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Judah calls for local GOP committee chair to resign

By Staff | Dec 17, 2008

Lee County Commissioner Ray Judah called for the resignation of Gary Lee, chairman of the Lee County Republican Party Executive Committee, during a news conference Wednesday over Lee’s refusal to seat Marilyn Stout as state committeewoman.
Stout received 73 percent of the vote during the Aug. 26 primary. Because of a spat over a Republican Party of Florida loyalty oath Stout did not sign by the June 20 deadline set by the party, her opponent, Brenda Skupny, will be seated as committeewoman.
“To me Gary Lee represents a rogue elephant. He has so completely politicized procedures with the party, and he has arbitrarily set the rules,” Judah said.
Lee said he is not going anywhere. About 115 precinct representatives, including Stout, recently re-elected Lee, who ran unopposed, as executive committee chair in a unanimous vote.
“I have no intentions (of resigning). I was re-elected on Dec. 6,” Lee said in a phone interview.
Stout said she thought about voting against Lee in protest, but decided against it since there was nothing to gain from it because he was running unopposed.
Stout claimed that she was not aware of the loyalty oath deadline, and bemoaned what she called a “double standard,” pointing out that members of the executive committee did not sign the RPOF loyalty oath until June 25, five days after the deadline.
“I had no knowledge there was a letter from the party chairman laying out a deadline for the loyalty oath. There should not be double standards,” Stout said.
According to Lee, a 30-day extension was given to members of the executive committee and not to committeemen and committeewomen because of the overwhelming numbers of committee members.
Lee said the state party rules prevent him from seating Stout as committeewoman.
“The state Republican Party of Florida makes that decision, not the county,” Lee said.
Stout, who also was re-elected to the Lee Memorial Health Board of Directors in the Nov. 4 general election, agrees it is too late for Lee to place her in office, but said he should have notified her of the deadline.
According to Stout, Lee had ample time to tell her about the loyalty oath during a conversation they had shortly before the noon deadline on June 20.
“I told him I was filing for committeewoman,” she said.
Lee disputes that.
“She never let us know she was running. We thought she was filing for the hospital board,” Lee said.
Judah also claimed that Lee’s political style is hurting the party and preventing the moderate, “mainstream” sector of the party from coming to the fore.
“What happens with a rogue elephant is they leave a path of destruction in their wake,” Judah said.
Lee supported Judah’s opponent during the primary, Anita Cereceda.
While Stout praised some of Lee’s efforts as chairman, especially his fund-raising ability, she said he has gradually become more power hungry.
“The more power he has been able to wield, the more power he has sought,” Stout said.