This is an archived article that was published on in 2016, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Utah County Republican officials refused to give an incumbent state senator the names of the delegates who would be voting to elect her until she agreed to sign a "fitness pledge" that the party requires of its candidates.

The refusal to provide the list to Sen. Deidre Henderson, R-Spanish Fork, for more than a week put her at a big disadvantage because it was impossible for her to meet with the delegates who will be choosing the party's nominee at the April 16 county convention.

County Chairman Craig Frank said the party was merely enforcing its rules when it refused to provide the list of delegates to Henderson. The bylaws require candidates to meet with the party steering committee and fill out a "fitness evaluation" before the county convention.

The bylaws don't state that failing to complete the form is grounds for withholding delegate lists, but it does allow the party to withdraw its support of a candidate or "take any other action consistent with this bylaw." Frank interpreted that to include withholding delegate lists.

Among other things, the pledge has the candidate promise to "maintain the highest degree of honesty, morality and integrity" and to "refrain from any conduct which would cause embarrassment to the party."

Further, it requires the candidate to vow, if nominated, he or she will not support any non-Republican candidates. If the candidate does support any non-Republican candidate, he or she "will be ineligible to run as a Republican during the next election cycle."

Henderson said she always planned to sign the fitness pledge, but she resented the party using the delegate lists as leverage.

"They're definitely using it as coercion," she said. "I have signed [the pledge] but I did not want to sign it as a prerequisite for getting the list, because there is nowhere in our party bylaws that stipulate that you have to sign the candidate fitness evaluation form prior to getting the delegate list. This is just something new that the party has come up with."

The party finally sent Henderson the list after other candidates who had not signed the party's fitness pledge were inadvertently sent their delegate lists.

One of those candidates who was accidentally given the list without signing the pledge was state Rep. Mike McKell, R-Spanish Fork, who has not signed paperwork, but said he will, although he added that simply signing a form doesn't make candidates "fit" to hold office.

"The pledge is silly. I don't think Utah County vets candidates. I think there are candidates who have significant problems and some of those problems have been brought to light … and Craig Frank and the Utah Republican Party have done absolutely nothing," McKell said. "If we're going to have a form that talks about fitness for office, if a candidate has a problem, the party has done literally nothing to address those concerns."

McKell said refusing to give the delegate lists to candidates ultimately means the delegates won't have an opportunity to adequately vet the candidates. In effect, "you've had the steering committee saying, 'We're more important than the delegates and the caucus system.' " Twitter: @RobertGehrke