State GOP is returning to sound principles

  • Article by: BILL JUNGBAUER
  • Updated: May 15, 2012 - 10:42 AM

Ron Paul supporters have encouraged much of this internal restoration.

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Republican Presidential candidate Ron Paul shook brought his campaign to the Chanhassen Town Hall to an overflow crowd Saturday, Feb. 4, 2012, in Chanhassen, MN.

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Counterpoint

Week after week, there is a recurring theme in the Star Tribune -- a rehashing of the troubles of the Minnesota GOP. Regular stories, along with letters to the editor, ridicule the party for its fiscal woes. One refrain claims that it's losing its power because it's made up of nothing but old white men.

Joe Repya, a disgruntled white man who left the party in 2009, is even back to complain ("Money, sex, Ron Paul hits KO GOP," April 25). Joe, like many of the party old guard, has little knowledge of Ron Paul, but does have plenty of criticism of Paul and his supporters.

Repya claims that Paul's supporters are perceived as anti-Semitic, anti-immigrant, against national defense and for the legalization of drugs. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Paul supporters believe in cutting foreign aid to all countries, not just Israel. We believe that people should immigrate to America legally.

We believe in a strong national defense, but not in being the world's police. We believe that the legalization of marijuana, particularly medicinal marijuana, is the states' right to decide, not the federal government's.

In 2008, a movement began throughout our state, with Ron Paul being the force behind it. Paul did not get the delegates needed to be the Republican nominee, but his strength has been building the last four years.

In 2009, many officer positions were won by libertarian-minded Ron Paul supporters within the Minnesota GOP. I was one of those elected to the state executive committee.

Those of us who questioned Tony Sutton, the party's chairman at the time, were scorned. Questions about the treasurer's report were often met with hostility and denial. The majority of the committee who supported Sutton trusted him unconditionally.

Membership changes on the state committee in 2011, and later the resignation of deputy chairman Michael Brodkorb, tipped the balance of power away from the chairman. Those of us asking the tough questions now had fellow committee members willing to listen. They, too, wanted answers, and we got them.

The information started as a trickle, but as time marched on, we learned about overspending and that vital information had been withheld from the treasurer. With the creation of a financial review committee, and later with the election of Pat Shortridge as chairman and the appointment of Bron Scherer as treasurer, the full scope of the party's dire straits was realized.

The Republican Party of Minnesota is now seeing a light at the end of the tunnel. There are only a few more payments to the Federal Election Commission for the $170,000 fine imposed last year. Money from donors is coming in steadily.

Also, and more important: The party has a new influx of thousands of energetic, determined Ron Paul supporters willing to do whatever work it takes to win back liberty.

These new activists come from every race, sex and age group. At the precinct caucuses in February, and at conventions since, Paul's followers have been well-organized.

At every congressional district convention throughout the state, they've taken almost every national delegate spot. They're well-studied in economics and in every aspect of the U.S. Constitution.

They realize that the GOP has drifted away from its core values and that it's time to step up and become involved in party politics. They know it's equally as bad for donor money to be spent frivolously as it is for our Legislature to spend taxpayer dollars unwisely.

Therefore, many of them have run for and won party officer positions all over the state -- in some instances replacing whole Senate and congressional district committees.

The troubles of the party are the responsibility of the former chair. Full transparency of all financial issues are vital to the health of the party and to the trust of the voters.

Having leaders who keep themselves fully informed, along with coming changes in the party bylaws and constitution, will assure that this dark chapter in party history never repeats itself.

The Minnesota GOP is made up of thousands of great, principled people. We've publicly policed our own ranks and are cleaning up our house.

Party activists and the voters can be assured of transparency, honesty and integrity from party leadership always.

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Bill Jungbauer, of Oakdale, is a member of the state executive committee of the Republican Party of Minnesota.

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