State halts GOP meet­ing

Fac­tions war over Broward chair­man

Sun Sentinel Palm Beach Edition - - LOCAL - By An­thony Man Staff writer

The Broward Re­pub­li­can Party came to­gether Wed­nes­day night — and re­mained far apart, frac­tured by two camps that con­tinue to scheme against each other rather than or­ga­nize for crit­i­cal 2018 elec­tions.

More than 100 Repub­li­cans as­sem­bled for the event at De­icke Au­di­to­rium in Plan­ta­tion, with the pas­sion­ate party mem­bers watched over by three city po­lice of­fi­cers.

One of the party’s fac­tions as­sem­bled enough sup­port for Wed­nes­day’s spe­cial meet­ing of com­mit­teemen and com­mit­tee­women from across the county, with the ob­jec­tive of re­mov­ing county Re­pub­li­can Chair­man Bob Sut­ton.

But the Re­pub­li­can Party of Flor­ida, which has been re­ceiv- ing com­plaints from and about both sides in the Broward civil war, in­ter­vened.

“On be­half of the RPOF, this meet­ing is not a le­gal meet­ing. No Re­pub­li­can busi­ness will be trans­acted here to­day,” said J.C. Martin, par­lia­men­tar­ian for the state party. “This is a bla­tant case of an il­le­gal meet­ing. Mr. Chair­man, close this down.”

Martin, who is also chair­man of the Polk County Re­pub­li­can Party, said he was dis­patched to Broward by Blaise In­goglia, chair­man of the state Re­pub­li­can Party.

Broward Repub­li­cans have gone through many cy­cles of in­ter­nal fight­ing in re­cent years, but tur­moil has reached new heights in 2017.

“To­tally ridicu­lous,” was the as­sess­ment Wed­nes­day evening from Clarence McKee, a long­time Re­pub­li­can com­mit­tee­man who worked as an ad­vance man for Ron­ald Rea­gan’s

pres­i­den­tial cam­paign and later worked in the Rea­gan ad­min­is­tra­tion. “Ridicu­lous, de­bil­i­tat­ing, and makes them all laugh­ing­stocks.”

Broward Repub­li­cans learned over the La­bor Day week­end, more than five weeks ago, that Ru­pert Tarsey, the party sec­re­tary they elected in May, has a vi­o­lent crim­i­nal past.

Ten years ago, when Tarsey was a stu­dent at an ex­clu­sive pri­vate high school in Cal­i­for­nia, he beat a young wo­man with a claw ham­mer. The crim­i­nal case ended with a sen­tence of pro­ba­tion. Tarsey changed his name, moved to Flor­ida and got in­volved in the Don­ald Trump pres­i­den­tial cam­paign and lo­cal Re­pub­li­can pol­i­tics.

But the item up for dis­cus­sion Wed­nes­day was an at­tempt to re­move Sut­ton. A fac­tion that in­cludes Tarsey ac­cused Sut­ton of in­com­pe­tence, and got the sig­na­tures of 20 per­cent of the com­mit­teemen and com­mit­tee­women to go along with a spe­cial meet­ing.

Martin said Tarsey couldn’t pro­vide ev­i­dence that party mem­bers had been given suf­fi­cient no­tice, and said the gath­er­ing couldn’t pro­ceed.

Tarsey said he didn’t know whether there would be an­other move against Sut­ton. Michael Kane, the Tarsey ally who made the mo­tion to re­move Sut­ton, said he did not want to com­ment.

Sut­ton, whose at­tempt to sus­pend Tarsey as sec­re­tary when his back­ground came to light was over­turned, said he didn’t know what would hap­pen re­gard­ing Tarsey or at­tempts to oust him.

“I’m look­ing for this in­san­ity to go away and I’m look­ing to get Repub­li­cans elected,” Sut­ton said.

But there’s no in­di­ca­tion that will hap­pen. The bad blood has en­gulfed the ef­fort to find a re­place­ment for Sharon Day, who re­signed as Broward’s state com­mit­tee­woman at the end of Au­gust be­cause she is the new U.S. am­bas­sador to Costa Rica.

As state com­mit­tee­woman 21 years, Day was a steady­ing force in the lo­cal party, a leader in the state Re­pub­li­can Party and served as the na­tional Re­pub­li­can Party sec­re­tary and as co-chair­woman, the No. 2 na­tional of­fi­cial. Her pres­ence had pro­vided a sig­nif­i­cant mea­sure of sta­bil­ity to the party’s op­er­a­tion and her de­par­ture from the Broward group’s board lifted the lid on the sim­mer­ing ten­sions.

Michele Mer­rell of Fort Laud­erdale and Diana Taub of Pem­broke Pines have said they are run­ning to re­place Day. Their con­test took a nasty turn this week when an anony­mous email re­ported that one of Mer­rill’s sup­port­ers is a “rag­ing ho­mo­sex­ual,” and Repub­li­cans should vote in­stead for a “Chris­tian” for the job. Taub said Wed­nes­day that she had been blind­sided by the email, and dis­avowed it.

Jack Ma­jeske, a long­time com­mit­tee­man and past pres­i­dent of the Broward Log Cabin Repub­li­cans, which has many LGBT mem­bers, said the in­fight­ing is mak­ing it dif­fi­cult to elect Repub­li­cans lo­cally.

“If this doesn’t end, we should dis­solve the Re­pub­li­can Party in Broward be­cause we will be go­ing NOWHERE,” he said by email. “This con­stant in­fight­ing is a JOKE. How the hell are we sup­posed to elect Repub­li­cans?”

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