

All political parties next financial reports due to the Utah Elections Office come at the end of this calendar year.

But SCC meetings are public, and any financial reports made at the meetings will, obviously, be public as well, says Brown.