Judge grants restraining order against Idaho GOP after Bingham County Republicans file lawsuit - East Idaho News

Judge grants restraining order against Idaho GOP after Bingham County Republicans file lawsuit

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BLACKFOOT — A judge granted a temporary restraining order against the Idaho Republican Party on Friday afternoon, just hours after the Bingham County Republican Central Committee filed a suit against the party.

The Bingham County Republican Central Committee and Chairman Matt Thompson accused the Idaho GOP and its Chairwoman Dorothy Moon of using “bully tactics” in a recent election within the local party.

According to the Bingham County GOP, Moon inappropriately used her power and authority to negate an election within the Bingham County Republican Central Committee. The lawsuit was first filed Thursday, but then Bingham County Republicans filed a motion for a temporary restraining order and injuction against the party.

The court action stems from the relatively benign process of electing a new committee chairman, according to Thompson. When the previous chairman, Dan Cravens, announced his resignation in July, the local committee held an election to replace him. Thompson was elected as chairman, which triggered a domino affect through the ranks.

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Thompson’s previous position as state committeeman was left empty, so the central committee held an election to fill it. Ben Fuhriman was elected as Thompson’s replacement. Consequently, Fuhriman’s position was left open, so the local committee elected Jedidiah Russell as Fuhriman’s replacement. Jordon Johns was then elected as first vice-chair to Thompson.

When it was all said and done, an anonymous grievance threatened to undo it all.

“A grievance was filed, saying the election didn’t follow the party rules,” Thompson told EastIdahoNews.com. “(Moon) emailed us, said we were in violation of the rule. She said she is going to have a new election to install new officers.”

The Bingham County Republicans appealed Moon’s decision to the state party. As vice chairman of the Idaho Republican Party, Daniel Silver was in charge of handling the appeal. He sent a letter to Moon telling her she couldn’t nullify the committee’s actions until the appeal was decided.

“I am concerned that you scheduled a reorganization meeting for Sept. 18, 2023. This notice was posted in the county newspaper to hold a new election without the Bingham County Central Committee’s awareness,” Silver said in the letter, which EastIdahoNews.com obtained. “Once an appeal is submitted, the party chairwoman must recuse herself and turn that over to the next available officer (which is the 1st Vice Chairman).”

“Despite Party Rules allowing for an appeals process before a decision of the chair is enforceable, Moon has stated her intention to ignore the appeal and stage her own election of officers on Sept. 18,” Greg Chaney, who represents the Bingham County Republican Central Committee, stated in a news release.

The restraining order granted in 7th District Court on Friday morning puts a stop to the Sept. 18 meeting until the election can be reviewed. Further, Moon is prohibited from appointing nominees on behalf of the GOP for the vacant position of the Bingham County prosecuting attorney until a review of Thompson’s appeal can be completed.

In court documents, the committee expressed a belief that Moon was trying to take control of the process to nominate a new Bingham County prosecuting attorney. The next order of business for the committee is to submit its nominations for that position.

“The court is satisfied that it is appropriate to issue a temporary restraining order prohibiting the Idaho Republican Party, by and through Dorothy Moon, from conducting or holding any meeting to elect officers to the Bingham County Republican Central Committee,” 7th Judicial District Judge Darren B. Simpson stated in the order.

In a written statement, Moon calls the complaint “completely without merit and self-contradictory.”

“Chairman Cravens announced that he PLANNED to resign on Aug. 1, 2023,” Moon said. “He then conducted an election on July 20 to fill a vacancy that did not yet exist. Before you can hold an election to fill a vacancy, that vacancy must actually exist.”

She asserted that the Bingham County Committee only needed to call a meeting and redo the election after the previous chairman left. According to Idaho law, if a meeting isn’t called, then “the state chairman shall call a county central committee meeting. … I am obligated by our rules to call the meeting to correct the fact that under our rules, Bingham County does not have a legitimately-elected chairman.”

Moon also noted that if the election were to be held again, the results would likely be the same.

“If the BCRCC is not legitimately organized, the validity of the appointed county prosecutor may come into question, and if the prosecutor’s legitimacy is in question, all cases he prosecutes are in jeopardy,” Moon said in regards to the assertion she was seeking to provide her own nominees for the prosecutor position.

Simpson didn’t address the other claims made in the lawsuit. A hearing on the matter has been scheduled for Sept. 28 to decide on the motion to allow the elected party officials to stay in their positions. Until then, neither the state nor local GOP can make nominations for the prosecutor’s position.