Looking behind the scenes: Local GOP’s transparency lacking

By: Jim Ruffalo
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It wouldn’t be truthful to write that Tom Hudson and I agree on many things. While he always returns my phone calls, and takes an inordinate amount of time to make sure all my questions are answered, I still think that the Republican Party in Placer County would be better off without him. He knows this, yet still makes himself available to my persistent questions, which speaks well of this chairman of the Placer County Republican Central Committee. But if my opinion needed bolstering, the amount of bickering at the last two Central Committee meetings provides that. Two meetings ago, the Central Committee’s internecine policy of endorsing during a primary campaign almost caused fisticuffs, and this past Wednesday wound up with more than a few Tea Party members leaving the premises possessing less-than-warm thoughts about the Grand Old Party. By now, most of us know that it’s awfully difficult to tick off a Tea Party member, not after what those tough folks go through just to meet. But Hudson and friends managed to do just that. I didn’t attend, but numerous reports say that after two Central Committee members made motions concerning a way to avoid appearances of a) self-interest and b) suspending payments to a company called Headquarters Partnership, both motions were tabled without discussion. So much for transparency. Or as Phylis Wing, a Tea Party member from Lincoln, told me: “I did not see any transparency at that meeting.” Wing said the issue of transparency may well be a centerpiece of the 2012 presidential campaign, so it would be quite hypocritical for local Republicans to use it thus. Karen England, a state board member of the California Republican Assembly, also expressed concern over what she said was hypocrisy. She said she was concerned over “the lock-down I see here, the very controlled way things are run by the executive board. There is a definite lack of sunshine and accountability here.” By the way, England is running for a District 4 seat on that Central Committee. The problem is that whether Hudson and his minions realize it, winning the upcoming election will not be the cakewalk many pundits predict. The month of November seems to be right around the corner, but politically it’s a light year away. Anything can happen between now and then. Auburn City Councilman Kevin Hanley, himself a political junkie and also State Sen. Dave Cox’s representative to the Central Committee, has his concerns. “It’s definitely true that (the meeting) didn’t make a great impression on Tea Party members, and we need those folks,” he said, pointing out he was especially concerned with the way the issue of Headquarters Partnership was killed by parliamentary proceeding. I looked into Headquarters Partnership, only to find it wasn’t registered with either the state or Placer County, so I asked Hudson what it was. “It’s a general partnership,” he answered, saying that he and fellow Central Committee board member (and rumored to be the next chairman) George Park were partners. Hudson also said he didn’t know if there were any other partners, but did insist that general partnerships are not — by law — required to register. Hudson said the partnership received $1,050 monthly from the Republican Party, which it then pays to Eureka Professional Partners LLC for the lease on the local committee’s offices. Why such a third party is thus needed is a mystery, especially after Hudson said it was more “convenient” to handle it that way. Meanwhile, Hudson disagreed there was a lack of transparency, saying the Central Committee’s monthly treasurer’s report not only lists every dime (literally) taken in or spent “but also has available at every meeting the actual canceled checks. No other central committee does that.” And it also should be pointed out the committee discloses all of its expenditures on its website. None of which seemed to sway Jon Green’s opinion of the meeting’s outcome. Green, a long-time Central Committee member said, “there seemed to be a lot of reluctance (from the board) to answer questions. I was bothered by the lack of anyone being forthcoming with information,” adding that such an attitude “probably isn’t good for Republican candidates, so my advice is to be careful of who you vote for.” As for me, whenever I see a reluctance to provide information, I always believe that the only thing that is transparent is the motive. Reach Jim Ruffalo at