The tiny American Party is apparently trying to dump one of its gubernatorial candidates, whose complaints led Salt Lake County to declare illegal a $5 fee the party charged county convention delegates to vote.
The party's credentials committee sent candidate Larry Topham a letter this week questioning whether he has been a resident of Utah for the past 5 years - as required by law - and wants him to prove his residency.Topham told the Deseret News that he meets residency requirements. He feels party officials are not worried so much about his residency as they are about trying to retaliate for his complaining about the party's delegate fees.
Evidence to support Topham includes a sentence from the letter questioning his residency. It said, "It concerns us that you appear seemingly out of nowhere and immediately stir up a controversy."
Also, Arly Pedersen - the national chairman of the Salt Lake-based political party who is running against Topham for the gubernatorial nomination - said last week that the party would consider asking Topham to leave the party because of the controversy it blames on him.
At the party's county convention on May 21, Topham and his followers refused to pay a $5 delegate fee - so they were not allowed to vote. Meanwhile, Topham said some people who were not elected delegates but who showed up and paid the delegate fee were allowed to vote.
Topham complained to county, state and federal officials. Deputy County Attorney Gavin J. Anderson ruled that charging a fee to vote is illegal and that the county convention would have to be held again or the county should not endorse results of elections there.
However, State Party Chairman David C. Wilson said Tuesday that the party will not hold a new Salt Lake County convention. "No one was elected as a candidate in a contested race anyhow. We'll just certify all our county delegates as state delegates and have them vote in the state convention."
That doesn't satisfy Topham. He doesn't want those people who were not elected county delegates but who showed up and paid the delegate fee certified as state delegates. Also, he doesn't like many of the votes that were taken on the party platform when he and his supporters could not cast ballots.
Concerning Topham's residency, he said he maintained Utah residency for the past 5 years - even though he spent much of the time out of state "resolving legal matters." He said forms filed with the State Tax Commission would give proof he maintained Utah residency.
"I signed affidavits when I filed for office that I was a resident. They are on file at the lieutenant governor's office. It is up to the party to prove I lied," he said.