Grays Harbor Insiders complete political assassination of newly elected chairman
Beth DeVaul ran against Michael Thompson for Chair at the Grays Harbor [County] Republican Party organization meeting in January, where Thompson won.
Something important just happened, and you may have missed it. Of course, with all of the goings on in the WSRP lately, it’s no wonder! We have the Republican Liberty Caucus of Washington imploding and the WSRP State Committee voting to cancel the 2014 Convention. Add to that the recent scandals that President Obama and his administration are involved in, and of course your attention was diverted! But there was Washington State Republican blood on the floor in May.
On May 7, 2013 the Grays Harbor Republican Party underwent a planned coup. I bet you hadn’t heard that!
According to Reagan Wing sources, one Mr. Chris Lowder (immediate previous Grays Harbor Vice Chair under immediate previous Chair, Mrs. Lowder) introduced a motion to remove the duly elected Chairman, Michael Thompson, at the regularly scheduled GHRP Central Committee meeting.
A motion to overturn an election is a straightforward “motion to reconsider.” Nothing illegal about that. Unless empowered by some special bylaw, however, it just has to be proposed by someone who voted FOR Mr. Thompson in January AND carry a 2/3 majority to pass. Did Mr. Lowder vote for Thompson in January?
But that isn’t the only problem for Mr. Lowder and his coup. According to Reagan Wing sources, Mr. Lowder presented quite a list of reasons for wanting Chairman Thompson removed. And, although some of the reasons seem to this author, absurd (things like no Grays Harbor County attendees at the Kirby Wilbur Spring Gala, and Chairman Thompson’s involvement with the March Against Monsanto, and a supposed lack of appointed committee chairs – in a county with only 36 Precinct Committee Officers, total), there are more serious allegations, such as the claim Chairman Thompson is verbally abusive toward women…Yup, you read that right. [Ed note: Various iterations of this charge, including “harasses women,” “stalks women,” “abuses women” have been used repeatedly – at least since 2005 – by the GOP left, most notably in the King County administrations of Michael Young and Lori Sotelo, but exported to other counties, to slander conservative activists. No verifiable evidence for such charges has ever been presented.]
And that charge raises a serious problem… for Mr. Lowder. Because the Republican Rules affecting charges of misconduct are strict and no motion based on a charge of misconduct can be brought until the target of those charges
- has been given adequate notice
- has had an opportunity to read the charges,
- face and cross examine witnesses against him and
- bring evidence and a defense… PRIVATELY.
It is improper to even mention the allegations openly until such an investigation is completed. “… if disciplinary action is to be taken, charges must be preferred and a formal trial held before the assembly of the society, or before a committee – standing or special – which should be required to report its findings and recommendations to the assembly for action.” [RONR (11th ed.) p. 649 ll. 21-26; Grays Harbor County Republican Party Bylaws Article XI, Section 1 ]
Needless to say, since the “abuses women” allegation is potentially slanderous, and since it requires completing a thorough and impartial investigation FIRST one would expect that any competent person bringing such a charge would have some really hard evidence… but it doesn’t appear that any was presented.
The meat of this allegation was nothing more than a hearsay allegation by the woman seeking to overturn the election so she could personally replace him.
Chairman Thompson allegedly was having a private phone conversation with his failed January opponent, Grays Harbor GOP Vice-Chair Beth DeVaul, when an issue about a Grays Harbor County Commissioner was brought up. DeVaul apparently alleged that Chairman Thompson said, “If anyone brings that up again, I’m going to take this gavel and shove it up their ass.”
Chairman Thompson agreed to submit to interviews about the allegations. (I’d like to clarify that I do not know Chairman Thompson beyond what is common knowledge and through my interviews with him for this article.) Thompson doesn’t deny that a conversation took place during which the Commissioner was discussed, nor that he had been frustrated by the issue, but he emphatically denies the vulgarity Ms DeVaul verbalized (apparently without difficulty) during the coup. That Ms. DeVaul’s allegations were self-serving goes without saying, that springing them in a surprise attack is unethical is obvious. According to Reagan Wing sources, no further evidence of any alleged “abuse” was presented.
After Mr. Lowder’s laundry list of (seemingly petty) complaints was presented to the Central Committee, was Chairman Thompson finally allowed to answer these accusations (as the rules require)? I should have hoped so, but no.
Chairman Thompson, at that point, stepped down as Chairman of the meeting only, as is required when there is a vote directly involving a meeting chair. Unfortunately for the credibility of the coup, that duty then went to Vice-Chair DeVaul, who was also directly involved. But Ms. De Vaul did NOT step down, and instead, effectively prevented Mr. Thompson from making a defense (!!!)
He never got a chance.
As soon as Chairman Thompson relinquished the gavel, one of the coup supporters moved to close debate. No such motion is in order when a person’s character has been called into question. They have to have a defense. Not even a unanimous vote can take away their right to a defense. But the person then holding the gavel was DeVaul, the very person making the allegations. She did not call the motion out of order. She did not even do as was required had the motion been IN ORDER and hold a vote on whether or not to close debate. Had she held such a vote (and had it been legal) it would have required a 2/3 majority. Instead, DeVaul called for a voice vote to remove Chairman Thompson, declared that the “ayes” had it, and appointed a Sergeant-At-Arms to escort the Chairman to the GHRP office to remove his personal belongings.
- The motion to remove Thompson, based on uninvestigated, undefended charges of improper conduct was illegal.
- The acceptance of the position of meeting chair by the maker of the charges was illegal.
- The motion to close debate was, itself illegal.
- Closing debate without voting on the motion to close debate was illegal.
- And all the votes, above, had they occurred legally, would have required a 2/3 majority.
None of the coup’s moves was legal, none of them had a 2/3 majority, none legally took place.
The alleged Beth DeVaul administration of the Grays Harbor Republican Party has not responded to requests for interviews or any other communication. I would have liked to review the minutes and any other pertinent materials. I also would have liked to have had a chance to talk directly with Vice-Chair DeVaul in particular but there is no contact information on their official website. I have submitted a request for them to contact me via their website, with no response. [Ed Note: Beth DeVaul is the sister-in-law of Grays Harbor Democrat Chair George Smylie, and until approximately 2008 was a self-described Democrat.]
One can only speculate about the reasons for this coup, or what Mr. Lowder may have gained in deposing a properly elected Chairman, but one thing seems clear: The Grays Harbor Chairman was removed through grossly improper procedures, without even a chance to defend himself against accusations made by one individual. The basic American right of due process was denied to Chairman Thompson. We must all be watchful in our own counties to ensure that this doesn’t happen to anyone else.
The Reagan Wing will be providing updates on this should any new information become available or if we are allowed to opportunity to speak with Vice Chair DeVaul.