Bingham County delegates rejected at Idaho Republican convention

COEUR d'ALENE – One of Idaho's 44 counties will not be represented at the Idaho Republican National Convention after Bingham County delegates were excluded Friday, allegedly because the Bingham County Republican Central Committee failed to pay its dues to the state party.

Some Republicans believe the move has more to do with politics than money.

Reporters were not allowed to attend the general meeting at the Schuler Performing Arts Center on the campus of North Idaho College. Convention organizers told The Press that was due to space constraints, although auditorium staff reported that about 200 seats were empty, including three reserved for media.

During the meeting, Caribou County resident and former party chairman Trent Clark objected to the exclusion of Bingham County delegates from the convention. No discussion was allowed.

After the meeting ended, Clark said he did not believe the Idaho Republican Party's rules allowed the exclusion of an entire county's delegation.

“This is a disregard for the will of the voters,” he said.

Ben Fuhriman, delegate for the 30th Congressional District, said the Bingham County Central Committee is unable to pay its dues because all but $500 of the funds are earmarked to pay legal costs in an ongoing lawsuit against Idaho Republicans. The lawsuit, filed last year, alleges that Idaho Republican Chairwoman Dorothy Moon improperly abused her authority to overturn the results of the Central Committee's election for chair.

A judge ruled in February that Moon had the right to hold an election to fill a vacant chairman position and the authority to void the election. The Bingham County Central Committee's allegation that he violated the principle of good faith will be tested in court in the future.

Fuhriman said Bingham County had requested an extension or fee waiver but was denied. According to several people at the convention, the Idaho Republican Credentials Committee rejected a complaint on the matter filed Thursday by the Bingham County delegation.

A copy of the complaint obtained by the Press also asks the Credentials Committee to investigate “numerous significant violations of state and party regulations relating to the delegate selection process in several counties” and suggests that some delegates from Ada, Washington, Bannock, Bonner, Payette and Oneida counties are ineligible to attend the convention due to “documented procedural violations.”

“It's really unfortunate that they are disenfranchising Bingham County, one of the most agriculturally important counties in the state, and telling citizens that their vote in the Republican Party doesn't count,” Fuhriman said.

Clark said he believed there was another reason for the rejection of the Bingham County delegation.

“Because the Bingham County Central Committee will not vote for Dorothy Moon,” he said. “That's what they said in the Executive Committee.”

Moon is competing to retain her position as party chair against former Idaho representative and Coeur d'Alene resident Mary Souza.

Clark said he supported the Bingham County delegation because that county's interests closely align with those of his home county, neighboring Caribou County.

“It is important for Republicans in Caribou County that we recognize Republicans from Bingham County,” he said.

The meeting continues today at North Idaho College.

Anna Harden

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