‘The Rundown’: Utah GOP leaders embroiled in drama over party rule change

Party secretary stripped rule change from a meeting agenda in apparent defiance of Chair Carson Jorgensen

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Utah GOP leaders embroiled in drama over party rules

A fight about rules and deadlines has engulfed the Utah GOP’s State Central Committee.

Some backstory: In 2018, a small group of dissidents on the SCC dubbed the “Gang of 51″ were so opposed to allowing signature-gathering candidates, they forced through a rule change to kick those who took that route out of the party. If the GOP had followed through, it could have kicked all Republicans off the ballot that year or forced them to run as independents because it violated state law.

The party decided not to enforce the bylaw, but it’s still on the books. There have been several attempts to repeal the possibly illegal bylaw, but they failed. At the SCC’s quarterly meeting on Saturday, members again will vote on a proposed repeal.

This brings us to the current kerfuffle.

When it was time to send the notice for the meeting, party secretary, Olivia Dawn, took it upon herself to remove the bylaw repeal from the agenda. According to emails obtained by The Tribune, Jorgensen discovered the omission and sent out a corrected agenda with the agenda item just one minute before the deadline.

In a lengthy letter to SCC members, Dawn doubled down on her decision, arguing the rule change was submitted after a deadline spelled out in the party’s rules.

“When I was elected to be the UTGOP Secretary, I promised the delegates, and all of you, that I would uphold our Party Documents. I intend to stand by that promise,” she wrote.

Dawn, who was in Washington, D.C. on the U.S. Capitol grounds during the attempted insurrection on January 6, is the daughter of Teena Horlacher, one of the hardliners behind the rule change in question.

Dawn’s letter drew a blistering multi-page rebuttal from the party’s Constitution and Bylaw Committee, the group responsible for placing the bylaw repeal on the agenda. They accused Dawn of willfully undermining Jorgensen, as she does not have the authority to decide what is on the schedule unilaterally.

“Blatant refusal to send the Chair’s agenda and sending her own agenda at the last moment...are unquestionable abuses of her position. Parliamentary theatrics alienate, intimidate, and exhaust SCC members and delegates. We expect better of party leaders,” they wrote.

Here’s what you need to know for Wednesday morning

Utah news

➡️ Utah Jazz stars Joe Ingles, and Donovan Mitchell reached out to the mother of Izzy Tichenor, a 10-year-old girl who died by suicide after being bullied. They vowed to do everything they could to stop a similar strategy from happening again. [Tribune]

🪂 Intermountain Healthcare will use drones to deliver medications and home care equipment to patients’ homes next year [Tribune]

⚽️ A group that includes David Blitzer is reportedly nearing the purchase of Real Salt Lake. Blitzer has an ownership stake in NBA, NHL, and soccer clubs in Europe. [Tribune]

National news

🚨 Former President Donald Trump repeatedly defended the mob of his supporters who attacked the U.S. Capitol and threatened to “hang” former Vice President Mike Pence. [Axios]

⚖️ An appeals court temporarily blocked the release of records from the Trump White House to the House committee investigating January 6. The court is fast-tracking arguments in the case for the end of the month. [WaPo]

🏛 The House committee investigating January 6 threatened former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows with criminal contempt charges if he does not show up for a deposition on Monday. [Politico]

🏗 The White House says President Biden’s $1.85 trillion spending plan, which is currently on hold in the Senate, will help curb inflation. [NYT]

🦠 Rising numbers of COVID cases in the Mountain West and northeast have experts worried another wave could happen this winter. [AP]

💉 Health officials are pushing to expand the availability of COVID-19 booster shots to all adults. [WaPo]

☎️  President Joe Biden will hold a virtual summit meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping on Monday. [CNN]

🗳 Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski announced she will run for re-election in 2022. Former President Trump has vowed to back a challenger against her. [The Hill]

⚖️ The defense in the Kyle Rittenhouse murder trial rested its case. Closing arguments are Monday. [AP]

Friday morning’s Utah news roundup


  • Utah movie lovers can see free movies, get ticket discounts for 2022 Sundance Film Festival. [Tribune]

  • Ski season in Utah closer to ‘normal’ this year, even as pandemic continues. [Fox 13]

  • Prescriptions to fall from Utah’s skies next year, with new drone deliveries. [Tribune]

  • Appeals court brings back excessive force lawsuit against officer who killed Patrick Harmon. [Tribune]

  • Utah doctor accused of lying to get helicopter rescue in Alaska. [Tribune]

  • Utah veterans honored for their service and sacrifice. [Fox 13]

Salt Lake City

  • Woman flying to SLC fined $24,000 for refusing to wear mask, assaulting crewmembers. [Fox 13]


  • When a bullied Utah girl commits suicide, it can’t just be a passing tragedy, Tribune Editorial Board writes. [Tribune]

  • Marion Bishop: I’m an ER doctor, and here’s why I’m vaccinating my children. [Tribune]

  • Nick Sargent: Utah’s winter outdoor industry needs more climate action from PacifiCorp. [Tribune]

  • Opinion: A gondola is the wrong choice for Little Cottonwood Canyon. [Deseret News]

  • Opinion: Let’s honor the many Native Americans who served their country. [Deseret News]

🎂 You say it’s your birthday?!!

Happy birthday on Sunday to former Utah state Rep. Dixon Pitcher.

Got a birthday you’d like us to recognize in this space? Send us an email - TheRundown@sltrib.com.

— Tribune reporter Jordan Miller contributed to this report.