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OPINION: Rules, rules, rules!

by MARY SOUZA/Uncanceled and Unfiltered
| January 18, 2023 1:00 AM

Rules are a stealth method of control and influence. They are often used by unelected people to manipulate the action of laws because laws can only be created or changed by the legislature.

In my last column, I warned you about the Idaho GOP winter meeting in Boise on Jan. 6, where the GOP Rules Committee was set to vote on some outrageous proposed rules. The committee eventually amended the extreme rules that would have taken away many of your votes in the Primary, made some new voters wait up to 25 months after registering before qualifying to vote as a Republican, and remove key delegates on the State GOP Central Committee from important support groups like Republican Women, College Republicans, and Young Republicans.

Their threat of overreaching rules has not gone away, however, as they “tabled” some rules to hold over to the GOP Summer meeting, and cut back other rules to be slightly less terrible yet still restrict your rights. Stay tuned, it is never ending fun!

I want you to know about the rules and what the State GOP, and possibly your county central committees, have been doing. It is important that you know because you elected them. You may not remember, but on your May Primary Election ballot, there was a race listed for your Precinct Committee person. Most people don’t notice and usually don’t know the people running, so it is often ignored. You must pay attention to this race. These are the people who will sit on your county central committee. Their decisions have a direct impact locally and at the state level.

Central committee members are the folks who vote for the party chairman, as well as delegates for the State GOP conventions, state meetings and the State GOP central committee — where they vote on rules. If you control who is elected as Precinct people, you can control the whole process all the way up to the State rules. Kootenai County Republican Central Committee chair, Brent Regan, and a few like-minded central committee chairs, are well aware of this control method and willing to exploit it for their agenda.

In addition, current leadership in many of our county central committees, and the State GOP, think you are too dumb and distracted to pay attention to any candidates. At their January meeting, they passed a rule to allow all central committees in the state to endorse and support the Republican candidates they select in each race of the Republican Primary election. That means they can withhold information about other non-endorsed Republican candidates and even campaign against them.

This action is a big change. It was long banned by the Idaho Republican Party because it was believed that YOU, the voters, should be given full information on all Republican primary candidates running for each office so YOU could choose the candidates to represent you in the General Election.

This long held tradition of respect for YOU, the voters, ended last year when Kootenai County GOP chose a “slate” of the endorsed candidates, only one per race, for the Primary and spent $160,000 to get their chosen list elected.

Where did that big money come from? From your ticket payment for the Lincoln Day dinner and from direct donations to the central committee. Another way of looking at it is that your donated money might have been used by your county Republican central committee to oppose a Republican candidate you supported. Be careful that your dollars are not used to take away your rights.

“The only thing necessary for evil to prevail is for good men to do nothing.” — Edmond Burke

Full disclosure: In February 2021, during my eighth year in the Idaho Senate, I announced I would retire at the end of that session to run for Secretary of State. I did not win. I am not unhappy because I have a wonderful life. But there will be personal attacks after these columns, as they try to deflect from what was done in that election and claim that taking away your full candidate information necessary. Of course there’s much more to tell, and I will do so in a future column. (That will be interesting!)

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Mary Souza, a Coeur d'Alene Republican, represented District 4 in the Idaho Senate for eight years from 2014 to 2022.

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