For more than three hours, 30 members of the El Paso County Republican Party met behind closed doors to discuss the fate of the party secretary and vice-chairman.
At least, that’s what we all assume; no one knows.
They could have been discussing the weather — which was drizzly, as the dozens of supporters of Sarah Anderson who showed up last night knew firsthand. The county chairman, Eli Bremer, said he was strictly enforcing adherence to fire code when many of the Republicans who showed up were forced to wait outside the building.
While the executive session lasted more than three hours, the full meeting itself began at 5:30 in the evening, and didn't go into it's private session until after 7 p.m.
At 11:30, the meeting broke, and the executive committee members hurried out to their cars. Bremer stayed behind and fielded questions from the 40 or so Republicans and supporters of Anderson (recognizable by their "I Support Sarah!" stickers worn on their shirts) who stayed behind.
The mantra repeated over and over by Bremer was that he could not divulge any details from the executive session: "The meeting was held in executive session, and all in attendance agreed that the proceedings of the meeting as well as the outcome would be kept confidential. This was agreed upon unanimously by all members of the executive committee, that we would not discuss what came out of the executive session of the party."
“One hundred percent of the executive committee members. One hundred percent, without exception, supported that they wanted to keep the entirety of the proceedings private. And that is their decision to make,” he said. “I can’t even discuss why that was, unfortunately. It was the first vote we took, and we reconfirmed it at the end of the meeting."
"Didn't we have a couple elected officials in here, wouldn't that make it a requirement for the Sunshine Law?" which would not allow the meeting to be closed to the public, asked Kanda Calef, a local activist.
"I am not an attorney. I am not the right person to ask," he responded.
Can you say whether or not a decision was made? a reporter asked about the fate of Anderson.
"I believe that there will be a unified position," Bremer answered, "and that the party will move forward in winning elections in 2012."
Josh Westerlund, who organized the Facebook movement to support Anderson, asked: "How do you propose to reach out to the grassroots when you don't allow us a seat at the table? This is not reaching out to the grassroots. This is pushing the grassroots out and away. There were a lot of really mad people who did not hang around. What happened tonight, regardless of whatever outcome you came to, was wrong. You cut us out and left us out in the cold."
"I am sorry that you feel that way, but that doesn't change our obligation that organization has to keep matters that need to stay private, private," Bremer responded. Later, he added: “The nature of where we are trying to move the party is by trying to activate the grassroots."
Unprompted, Bremer veered into the unusual by explaining the measures he had to take to provide security for the meeting. It drew a cackle from the crowd. "Completely laughable."
He continued: "We are 100 percent committed to your safety and security."
There was a sheriff's deputy present.
"Eli," Westerlund asked. "Who was threatened?"
"The environment that we function in today is a very complicated environment," he replied. "Within the past couple weeks there was a very serious security incident at a political office and it was not an activist. It was much more in line with what we've seen. There are people who are gravitating to large group meetings that have nothing to do with the cause that is being talked about."
Calef said that the meeting was shocking. "I can't believe that in America we let something like that happen last night. When you close the door on debate, you are closing the door on America. And that is really scary to me."
She is on Grassroots Radio right now (Friday 5 pm - 7 pm) to discuss the meeting.
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