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Idaho GOP chairwoman sued, accused of meddling in elections

Idaho State Republican Party Chairwoman Dorothy Moon sitting at her desk when she was a member of the House.
James Dawson
Boise State Public Radio
Idaho Republican Party Chair Dorothy Moon, right, as seen in this file photo from her time as a state representative.

The Bingham County Republican Central Committee is suing state GOP chairwoman Dorothy Moon, accusing her of improperly invalidating a recent election to replace the group’s leader.

It said Moon is doing so to stack county-level political parties with her allies to avoid her rivals overriding her decisions at the state level.

According to the lawsuit filed in the state’s 7th District Court, former BCRCC chair, Dan Cravens, said he was resigning because he was moving out of Idaho on July 13.

A week later, the group held an election to replace Cravens, with Matt Thompson taking over as committee chairman.

However, one of the board members, Josh Sorensen, attended the meeting on Zoom and was told he would not be allowed to vote despite being eligible to do so.

Court documents say that’s because there were technical difficulties that prevented Sorensen from casting a secret ballot. Because of those glitches, BCRCC said no rules were broken.

State GOP chairwoman Moon disagrees. Roughly one month after Thompson was elected to lead the BCRCC, she sent an anonymous complaint to the group saying they didn’t follow state party rules in selecting him.

On Sept. 5, Moon vacated the July election results with a notice that a new election Sept. 18 – a date that, according to court records, several committee members would be out of town.

They allege she also didn’t notify all members of the board of the new elections.

Thompson said he filed an appeal with the state party over the voided election results. But the group said Moon hadn’t told them whether she would cancel her proposed meeting as required until a ruling on the appeal is rendered.

The county party is asking a judge to halt that new election from taking place.

These leadership positions within county political parties are important, as they have the power to agree with or override decisions made by the state party, including Moon, in some cases.

The BCRCC alleges this isn’t the first time Moon has tried to give her allies influential positions at the county level.

In February, the group said she invalidated leadership elections within the Power County Republican Central Committee.

The lawsuit claims Mark Fuller, a state party vice chair and Moon ally, wrote to a member of the Power County committee that the election would be held at 7:00 p.m. on March 21. But when she arrived at 6:35 p.m., the election had already concluded, with the meeting starting at 6 p.m. instead.

In a statement, Moon said the case is "completely without merit and self-contradictory."

The board cannot hold an election to fill a position that has not yet been vacated, she said.

"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," said Moon. "It is notable that this new meeting would be among the same members that held the illegitimate meeting to the likely outcome would be the same."

The lawsuit is the latest example of warring factions within the state Republican Party.

BCRCC retained former state Rep. Greg Chaney (R-Caldwell) to represent it in the case. Far right groups successfully defeated Chaney in the 2022 GOP primary, saying he wasn’t conservative enough.

Moon also criticized Chaney in her statement to Boise State Public Radio.

"I suspect Mr. Chaney is aware of his argument’s defects which is why he stoops to conspiracy theories and character assassinations to distract from the facts," she said.

Dozens of former Republican officials and lawmakers earlier this week signed on to a campaign to eliminate the closed GOP primary in Idaho, with former Gov. Butch Otter saying it’s led to more extreme and divisive candidates – mostly from the Republican Party.

Follow James Dawson on Twitter @RadioDawson for more local news.

Copyright 2023 Boise State Public Radio

I cover politics and a bit of everything else for Boise State Public Radio. Outside of public meetings, you can find me fly fishing, making cool things out of leather or watching the Seattle Mariners' latest rebuilding season. If you have a tip, please get in touch!

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