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Hazel resigns from GOP central committee

by Steve Cameron Staff Writer
| July 28, 2017 1:00 AM

President Trump has changed the daily scuffle of politics by turning Twitter into a weapon.

Out here in Kootenai County, there may not be any political power tweets, but insiders are watching “The Great Email War.”

Christa Hazel, a well-known player in local Republican circles, caused an uproar Wednesday night with an email debate involving Brent Regan, chairman of the Kootenai County Republican Central Committee.

After a thousand-plus words exchanged by each side — most about committee procedures and even references to Robert's Rules of Order — Hazel submitted her resignation as a precinct committee person within the KCRCC.

Even 24 hours after the email marathon, some members of the KCRCC didn't understand quite what had happened.

Or why.

“I didn't see anything at our Tuesday night meeting that would even start to qualify as an issue between Christa Hazel and the chairman,” said Tim Kastning, a committee member.

Duane Rasmussen, another member who sat next to Hazel, said her only frustration on Tuesday seemed to be the lack of a roll call vote on a particular resolution.

“I felt the same way,” Rasmussen said. “We both have advocated transparency in committee action. But it didn't seem like something that would make you walk away.”

So why did Hazel resign?

“This wasn't about one issue or one meeting,” Hazel said Thursday. “The committee now has basically been taken over by far-right conservatives.

“The chairman is supposed to be the referee, allowing debate and discussion according to a set of rules. But more and more, his decisions lined up with the conservatives and shut down opinions from more moderate Republicans.”

For his part, Regan agreed with the referee analogy — but he strongly denied favoring any side in debate over issues.

What's more, he claimed Hazel's resignation could not become official until the committee's next meeting, and he would welcome her back if she reconsidered her decision.

“We're at our best when we have lively debate and honest differences of opinion,” Regan said.

“Christa is extremely sharp and makes excellent points. She has helped form opinion in the committee.”

So, Mr. Chairman, why did this valuable member of the KCRCC bail out?

“Honestly, I think this may have started with discussion over a topic at an earlier meeting (debate over the Riverstone transit center),” Regan said.

“Christa spoke at some length, and then another member had the floor. Christa wanted to rebut something that was said, but the rules state that if you are going to speak more than once, you have to go last.

“But before we got around to Christa speaking again, somebody called the question (asked for a vote), so she never got a chance.”

Hazel indicated the transit center discussion was frustrating, but had nothing to do with her resignation.

“The issues are a lot larger than that,” Hazel said. “My (email) exchange with the chairman was just the tipping point.

“I've become frustrated with this series of meaningless resolutions about world affairs — we actually debated a course of action for the country of Turkey — when our residents and voters, the Republicans we're supposed to represent, need direction on issues that affect Idaho.

“The organization is called the Kootenai County Republican Central Committee for a reason. But we're sitting in meetings, listening to speakers talking about NATO. This last meeting, we had a totally confusing resolution about Russia.

“Maybe that's the message the conservatives and our Redoubt members want to tell the world. But I think our discussions should focus on issues closer to home.

“When you submit a resolution and it goes down, you're called a whiner and a complainer.

“I just think there is a Republican group doing good work that is much more in tune with my feelings and my beliefs. It could be the North Idaho Political Action Committee (NIPAC).

“Maybe I'll find more of the people who have been nicknamed RRs — 'Reasonable Republicans.'”