GOP

Joyce Boyer, Jennifer Lohrenz and Denise Shirley resigned on Monday.

Three members of the Park County Republican Party’s executive committee resigned Monday, citing “irreconcilable differences” regarding views on the role of the executive committee chairman.

People on both sides said the contention leading to the resignations was a result of a split in the party.

State committeewoman Denise Shirley, vice chair Joyce Boyer and treasurer Jennifer Lohrenz presented a joint resignation during a central committee meeting in the basement of Big Horn Federal.

“Due to irreconcilable differences in our view as to the role and definition of a chairman of the Park County Republican Party as intended to be a role of leadership, not dictatorship; we the undersigned do hereby resign our elected positions on the executive committee,” the letter reads.

Resignation

The resignation occurred during a discussion regarding the upcoming Freedom Celebration on July 3. Event chair Carol Armstrong had proposed a $740 budget for the event. The idea of adopting a $1,000 budget to allow for expenses, representing an increase from last year’s budget, was being debated. At one point, Lohrenz was standing, seeking recognition by executive committee chairman Martin Kimmet. Kimmet told Lohrenz to sit down, but later apologized for incorrectly telling her to do so.

“When I recognize you, you may stand,” he said.

At this point, Lohrenz, Shirley, and Boyer presented the resignation, gathered their things, and left the table at the front of the room. The three remained seated at the back for the remainder of the meeting.

“We were pushed out,” Lohrenz said Tuesday. “It’s because we didn’t align within a certain mindset in the party. The only other option was to put up with that behavior.”

Shirley pointed to the treatment of Rep. Sandy Newsome as a catalyst for her joining in the resignations.

“The most disturbing thing is they have gone as far as excluding Sandy Newsome from participating in legislator updates and invited Dave Northrop and Dan Larson,” she said. “They may not agree with her, but (they) have no right withholding her from the party that voted her into office.”

In the immediate wake of the resignations, the central committee did pass the proposed $1,000 budget for the Freedom Celebration, ending debate on that point. The event will proceed as planned.

Vanata appointment

Another contentious issue followed. Chairman Kimmet had named Vince Vanata to the position of secretary on the executive committee. Since that action, there has been ongoing debate about whether it was within the scope of his power to do so. Some within the party were requesting such appointments be subject to ratification by the central committee.

Following debate, a motion proposing the chairman’s appointment of a secretary be subject to ratification was put forward.

Those in favor of executive appointment argued the chairman and secretary are a team, so the chair should appoint someone he or she can trust and work with. It was also argued that since the secretary does not vote, he or she is not an officer. The secretary has no term, serving at the pleasure of the chairman.

Sheila Leach, a central committee member, condemned those who were calling for ratification as flouting precedent.

“This has never happened before,” she said. “This is an ad hominem (personal) attack against Vince Vanata.”

Leach was appointed by Kimmet as the secretary when he became chairman after the previous chairman’s resignation. At the election of officers in March, Kimmett won his own term and asked her to stay on. After the meeting, Vanata expressed an interest in the position to Kimmet and Leach. Leach voluntarily stepped aside.

This led to Vanata’s nomination for the position. Opponents of Vanata’s nomination expressed regret at not opposing the method of Leach’s nomination when they had a chance.

Opponents of the chairman’s effort to appoint argued that the central committee has the right to interpret the by-laws when there is a conflict. Others argued the effort to appoint was an executive overreach, made possible by the ambiguous language of the by-laws.

Ann Simpson, a central committee member, argued for the vote.

“This is a democratic society,” she said. “Why wouldn’t we want to vote to ratify a position?”

Several legal experts had been consulted by both sides leading up to the meeting. They offered conflicting interpretations of the by-laws.

Leach was clearly appointed by Kimmet, with no immediate protest by the central committee. Further back, there were incidents where members of the executive committee were consulted in the selection process, including one incident where an unofficial vote was taken.

The deciding vote

As the Central committee prepared to decide the issue, there were 52 members and proxy votes present. The voice vote was too close to decide. A paper ballot vote was suggested, which was ultimately decided against.

A show-of-hands vote was taken. The first vote tied 26-26. A second vote was taken, with the same result. This, in accordance with the by-laws, made it possible for Kimmet to vote. He cast the deciding vote against the motion, allowing the chairman’s appointment of the secretary to not be subject to central committee approval.

Following his tie-breaking vote, Kimmet reminded the central committee that if they don’t like what he is doing as chairman, it is in their power to remove him.

A larger trend

Chairman Kimmet spoke about the developments after the meeting.

“Ever since my first time at convention, I could see division in this party,” he said.

He noted hearing about similar rifts from national-level leadership in the party, stating “progressive movements” within are surfacing, and pointing to Colorado as an example of the GOP’s shifting political fortunes.

Kimmet said he has tried to unify people since being elected chairman earlier this year. He will not be surprised if an effort is mounted to unseat him.

“There could be,” he said. “I don’t know what people are going to do.”

Lohrenz is now looking to see if there’s any way the rift she sees in local party leadership can heal.

“As far as the future, I’m worried for the party,” she said. “There are a lot of good people who would be on both sides of the aisle, good people that want to come to the table, but there is leadership there that won’t allow it.”

One thing everyone involved seems to agree on is the ambiguity of the by-laws.

“Absolutely (they need to be clarified),” Kimmet said “There’s no doubt in my mind. We will be looking at it at county convention.”

The central committee has not decided whether or not to accept the submitted resignations. That matter and elections, if necessary, will be taken up at the next meeting, which has yet to be scheduled.

(Zac Taylor contributed to this report)

(9) comments

Justine

Not even sure why this is "news", especially not a headliner. I feel like I'm reading about the local neighborhood gossip.

ConstitutionLover

According to the Park County GOP Bylaws; the Secretary is an appointed position by the Chair and serves at the Chair's pleasure. The only positions requiring 'ratification' are Officers which are elected. When positions are vacant the process is detailed and spelled out quite simply how they are refilled in Art III, 5. d,e & f. Copies of the Bylaws can be obtained at the County Clerks Office.

Fox Blue River

The modern Republican party is the worst organization the world has ever seen. No other group has ever been bent on the absolute destruction of planetary life or knowingly shunned the advice of experts on every topic like the GOP do. A political party based on mob mentality, failed ideas and bronze aged beliefs.

DeweyV

- and there we have it , inhabitants of the Republican bastion of Park County Wyoming , a sterling example at the local grassroots level of what is wrong with the 21st century Republican Party . Look hard, both eyes open . Adjusted for scale from the grand national convention down to the local one-room congregation , see the GOP that has become a mockery of itself . Now turned inside out we all see plainly what they are made of , and it's not pretty . It's also a huge fraud being perped on America. What used to be true Conservatism is now a perverse Social Conservatism. What used to stand for smaller government now exudes the corruption of the special interests; corporate control but no democracy outside the boardrooms of Wall Street ; deconstruction or demolishing of longstanding government institutions and programs with nothing to replace them; fiscal irresponsibility glazed with a perverse belief that all taxes are poison ; building a morbidly obese military to fight the last five wars all over again , and again, and again without learning anything; allowing personal responsibility to become class warfare with strong elements of bigotry, xenophobia, white nationalism , and faux patriotism. It's a long list. But hey, here in Park County we shamelessly voted 73 percent for Trump and your local GOP leadership wants you to take the red-blue paper litmus test. Republicans of thee 21st century are not what they used to be, and seldom what they claim to be. Don't believe what they say... watch what they do . Or so it would all seem to those of us outside the fishbowl , in the broader view. Condensed down to a clichéd soundbite, we could simply say the inmates are now in charge of the asylum. Perhaps this is why the good old boys of the local Trumpublican Party felt they had to start their own Park County Republican Men's Club recently .

(Edited by staff.)

Gunrunner Auctions

Earlier this year, the Park County Republican Party voted for Chairman, Vice-Chairman, etc. By a slight margin, the "Old Guard" was retained. Immediately there was the usual "non-communication" (no email updates on GOP local/state activity/legislation, etc.), no fund-raisers, no recruitment drives. In other words: "Business as usual" from the Old Guard. Very upsetting.... We are very close to the KEY elections of 2020 where a new State Senator and replacement Senator for Enzi's retirement will be chosen. Two NEW Park County GOP members ran for the chairman and vice-chairman seats and narrowly lost: Nina Webber for chair and Bob Fergusson for vice-chair. These two could care less about "past squabbles" or "saber rattling" from the Old Guard. Both have extensive pasts serving as GOP elected officials and Fergusson represented GOP interests at the Republican National Convention and was NRA's highest fund raiser last year (a HUGE feat!). Nina Webber was Hot Springs County Clerk for five years and served on several key state boards including insurance. Both have sat in hundreds and hundreds of Republican meetings and KNOW how meeting procedures are governed by various by-laws and Roberts Rule of Order. I could go on and on about these two great Republicans. Now is the time for new leadership that focuses IMMEDIATELY on these vital issues: 1. Fund-raising. 2. Recruitment. 3. Informing at least weekly via email ALL Republican Party members of upcoming legislation, Governor office press releases, new candidates, etc. 4. Promoting the best candidates for city, county, state and federal. Right now the "Old Guard" is in a quagmire of PROCEDURAL issues and not even concentrating on the above issues. 2020 is NEXT YEAR. NEW BLOOD NOW. I can assure you that Nina Webber and Bob Fergusson will revitalize the Park County Republican Party PRONTO.

ConstitutionLover

It seems you are confused a bit. The 'Old Guard' was not elected. That would have been those who prefer to never meet except when required. The current Chair is attempting to allow members to celebrate our Military with the Freedom Celebration and allow fundraisers to happen. There are some who refuse to follow the bylaws because they did NOT win the Chair and are attempting to violate them. It is easy. Read them and you will understand how this organization is to be run. I understand that the State has ruled with the current Chair. There are some who continue to cry that they are not being heard but refuse to use the tools at hand, namely the bylaws and Roberts Rules and have resorted to spreading misinformation. I do hope people will ask questions, read the bylaws and make educated decisions about the situation. It does not help that the local NEWS paper does not.

P Demoney

Not sure why I think it so funny that they are eating their own, keep it up!

JC Pilot

I am a GOP. The Park Co Republican committee has long been a den of fools. Let's disband it, bar all previous members/officers and start over. Let the clowns join the circus and let some new people try to build the party back up

Disgusted taxpayer

You are absolutely right.The Park County GOP is the poster child of a tired old establishment full of ding dongs and know-it-alls who have done little to represent "ALL" Park County citizens.

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