My Fellow Republicans,
The motto of the United States Air Force Academy is “Integrity First, Service Before Self, Excellence in All We Do.” I accepted that motto many decades ago as a cadet and have adhered to it ever since – including my tenure as the delegate-elected Chairman of the UTGOP.
In 2014, when the Utah Legislature enacted SB54, a signature path to the primary election ballot was created. Since that time, a small but vocal faction within the UTGOP has opposed the signature path, and has pushed to punish candidates who collect signatures. This small faction has forced multiple lawsuits and appeals in an effort to eliminate the signature path. All have failed. During the second lawsuit, the Utah Supreme Court ruled that it is the candidate – not the Party – who has the option to select the signature path.
My term as Chairman has been overwhelmed by the dispute over SB54 and the optional path it allows. The United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit found this statute Constitutional, and the United States Supreme Court found that the 10th Circuit Court’s finding did not merit review.
Over a year ago, about the time that the 10th Circuit ruled that SB54 passed Constitutional muster, a small group within the Party’s State Central Committee (“SCC”) pushed through a bylaw they felt would set the ground work for yet another costly and divisive lawsuit over SB54. This bylaw was in direct conflict with the already declared Constitutional state law, SB54, and would have stripped the party membership of some (but not all) GOP candidates who collected signatures. The bylaw was ostensibly designed to create a new legal standoff with the hope of launching another lawsuit.
Whether flying F-15s, training young fighter pilots or leading the members of our party, I have consistently placed “Service Before Self.” In this instance, I asked myself the simple question: “What is best for our candidates, our party and our state?” I consulted the State Elections Office, legal counsel, as well as the Utah Senate and House Caucuses. It was unanimously determined the new bylaw was not in compliance with state law. Furthermore, it was believed the new bylaw could result in the State Elections Office decertifying the 2018 GOP candidates, as well as removing the designated Party affiliation from the November general election ballot.
While serving in the Air Force, I never followed, nor would have followed, an illegal order. I would not, and will not, do so now. The UTGOP’s governing documents provide for the nullification of illegal language. As such, I chose not to incorporate those changes, nor to forward them to the State Elections Office knowing the tremendous risk involved to our candidates.
As Republicans, we are the Party of the Rule of Law. Ronald Reagan explained the necessity of the Rule of Law:
“But liberty, without law, without legal safeguards is not and cannot be liberty in the long run. It becomes, instead, license, revolution, and anarchy. It leads, without qualification, to mob rule and from there to the rule of the many by the few. And these in turn establish or disestablish law as they see fit, or ignore the law and rule by fiat or edict.”
Where are we now? Three and one-half months ago, the faction within the Party that has refused to accept SB54, created a committee to conduct an “investigation” into my refusal to submit the illegal bylaw. Upon completion of their investigation, the committee denied me an opportunity to preview their report and prepare a response. Instead, at 9:30AM, Saturday, March 16th – 30 minutes prior to the meeting where their verdict and sentencing would be rendered – I was provided a copy of their 39 page report.
During the meeting, several motions were made to allow me time to read and respond to the investigative committee’s report. All were denied. The committee pushed the SCC to adopt all findings and sanctions without debate and/or deliberation. They also voted to lower the threshold for the SCC to oust me as Party Chair from 60% of the entire 187 member body to only 27 people! The ramifications of such an action will cause immeasurable detriment to the Party going forward.
These reckless actions are done despite this faction’s knowledge that SB54 enjoys overwhelming support among Republicans throughout the State – the very same Republicans they were elected to represent: YOU!
I ask all members of the UTGOP, at this time, to unite and elect leadership that will uphold the Rule of Law. The same Rule of Law that our Party espouses. The choice is clear: unity and order versus anarchy and division. Now is the time for choosing.
As for me, I will continue to let the Academy’s simple motto guide my life, “Integrity First, Service Before Self, Excellence in All We Do.” Please join me.
Rob Anderson, Chairman
Utah Republican Party