Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Ottawa County GOP Chaos: Meekhof + Huizenga Involved? What You Need To Know

With the controversial firing of Ottawa County GOP Executive Director Faith Steketee after a recent firestorm involving delegates to the state convention as well as a flyer promulgated by Rep. Bill Huizenga, State Sen. Arlan Meekhof, State Rep. Joe Haveman, and others, here are 13 points to help you catch up on what is happening.
Joe Haveman

1. The Ottawa County GOP Convention was held on Thursday, August 14.

2. An orange flyer was distributed advocating for the election of certain delegates to the state convention.

3. The flyer was backed by Rep. Bill Huizenga, State Senator Arlan Meekhof, and State Representatives Haveman, Price, and Victory.

4. Somehow, the creators and distributors of this flyer knew that delegates Dave Davis and Carly Nelson would not be listed in the Northwest Quadrant as required by County Party rules, they were listed in wrong quadrants.

5. I checked in with Dave Davis at the same time, we were both supposed to be in the NW Quad. His name was not listed and he was sent to another quad where he subsequently won election as a delegate. Carly Nelson also went to an incorrect quad and was elected a delegate.

6. Bob DeVries, Chief of Staff for State Sen. Meekhof, was in my quad and said in his 30 second speech "we've compiled a list of delegates for you people to vote for" and he then touted that they were backed by various elected officials... This leads me to think Arlan and Bob were significantly involved in all of this... Why aren't Arlan Meekhof or Bob DeVries answering questions??

7. In the aftermath of the convention, in addition to issues with the delegate list, multiple people were improperly left off the alternate list completely. Richard Garay, a first time precinct delegate, drove all the way to Novi, excited for a chance to get his alternate pass and mingle with fellow Republicans at the State Convention. When he arrived, he found out his name was not on the list as it should have been. Garay said he received no call, email, or any other type of contact.

8. The Ottawa County GOP issued the following statement a couple days before the Convention:

"Dear Ottawa GOP Precinct Delegate,

Attached is the formal slate of convention delegates and alternates approved by the state party for the upcoming convention. We are providing this list later than we originally anticipated, and apologize for the delay. We also apologize for the content of the alternate list, which is, admittedly, partially at odds with the result of our county convention.

Last week, we discovered that the alternate list originally submitted by our organization to the state party was inaccurate, and did not reflect the results of our recent county convention. Not only was it inaccurate but it was in violation of MRP rules jeopardizing all of our delegates. The cause of those inaccuracies is currently under investigation. However, upon learning of the issues with our alternate list, we immediately informed the state party and took steps to rectify the problem by recreating, as best we could, the list of alternates generated at the convention.

Our reconstruction effort was undertaken without access to every relevant document or the Ottawa GOP office. Instead, we spoke with over two dozen individuals, including many of the people who captained an individual quadrant, in order to reassemble, essentially from scratch, an accurate list of alternates. We received a lot of vague feedback and some specific feedback. Some accounts of the order were conflicting among people. We had a photo of one quadrant but the rest was constructed by twenty plus different memories. We did the best that we could with the resources that were available in a very short amount of time. This was no easy task and an extensive, frustrating undertaking done with extreme diligence and commitment to the rules.

We understand that this is frustrating. We can only imagine how discouraged you may feel, especially if you are new to the process. To those of you that were negatively impacted, we are sincerely sorry. We don't know how we can make it up to you but we will try our best. If you were negatively and unfairly impacted by the second list, please let us know at the next meeting. We will work to campaign for you to be a delegate at the next convention or will lobby the next chair of the slate committee to extend a flex spot to you. We hope you know how terrible we feel that the list was incorrect and hope that you know how committed we are to correcting this issue for you and ensuring that this never happens again.


The Ottawa County Republican Party

Steketee, left, with husband Steve

11. Team Huizenga involved? Well known Ottawa GOP member Jeff Fuss wrote on Facebook after Steketee's firing:

Jeff Fuss "To Jim Barry.... Who "may have" asked in the slate committee meeting on the Monday before the County Convention "how can the slate committee keep certain delegates off the slate list" did he take part in the vote today?....... I could go on. We will get to the bottom of this."
Jim Barry is a prominent member of Bill Huizenga's team, along with Chief of Staff Jon DeWitte, Greg VanWoerkom, and a few others. Barry's also Huizenga's half brother...

12. A meeting s being held to address the orange flyer, delegate controversy, and Steketee's firing. It will take place Thursday, August 28 at Ottawa GOP Headquarters in Holland. (513 E. 8th St.)

13. Many questions about DeVries/Meekhof's involvment-and the complicity of others- remain unanswered.
Steketee's firing doesn't answer a single one. It will be interesting to see what goes on tomorrow night...

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