Utah State GOP Chairman Ethics Complaints Whitewashed By Utah Media

by Ben McClintock 9. November 2017 17:25

On November 2, 2017 the Davis County Republican Party (DCRP) issued a press release regarding ethics violations of then county chair and current state party chair, Rob Anderson. As of the publication date of this article, no media outlet has published the press release. The few outlets that have discussed it (you can read here and here) only mention it in passing, making the complaint sound like mere partisan infighting.  

Rob Anderson's personal lawyer, David Irvine (who also serves as a lawyer for the extreme leftist organization Alliance for a Better Utah), is the source reporters used for their spun narrative.  The actual party findings were never quoted.

The full press release properly exposes that serious accusations against Rob Anderson were substantiated by the party's ethics committee.  What conclusions can people draw by witnessing that multiple mainstream media reports suggest a different story than the actual press release?  Why would the media not publish this document?

In the interest of getting a more clear picture of the story, Defending Utah investigated further by contacting members of the state central committee and other party members.

We heard personal statements that fully supported the document's story.

Former DCRP webmaster, Joe Levi, expressed concerns about the alleged threats made by Chairman Anderson towards members of the ethics committee,  

It's concerning when any person behaves as if they are ‘above the law’. In Davis County, through his attorney, Mr. Anderson reportedly threatened each member of the Ethics committee with individual lawsuits if they performed the duties which they were elected to do: investigate Ethics Complaints. He then reportedly, acting on his own, without approval from the Executive Committee or the Central Committee, removed the Ethics Committee and its members from the DCRP's insurance policy, apparently to shield himself from accountability for his actions. This pattern was repeated in Saturday's SCC meeting when he adjourned the meeting just as the agenda item to consider Censuring him and other Executive Officers had come up. One SCC member even exclaimed from the microphone ‘did you seriously just adjourn your own censure’. According to the Platform of the Utah Republican Party, ‘ETHICS AND STANDARDS: We demand honesty, integrity, morality, and accountability of our public officials. We will work to expose and stop corruption.’ - even when that may be coming from the Party Chair.

Further alleging collusion with legislator Todd Weiler, Don Guymon (Utah Republican Party Executive Committee member & DCRP Central Committee member) told Defending Utah,

"In 2016 I attempted to pass a Constitutional Change to indemnify members of the Davis County Ethics Committee, because I was told they were not indemnified.  Rob's appointed C&B Chair made changes to my proposal, which Todd Weiler used against the proposal.  The proposal got approximately 65% of votes of county delegates just short of the required 2/3rds."

In the interest of transparency, Defending Utah is including the party’s press release in full:

Press Release                                                                                                                    November 2, 2017

Contact: Teena Horlacher

Chair of the Davis County Republican Party

801-498-0964

Ethics Complaints Substantiated against former Davis County Republican Party Chair Rob Anderson

In a closed executive session on Thursday, November 2, 2017, the Davis County Republican Party Ethics Committee released their finding to the DCRP Executive Committee of a substantiated claim against former DCRP Chair Rob Anderson.

The Ethics Committee reported their findings after a long and arduous effort by the committee.

The complaint was initially filed, on October 16, 2015. In the process of the investigation, the accused, Rob Anderson, when asked to answer questions in relation to the charges responded through his attorney, David Irvine.

Irvine, with Anderson present, informed the ethics committee that if they proceeded with any further investigation he would bring suit against each individual member of the ethics committee on Anderson’s behalf. He based this threat on a supposed loophole within the constitution of the DCRP, which, according to Irvine, left ethics committee members vulnerable due to lack of protection from potential lawsuits. Under this threat, one ethics committee member resigned. The remaining committee members, fearful to proceed due to a question of legal indemnification, suspended their work on the investigation.

At the DCRP County Convention on April 16, 2016, efforts to clarify indemnification language in the constitution “regarding the ethics committee members” failed under the Anderson administration, after misleading statements were made about the impact of indemnification on the DCRP.

As a result the ethics committee postponed the investigation of the complaints until further action to indemnify them could be taken.

With the change of party leadership in May of 2017, it was discovered that Anderson had removed the ethics committee from the liability insurance policy held by the DCRP shortly after the 2016 County Convention without discussion or consent of the County Central Committee or executive committee.

On June 22, 2017, the DCRP County Central Committee voted overwhelmingly to indemnify ethics committee members. The vote followed after a discussion of the abuse of the committee due to legal threat and their need to be protected against such political intimidation.

Following indemnification, the ethics committee resumed their investigation of the ethics complaints against Anderson resulting in a finding of a substantiated complaint of “behavior unbecoming an officer of the DCRP” as reported to the executive committee on November 2, 2017.

“His tactics of intimidation have brought substantial harm to the party in impeding the work of fairness, order and justice” according to ethics committee members. The real and personal affect on the ethics committee has had a long and lasting impact, taking almost two years to finish the investigation, while throughout the process they worked under threat.

While the executive committee was not apprised of specific details, the ethics report did specify that the threatening behavior toward their committee was unfair to appointed members who work on a voluntary basis to support the workings of the party. In addition, undue stress has also been placed on the current administration to overcome the affects of this intimidation in order to have the ethics committee fully functional again and for order to be restored.

The workings of the ethics committee are very confidential as stipulated by the DCRP Constitution and Bylaws, however, part of the complaint and some of the specifics regarding it were leaked to the press in 2016. This satirical and slanted article is believed to be aimed at shutting down the ethics committee and others and to dissuade any future allegations from being brought forward. (Rolly: Signature-gathering firm goes from villain to hero for Utah GOP, archive.sltrib.com).

“In a world where it seems no one is held accountable for unethical behavior it is gratifying to see the ethics committee rebound and come forward with their finding in a courageous manner,” said Teena Horlacher, current chair of the DCRP.

The remedy determined by the executive committee of the DCRP includes this public explanation and statement. In addition, this statement will be released to all Republican County Executive Committees, State Central Committee members and all media.

Sources:

Deseret News: https://www.deseretnews.com/article/900003421/decision-to-drop-elections-lawsuit-divides-utah-gop.html

http://www.davisgop.org/

KSL: https://www.ksl.com/?nid=148&sid=46192439

http://betterutah.org/about-us/board/david-irvine/

http://www.davisgop.org/

OFFICIAL PRESS RELEASE

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1st Amendment | Constitution | corruption | Corruption | Todd Weiler, SD23, | Utah Politics

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