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March 28th, 2012

Effort to Oust Polk GOP Chairman McLaughlin Fails

Kevin McLaughlin held on to his chairmanship of the Polk County GOP central committee following a meeting Tuesday where it was anticipated that a vote would be taken regarding his status. That vote never happened. Although the issue was noted on postcards that were sent to all central committee members last week, there was no mention on the meeting’s agenda for “new business” or to discuss concerns regarding McLaughlin’s leadership.

Following speeches from two local Iowa House candidates, longtime central committee member Craig Bergman asked for a suspension of the rules. After several minutes of discussion of proper procedures, a vote was taken. Bergman’s motion was rejected, 91-39.

Following some further discussion, McLaughlin told attendees that he would allow for a vote regarding his status as chairman. “I would like to get to the business portion of this meeting so we can get to a vote,” McLaughlin said. “I have no intention of stopping anyone from entering new business. If somebody wants to try to send me to the showers, they are welcome to try to do that. That said I don’t intend to go to the showers. I intend to finish my job.”

However, that vote never came and there was never any mention of allowing discussion of “new business”. The meeting concluded and Kevin McLaughlin remains the Polk GOP chairman.

“I was very pleased about the meeting because two things happened,” McLaughlin told “Number one, the most controversial part of the meeting, the division that we had to address, was addressed in a ladylike and gentlemanly way and it gives us a chance secondly, to put this party, I don’t think it’s even apart now, the way people acted tonight so I’m very proud of the central committee and the way they conducted themselves.”

Despite McLaughlin’s optimism, rifts remain inside the central committee. Craig Bergman disagrees that the issues were addressed. He says the opportunity to voice his concerns was never provided.

“I did want to handle this quietly and it’s obvious he doesn’t want to handle this at all,” Bergman said. “He promised right from the podium that we would have new business and discuss this and then proceeded not to do so, adjourning us at 8:20. That means it was a one-hour meeting that we had 300 chairs packed in here and hundreds of credentials and badges printed. For what?”

Polk County GOP Co-Chair Dave Funk has also been vocal with his displeasure of how McLaughlin has handled some of his duties. Funk and McLaughlin were elected to their positions as a tandem in January of 2011.

“What I wanted to see happen tonight was an honest and open discussion about the lack of planning for the convention,” Funk said. “And I think there’s a lot of members here who were saying, ‘This is a pattern.’ We need to address it and get it behind us. I’m a little disappointed that we didn’t have better attendance tonight of central committee members to actually come out here and listen and ask the hard questions.”

Among Craig Bergman’s points of contention is his belief that McLaughlin is violating the county party’s by-laws in the way he selects members of the Executive Committee. Bergman drafted an extensive letter that was handed out to attendees upon arrival. The letter points out some of Bergman’s concerns and encourages central committee members to vote for a suspension of the rules. The overwhelmingly majority did not comply.

“The other 2/3 have essentially by fiat suspended all the rules and do whatever they want,” Bergman said. “They have a functioning suspension of the rules and they’re completely ignoring them. As long as 2/3 of the body support that, whether out of ignorance or whether out of political fear or whatever reason they do, there’s nothing that can be done.”

Bergman added that he likely would have called for the chairman’s removal if the rules had been suspended. However, before doing that, he wanted McLaughlin to address some concerns. That did not happen.

As for McLaughlin, he considers the issue closed. “Now we can get back to building this county because these kinds of interruptions, I didn’t like the way they went about doing this and my goal is to build a county, win it and save the world and that’s what I think we can do,” he said.

McLaughlin also apologized to the committee for some off-color jokes he made during the Polk GOP convention as the proceedings lagged. “I in no way intended to harm anyone or offend anyone,” he said. “I don’t see myself ever doing that again.”

Craig Bergman says Chairman McLaughlin is running the central committee like a “selfish tyrant”. He hopes people behind the scenes will address the issues he brought up in his letter. If not, Bergman might be spurred to take further action.

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About the Author

Kevin Hall
Kevin Hall brings almost two decades of journalistic experience to TheIowaRepublican. Starting in college as a radio broadcaster, Hall eventually became a television anchor/reporter for stations in North Carolina, Missouri, and Iowa. During the 2007 caucus cycle, Hall changed careers and joined the political realm. He was the northwest Iowa field director for Fred Thompson's presidential campaign. Hall helped Terry Branstad return to the governor's office by organizing southwest Iowa for Branstad's 2010 campaign. Hall serves as a reporter/columnist for

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