Denton County Chair's Abuse of Power and Voter Intimidation

Finally! After getting numerous reports of abuse someone else is willing to let me write about their experience with the Denton County Republican Party Chairwoman, Dianne Edmondson. Recently, I made a post about how our chair treated doing her job was some sort of quid pro quo. If she appointed someone to serve the party by being on a  committee the environment was such that she expected an endorsement in return. After sharing that on Facebook I received messages from others that had been through similar experiences, but due to the intimidation atmosphere created around the party they did not feel comfortable sharing.

Abusers of power, like an abusive lover, will not stop until they are confronted and forced to stop so I am pleased that a young man by the name of Connor Price gave me permission to tell his story.

Connor is the president of the Liberty High School Republican Club. He is 18 and plans to go to Baylor in the fall. I do not know Connor well, but from our limited experience he is a sharp and ambitious young man.

Connor made the decision to endorse Lisa Hendrickson for Denton County Republican Party Chair. That was a big no-no. You see Edmondson had already tapped a man named Kelly Sayre, her first vice chair, as the anointed one to serve her eighth term. While she is not allowed to endorse she wrote his announcement letter, defended him in letters to the editor in which she lied about Lisa, and her husband was part of the $1000 he has manage to raise in the campaign.

Connor was part of an endorsement video for Lisa Hendrickson and in it mentioned that “the Denton County Republican party had never reached out to him” or other young people. Well, Edmondson couldn’t have the vail torn down to see the emperor has no clothes so she called Connor to get his to take it down. Thankfully, he refused to remove his endorsement video.

Today, Sayre posted a picture of Connor from a recent meeting he spoke at praising the outreach to young people even though the young man pictured disagrees any such outreach exists.

Here is Connor’s response: ”

This past Thursday I spoke on something that I am very passionate about and that is party unity. I stated that we must all come together as one and that we must bridge the gap between generations. After the events and posts today I still believe that my words are true. I also believe that our party can and should be doing more for students and this is why I am standing with Lisa Hendrickson. Bashing me and using me as a prop are not how we bring this party together. Attempting to kick people out of meetings because of their age and banning them from party HQ will not bring us together and taking credit for accomplishments that you had no part in certainly will not bring us together. We must get back to the issues at hand because right now our party needs us. Our country needs us to come together and say that we will not go quietly into the night and that we will not go down without a fight. We must unite elders and students, Christians and Muslims, African Americans and Whites, men and women and others who may not agree with us 100%. We must stand and say in one voice that we are sick of what the Democratic Party has done to our great nation and that we will do all we can to stop the wave of destruction that the other side has caused. We can have different ideas of how this great nation should be run, that’s the amazing thing about our country, but we cannot argue over petty things and slander others in the process because that drives people away. At the end of the day we are all Americans wanting to make our nation great and personally I believe that Lisa will do a great job as county chairwoman. We each can have different opinions in this election but the dirty posts and lying must stop. I believe we have a duty as citizens to call others out on things and bring it to their attention, however, we must do so in a graceful fashion. Although many we are ultimately one. God bless the Republican Party, God bless Denton County and God bless the United States of America!”

Current leadership likes to talk about young people but it only seems to be as show pieces for an agenda. There was even a time when children were banned from county headquarters including teens wanting to volunteer. Only in the last two years, thanks to the wonderful efforts of great volunteer, have we started high school republican clubs. Just last month I was told to shut down a Young Republican club I started because some how having two in a county of over 700,000 people was seen as divisive.

The party loves to take credit for keeping Denton red, but if you look at the party budget very little goes to outreach or voter engagement. I don’t know of any candidate in the county that won because the party helped. Yes, many of us involved volunteer, but we’d be volunteering with or without the party apparatus which seems to do more to run people off than actually build them up.

I have considered Sayre a friend and ally on many things, but allowing Edmondson to intimidate on his behalf and recent behavior and lies against his opponent are not fitting for someone seeking to lead and unite the party.

In an article in the Denton Record Chronicle, Sayre said that “precinct chairs across the county “don’t know who [Lisa Hendrickson] is,” and that means she shouldn’t be elected. That is quite interesting since Lisa has more precinct chair endorsements listed than the sitting vice chair even with the intimidation efforts going on.

Sayre is certainly right that experience matters. If that experience is following a top down model of intimidation then it matters because Denton Republicans shouldn’t stand for it any longer. I hope Sayre continues to work in the party and bring his gifts and talents. Perhaps under a uniting leader like Lisa Hendrickson he’ll truly have the experience to lead the party because that type of experience is what Denton desperately needs.