Laura Campbell wins appeal to become county GOP chair
In February, Laura Campbell lost her bid to become the next chair of the Hamilton County Republican Party after outgoing chairman Pete Emigh appointed 71 new precinct committeemen prior to the caucus. Campbell filed an appeal, saying Emigh stacked the deck in favor of his hand-picked choice, Pete Peterson, president of the Fishers City Council.
On March 16, a hearing board ruled that Campbell won her appeal and would be reinstated as county chair.
Campbell, a newly-elected member of the Carmel City Council and former vice chair of the county party, was serving as interim chair upon Emigh’s resignation in late 2015. She decided to “fire” the newly appointed precinct committeemen, which Emigh appointed. Many of them lived in Fishers and one was related to Peterson.
The state committee decided before the February caucus that the fired committeemen would be allowed to vote in the caucus. Peterson won by a 151-115 margin. Campbell contested 52 names, and had those people not voted, Campbell would have won 115-99.
Campbell submitted her evidence to the hearing panel by the deadline, but Peterson did not. He said he didn’t waive his right to provide testimony, as the finding report claims.
“That’s absolutely 100 percent false,” he said. “Under no circumstances was I told that if I didn’t show up for this that would be my only chance to be heard.”
The hearing board voted 3-0 in favor of Campbell without any hearing since Peterson wasn’t in attendance. Then the state committee voted 13-8 in favor of Campbell.
One key piece of evidence in the report is that names of precinct committeemen — who voted in the caucus — had to be submitted 30 days prior to Emigh’s vacancy, which would have been Nov. 30. Former executive director Andrew Greider said he submitted the names on time, but an analysis of his e-mails showed that he didn’t send an e-mail with the 71 appointments to Barb McClellan, secretary of the Indiana Republican State Committee, until Dec. 3. McClellan sent Greider emails reminding him of the deadline. Greider said he sent the names on Nov. 30 and followed up on Dec. 2 to make sure the email went through, but an in-depth search of e-mail servers show that Greider didn’t send the names on Nov. 30, according to the report.
Campbell’s time as chair could be short-lived. There will be another vote for a full-term for the committee chair on the first Saturday of March 2017.
“I’m glad to have it over with and ready to move on,” she said. “We need to unite everyone, even those that didn’t support me in the caucus.”
Peterson said he hasn’t decided if he would run again. He questioned who Campbell would appoint if there are precinct committeemen spots vacant.
“Who’s really going to control next March’s caucus vote?” he said. “She’s not going to appoint anyone who won’t be faithful to her.”