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Conflicting special meetings called for Colorado GOP vote to remove Williams as chair

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Lindsey Toomer

(Colorado Newsline) A Colorado Republican scheduled a meeting and vote to oust Dave Williams as state party chair, though party officials said they already sent notice for a special meeting in response to a request for one, as required by party bylaws.

Now there are clashing meetings scheduled on different dates, and it’s unclear which one is more legally grounded.

Todd Watkins, vice chair of the El Paso County Republican Party and a state central committee member, alerted voting members of the Colorado Republican State Central Committee Monday of a meeting to take place July 27 for the purpose of voting to remove Williams from his role as chairman. The meeting will start at 9:00 a.m. in Brighton, and any voting member of the party is eligible to attend or designate a proxy, according to the notice Watkins distributed.

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Party bylaws say that if at least a quarter of voting members sign onto a request, a special meeting must be called within 10 days of the request and held within 30 days of the call. Watkins sent the formal request to party leadership, including Williams, on June 26, a day after Williams lost his primary bid to succeed U.S. Representative Doug Lamborn in the 5th Congressional District.

If leadership does not call a meeting within 10 days of a request for a special meeting, any voting member can call the meeting, according to the bylaws. Three-fifths of committee membership must vote in favor of Williams vacating the chairmanship for him to be removed.

Watkins has led efforts among some Republicans to oust Williams. The primary complaints from those looking to unseat Williams are that he did not relinquish his position as head of the party when he entered the congressional race, even though the dual positions created a conflict of interest; that the state party under his leadership eliminated a tradition of neutrality in primary races and instead endorsed Williams and other favored candidates; that the state party spent money on behalf of Williams in his primary race against a fellow Republican; and that the state party under Williams has engaged in anti-LGBTQ and other messaging that could alienate voters.

According to the call Watkins sent out, motions to remove other officers of the state party will also be considered at the Brighton meeting. The committee will immediately elect new officers to fill any vacancies created during the meeting.

Williams responded to a request for comment with a link to an email from the state GOP and signed by the party’s vice chair, Hope Scheppelman, alerting state central committee members that Watkins’ notice is “fraudulent” and “invalid.”

“We will be engaging Party attorneys to take immediate legal action in court to stop Mr. Watkins’ fraud and abuse,” the notice says. “SCC Members are advised to ignore his fraudulent call as any actions taken at the meeting will be invalid. The Colorado Republican Party urges Mr. Watkins to immediately cease and desist from promoting this invalid meeting which is confusing members.”

The email from Scheppelman says the party already mailed and emailed a special meeting notice within the timeline required by party bylaws. That meeting is scheduled for July 19 in Bayfield, but the notice Scheppelman sent says those attending will gavel in and “immediately recess” so the meeting can be reconvened August 31 in Castle Rock.

For the July 19 meeting, the notice the party sent to state central committee members says, “You are welcome to witness this but there is no need to appear on this day as we are only satisfying procedural and parliamentary requirements to balance all outstanding logistical issues.”

The notice says one of the reasons for the August 31 meeting is to consider “any potential special meeting petition removal requests/questions that were properly submitted and verified.” It also says members at the meeting will consider a bylaw change related to fractional voting and receive an update related to open primaries.

“As the meeting has been properly called despite Mr. Watkins’ unverified and improperly submitted request, the notice that was sent out by Mr. Watkins is invalid,” the party’s email continued.

When asked for comment on the notice from the GOP, Watkins said his official statement is “whatever.”

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