Controversy Swirls around Ada County GOP
Party leadership wins vote not to pay party dues based on proxies and closed debate.
Ada County’s GOP meetings bring together precinct committeemen (PCs) from around Ada County to set policy and priorities for the party. The meeting on February 5 concerned the momentous question of whether Ada County GOP would pay its dues to the State GOP.
The State GOP provides services for the entire party—including voter identification apps and staff to help with intra-party complaints and enforcement of the party’s platform. To accomplish these tasks, the State Party raises funds on its own and it assesses dues based on a formula centered on registered Republican partisans. The more registered Republicans, the more the dues.
Ada County GOP ultimately voted not to pay its party assessment by a decisive margin, 77 to 55. As per party rule, if Ada does not fulfill its dues payment, its dues assessment will be spread across Ada delegate registration fees for the state convention. Either way, Ada cannot free ride on the state party.
This kerfuffle is part of the continuing war on Dorothy Moon’s chairmanship of the State Party. Ada County’s actions are meant to deprive Moon of some of the funds necessary to run the state party—and are designed to create an alternative power center in Ada County, headed by Victor Miller, Ada County GOP Chair.
Those are the goals. The means used to achieve the goals are also at issue.
Stories have broken about how Miller and his allies manufactured a majority against paying party dues. Miller has been Ada County Chair since 2020, when he did important work in the campaign to “Make Ada Great Again”—a movement to select PCs who would support activities to rein in Ada County’s extreme COVID lockdowns. Miller’s work also arrested the GOP’s decline in Ada County. Those PCs elected in 2020 have proven quite loyal to Miller.
Miller leverages this loyalty when crucial votes come around. At last Thursday’s meeting, for instance, Miller asked unreliable PCs or unimpressive PCs to stay home and let their alternates vote. Text messages leaked to Stop Idaho RINOs, for instance, show that Miller asked Doug Gross, a PC, to “let Ted Hill attend as your alternate during the next meeting. . . It would be best if you skipped that meeting. . .We can talk Tuesday if you wish. . . blessings, Vic.” Ted Hill, a sitting state representative, would oppose Ada County paying its dues. His prestige mattered more than the prestige of Doug Gross.
Stop Idaho RINOs had endorsed Hill in the past. It has since withdrawn its endorsement.
In other instances, Miller and allies asked both PCs and their alternates to stay home and to allow him or one of his allies to use their proxy vote. Travis Clyde, the second vice chairman of Ada County's GOP, for instance, started the evening with five proxy votes (according to sources), but he ended up with ten such votes after another PC who had proxy votes handed Clyde his proxy votes and then left the meeting. Such activities violate Ada County rules, which hold that a proxy has to be assigned to a specific other PC and it cannot be transferred to someone else once the meeting begins.
Perhaps Ada County PCs generally do not want to pay the party’s dues, though it is required by party rules. Perhaps most PCs would rather do something else besides attend boring meetings of the Ada County GOP. Miller and the Ada Establishment use this innate laziness to consolidate power over the party through the use of proxies.
Doug Gross may well have asked himself, why am I being asked not to attend the meeting? Yet he did not go. Perhaps that is a reflection of his trust for the current leadership.
Perhaps. But all PCs have a duty to attend meetings, to listen to arguments, and to use their independent judgment to decide what is best for the party. They are elected by their precicts, after all. Not being there creates the conditions for being manipulated and used. Does Doug Gross feel used? Do the others that know how systematically the proxy system is being used?
The larger question is whether Ada PCs will continue to miss meetings and grant proxies to the leadership. What looks like a democratic way of deciding can easily be transformed into an oligarchy. With a cabal sitting, unaccountable, at the top.