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Rolly: Will black Republican group lose its seat at Utah GOP's main table?

Published April 28, 2017 4:49 pm
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2017, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

A recent attempt by the Utah County Republican Party to bar elected officials from running for seats on the state GOP's Central Committee was foiled when legislators in the county filed to run — as a protest.

Now there may be new targets: auxiliary organizations within the party. Some Republicans say the Black Republican Assembly is being scrutinized.

Lisa Shepard, the state GOP's secretary and a longtime Republican stalwart in Utah County, had discussions recently with state GOP Chairman James Evans about reviewing the status of auxiliary organizations that qualify for membership on the Central Committee, the party's governing body.

Evans, who is African-American, said in response to my inquiry that a question came up about the Black Republican Assembly and whether it has the required 25 members to qualify for a seat.

Shepard told me the black assembly was not being singled out. She said all auxiliaries are to be reviewed to ensure they are following party bylaws and remain active, and if any need mentoring. Any insinuation of a racist bent is false, she assured.

The head of the Black Republican Assembly is Daryl Acumen, former vice chairman of the Utah County Republican Party, who has had run-ins with party bosses in the past and is not afraid to make waves.

Acumen has been a vocal critic on GOP social media of the party's relentless attempts to undo the state law that allows different paths for a candidate to reach the primary ballot.

GOP purists insist the party should decide who is eligible for the ballot. They want the nominating process to rest solely with the caucus-convention system, with no alternative path by gathering petition signatures.

Acumen has called the GOP lawsuits to overturn the state law a monumental waste of money. He notes the Black Republican Assembly has more than 60 members of varied racial origins, not just blacks.

Guv wannabe? • When U.S. Rep. Jason Chaffetz announced he would not run for re-election or compete for any office in 2018, he noted he might be interested in running for governor in 2020.

Does that mean the Utah Republican would be going for a second term?

Those who remember the days when Chaffetz was chief of staff to Gov. Jon Huntsman (the actual elected governor) know he acted as though he was the top dog and insisted he be the one to talk to about policy issues or pending legislation.

Several legislators complained privately at the time that they couldn't get an appointment with Huntsman to talk about their legislative agendas because Chaffetz stood in the way, maintaining they talk to him.

He also took it upon himself to bring armed guards to a meeting with several dozen veteran employees of the state economic development office where they were informed that they were laid off immediately and escorted off the premises.

Chaffetz lasted in that job less than a year, stepping down for opportunities in the private sector.

Word at the time was that his decision was aided by staff complaints to Huntsman that Chaffetz was too dictatorial and needed to go.

International experience • Another possibility for Chaffetz, once he leaves office, is that of ambassador to Libya. After all, who knows more about Benghazi than Jason?

A senior moment? • Delegates to the Salt Lake County Republican Convention were treated to a speech from 83-year-old U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch, whose 40 years in the Senate make him the longest-serving Republican senator in history, and as president pro tempore in the Senate, third in line to the presidency.

Hatch, who has indicated he will run for an eighth term despite his declaration in 2012 that this term would be his last, talked to the convention about the importance of him staying another six years.

When he wrapped up, he seemed confused about where he was going. He walked in one direction to leave the stage until the agents in his security detail appeared on the other side. He then changed direction and walked off with them behind a curtain in the back.

Tied for last • WalletHub, an online consumer research service, has conducted a study ranking the states when it comes to gambling addiction.

Not surprisingly, Utah ranked 48th.

One curiosity is that Utah ranked 41st in the number of casinos per capita and 43rd in gaming machines.

Utah has neither.

Diana Pope, WalletHub's communications director, says being ranked 43rd and 41st essentially means tied for last in those categories. Nine states don't have casinos; seven have no gaming machines.







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