PARK CITY, Utah -- The Utah Republican State Central Committee voted on Saturday to keep the Count My Vote lawsuit, just a few days after the GOP Chairman announced the suit would be dropped.
The controversial SB54 allows candidates to get on the ballot by gathering signatures rather than going through the party caucus system.
Utah GOP Chair Rob Anderson announced the party was going to drop the lawsuit because it could no longer afford the legal fees. Some committee members proposed a motion at Saturday’s meeting to censure Anderson for making the decision without them.
“There was a valid provision in our rules to dismiss the lawsuit,” Anderson said. “There’s a group here who want to hear the decision from the 10th Circuit and that’s what this is.”
An accountant said the Utah GOP owes $423,000 and $360,000 of that debt is due to the lawsuit.
After hours of debate, former GOP Chairman Thomas Wright announced a motion that would keep the lawsuit going until a decision is made by the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals on the condition that the party is not responsible for additional legal fees.
Wright said he met with Entrata Owner Dave Bateman, and the Provo software developer has agreed to pick up any costs after the ruling.
“What we did was come together,” Wright said. “The Republican Party came together. There are differing opinions on this thing and we proved you can get people together and talk things through. We came together with a resolution everyone can agree on.”
The meeting ended without Anderson taking a vote on whether he should be censured.
“We ran out of time for the business at the end,” Anderson said. “I promised a lot of people we would be out of here by one o’clock. If you’re going to censure me, censure me at this meeting or that meeting, censure anytime you want.”
While members of the state GOP are waiting to vote on the censure of Anderson, the Davis County Republican Party is accusing him of unethical behavior.
Teena Horlacher, chair of the Davis County GOP, said the ethics complaints originate with an accusation against Anderson from October of 2015.
During that investigation he and his attorney went before the Davis County Republican Party Ethics Committee and allegedly threatened the members with personal lawsuits.
Now the ethics committee is renewing and adding to the complaints against Anderson.
“If you're going to be accused of something, you have a right to know about and provide a reasonable defense on that, especially before its made public,” Anderson said of the complaint, noting that he was not aware of it being renewed until the complaint was sent to the media.
“The reason why Rob Anderson says he wasn't involved in the process is that he didn't know the investigation was resumed,” Horlacher said. “They just used his initial response to the charges to resume the investigation because they knew they would not get anything different from him.”
The accusation against Anderson in 2015 involved defamation of character, threats being made and behavior unbecoming of an officer of the Davis County GOP.
The Davis County GOP details the allegations in a blog post, here.
Anderson's attorney has responded to the allegations, see the letter below for details: