Lawsuit Alleges Political Operatives Fixed Local Election
Idaho Falls, Idaho, January 2018 – A lawsuit has been filed against a number of local political operatives accusing them of manipulating the election of new officers of the Bonneville County Republican Women’s organization to ensure their hand-picked candidates won.
The plaintiff, Diane Jensen, alleges in a lawsuit filed late last month in Seventh District Court that Stephanie Mickelsen, Amy Taylor and Nathan Olsen, among others, broke the organization’s by-laws and conspired to prevent new members of the organization from voting for nominees they didn’t favor.
The suit claims that the defendants even went so far as to allow the Chair of the Bonneville County Democrats, Miranda Marquit, to join the organization and vote in the election while telling at least fifteen registered Republican women that they could not vote.
Mickelsen, a long time self-proclaimed political activist, and Taylor, a local aide for Senator Jim Risch (R-Idaho) have long been at odds with local Republican leadership.
Mickelsen lost her position as the chair of the Legislative District 33 Republicans and her seat on the Bonneville County Republican Central Committee in 2016, although she recently regained her seat on the central committee where she unsuccessfully sought to overthrow its leadership.
Taylor unsuccessfully attempted to have all Bonneville County delegates unseated at the 2016 state Republican convention, and soon after was forced to resign her seat on the state central committee.
The suit alleges that Mickelsen, who at the time was the President of the organization, and other members of its presiding executive board drafted new rules favoring a slate of handpicked nominees, and kept several new members from voting they feared would support opposing candidates.
The new rules allowed some new members, including the hand-picked nominees, to participate, while preventing many others from the same privileges.
Taylor who served as a Vice President of the group, openly admitted that the rules were intended to keep new members from determining who should lead the organization.
“We can’t just have people walk in the door and sign up on the day of election and become President of the Republican women,” said Taylor.
On the day of the election, Mickelsen assigned a male lawyer, Nathan Olsen, as “parliamentarian,” who took over the meeting.
During the meeting, Olsen shouted down several members, not only telling them that they weren’t allowed to vote, but that they could not even speak during the meeting.
The meeting became so contentious, that even one of the hand-picked nominees withdrew her name from consideration in the election.
Under Mickelsen, the organization was seeing declining membership and participation.
The suit asks that a local judge invalidate the election results, and that a new election be held with restrictions to make sure it is fair.
Suit was filed December 16, 2018.
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