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Rolly: Davis County GOP run by an outsider? Holy Ronald Reagan

Published July 2, 2014 7:44 am

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Davis County Republican Chairman Phill Wright, who is conducting what some are calling a witch hunt against the party secretary because she signed the Count My Vote petition, has not been a registered Republican the entire time of his chairmanship.

That, under the party's bylaws, makes him ineligible to serve as a party officer and even vote in a Republican primary. It brings into question the legitimacy of all the party executive committee meetings he has conducted since being elected chairman.

Wright found out he was officially listed as an unaffiliated voter when he went to his polling location to vote in the Republican primary on June 24.

He says he always has been a registered Republican, carries a voter I.D. card in his wallet listing him as a registered Republican and the fact he was listed as unaffiliated was a technical error based on state law that party officials say needs to be changed.

Wright was a registered Republican when he voted in the GOP primary in 2012. But the Davis County party was making a big push that year to get voters to vote by mail, and when he filled out his vote-by-mail form for the 2012 general election, he didn't realize he needed to check the Republican Party box to identify his party affiliation.

Davis County Elections Manager Brian McKenzie says that when a party affiliation box is not checked, the law requires the county clerk to list that voter as unaffiliated.

So Wright was officially unaffiliated when he was elected party chairman last year.

Meanwhile, Wright has been in a battle with the Davis County party's secretary, Kathleen Anderson, over ideological differences. Anderson signed the Count My Vote petition that would have put a proposed change in the candidate selection process on the ballot.

The Davis County Republican Party, under Wright's leadership, donated $17,000 to anti-Count My Vote efforts before the petition drive became moot when the Legislature passed a compromise bill providing two paths to a primary election ballot.

The Davis County party also has passed a resolution urging the preservation of the current caucus/convention nominating system.

Wright and Anderson have gotten into verbal altercations in the party's executive committee meetings over that issue and Wright questioned in a meeting whether signing the petition should disqualify someone from being a party officer.

At the executive committee meeting on May 8, the last item on the agenda was listed as "Executive Session."

When committee members got to that agenda item, Wright instructed Anderson to turn off her tape recorder and stop taking minutes.

The committee members then went on the attack against Anderson and one member made a motion to empower Wright to create a special committee to investigate her to determine if she should be removed as party secretary, according to sources in the meeting.

The committee is scheduled to issue its report at the July 10 executive committee meeting and many Republicans predict it will find that she has to be removed because it was all a setup in the first place.

Wright declined to comment on "any matter that is discussed in the executive committee."

But the whole exercise taken so far against Anderson is in direct violation of the party's bylaws, which spell out specifically what behavior justifies removal from office and how that removal should be executed.

In fact, tea party activist Don Guymon reportedly said at the same meeting that appointing a committee was the best way to proceed, "because this way we can take action directly under Robert's Rules of Order and we can avoid allowing any appeal to the central committee."

Republican sources point out the irony of a Republican chairman who has been ineligible to be a party officer under the most basic rules of the party is now making up new rules to oust someone he disagrees with, alleging she has not been a good Republican.

prolly@sltrib.com