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S.L. County GOP to begin probe

Was right wing blackballed for delegate slots?

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The Salt Lake County Republican Party will conduct an internal investigation into how some state GOP delegates from the county were chosen this year.

County Vice Chairman Jesse Riddle said he will take a look at accusations raised by Mike Ridgway and his Republicans for Electoral Fairness. County officials certify to the state party who state delegates are and fill, through a series of complicated rules, any open delegate slots not filled through voting in March party mass meetings.

Wednesday night at a county executive-committee meeting, which dragged on until midnight, Ridgway and other executive committee members complained that certain local party officers — such as precinct chairs and central committee members — should have been given open state delegate slots, but weren't.

Members of his group and "other conservatives" were specifically blackballed from the open delegates slots, Ridgway charges.

He goes further to say that county computer databases were specifically altered so that some people were "tracked" and their names on party lists highlighted to show that they shouldn't get state delegate credentials.

After the resignations of the county chair, vice chair and other openings in 2000, the Salt Lake County GOP has new leaders.

And Riddle, an attorney, said he wasn't interested in dealing with personalities who may have tried to keep some people out of open delegate posts. Instead, party officials will look at the party constitution and bylaws to see if internal party rules were followed.

"If they weren't, then we're going to make sure" the rules are followed in the future and/or new rules are written so the same problems don't occur again, said Riddle.

Former county GOP leaders said several months ago their volunteer staff put out a list of delegates in response to Republican candidates who wanted to start contacting delegates. Some of Ridgway's supporters — like citizen activist Janalee Tobias — were on that original state delegate list.

But just before the official state delegate lists for the May 6 state GOP convention went out, along with convention registration material and credentials, Tobias and others found out they were not state delegates after all. They protested, but it did no good. They were not allowed to officially participate in the state convention.

Ridgway said the "contentious" meeting Wednesday night tells him "things may not be changing in the county party. But we're not going away" and will continue to examine how the party operates and who is responsible. "We are not one big happy family" even though new county party officers have been selected, said Ridgway.


E-mail: bbjr@desnews.com