Immediately after the May primary, Melaleuca donated $2,000 to the Idaho Democrats’ legislative campaign fund. That, of course, is CEO Frank Vandersloot’s right. And he’ll probably chalk it up as just a mistake, or the result of a lost bet, which is how he explained his donation to Barack Obama some years ago.
But I point this out because Vandersloot, who is known to also give money to the most leftist Idaho Democrats like Illana Rubel($3,000), Brooke Greene,($3,000), and Michelle Stennett ($2,000) and four years ago supported the Democrats’ choice for superintendent of public instruction, Cindy Wilson ($10,000), is the one who has quietly been in control of the state Republican Party for the last two years, all while funneling $295,200 to Democrats and leftist Republicans and affiliated political action committees in Idaho.
It was Vandersloot who helped get Tom Luna elected chairman of the state Republican Party in 2020. And when it looked like Vandersloot’s nemesis, Bryan Smith, was on his way to winning a seat in Congress, Luna with Vandersloot’s lawyers initiated a scorched earth bogus lawsuit, Attorneys & funding by Vandersloot, aimed at smearing the Bonneville County Republican Central Committee in order to get at Smith. This lawsuit started an unprecedented and very public intraparty war, much to the delight of the legacy news media and Idaho Democrats. It is clear, from Luna’s own comments during a recent executive committee meeting of the Idaho Republican Party, that Luna and Frank acted alone their decision to target Bonneville County, having received neither the input nor consent of any party elected leaders.
Vandersloot then used East Idaho News, the news outlet he founded and continues to control, falsely accusing Smith of directing illegal activities.
Now it appears that Vandersloot would like to get Luna reelected as state GOP party chairman when Republican delegates gather in July. It’s obvious why. Vandersloot would like nothing more than to continue to have, at his disposal, a party chairman who will do his bidding. Vandersloot will do anything to protect his investment.
The question for Republican Party delegates is whether Vandersloot should continue to play puppet master for the state GOP. It’s fair to say that Vandersloot has also supported the party financially, but he’s done so because he realizes that by passing out big checks, he’ll secure the party chairman’s loyalty, and that loyalty can be weaponized whenever Vandersloot so chooses, as was the case in the Republican Primary.
This gives Vandersloot a voice louder than that of the GOP delegates who elected Luna chairman.
This orchestration and targeting of a single county GOP central committee is made all the more obvious by the fact that other county GOP central committees were basically engaged in the same activities as the Bonneville County Republican Central Committee. They endorsed or gave money or other support to Republican Primary candidates and were left alone. Only Bonneville County was targeted, and that’s because it suited Vandersloot’s political interests.
Luna is again running for state party chairman. I’m deeply concerned that Luna allowed Vandersloot to manipulate him, to publicly malign members of his own party, for Vandersloot’s own political objectives.
Vandersloot really has no loyalty to the state Republican Party or its conservative values, as evidenced by his contributions to Democrat candidates, causes and leftist Republicans. That’s what I hope state party convention delegates think about as they cast their votes for the next Republican party chairman.
This Op-Ed was submitted by Doyle Beck. Note: Op-Eds do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of those at the Idaho Dispatch.
Tags: Brooke Greene, Democrat Party, Doyle Beck, Frank Vandersloot, Illana Rubel, Melaleuca, Michelle Stennett, Republican Party