Clark County GOP meeting ends in ‘hollering,’ deputies clearing room

One side seeks to remove leaders, other seeks to remove members from committee.

A Clark County Republican Party meeting on Thursday ended with “tempers flying” and deputies escorting members out, with the future of party leaders and some members to be decided at meeting next month.

The meeting came after resolutions and petitions had been filed to remove Executive Committee Chairperson Laura Rosenberger and Central Committee Chairperson William Lindsey, as well as other Executive Committee officers. Lindsey adjourned the meeting within a few minutes after tensions escalated, according to multiple people who attended the meeting.

Clark County Sheriff Deb Burchett said Friday that after the meeting ended, “everyone was hollering and yelling,” so she had deputies remove everyone to keep the peace.

“There were tempers flying, and we didn’t want to have any confrontations or anything, and so we just told everybody to leave,” Burchett said.

Setys Kelly, former party treasurer, is listed on the Board of Elections website as a committee member, though Rosenberger and Central Committee Secretary Carol Godin emailed Board of Elections Director Jason Baker requesting Kelly’s and other members’ removal from the committee. Rosenberger multiple times has asserted Kelly resigned from the party, though Kelly said she only resigned from the treasurer position alleging requests from Rosenberger to carry out fraudulent activities.

Rosenberger said in a statement that Kelly “revealed her true colors with her public support” of Robert F. Kennedy Jr., an Independent — formerly Democrat — 2024 presidential candidate. This refers to Kelly posting a photo of herself with Kennedy at an Ohio campaign event this week.

“Her belligerent behavior towards Chairman Lindsey and disrespect for the committee at large is indicative of whose side she is really on,” Rosenberger said.

Rosenberger sent the News-Sun a social media post she said was from Executive Committee Mark Sanders, which denounced Kelly’s photo with Kennedy as well as her behavior at meetings.

“To say you are aligned with conservative, Republican values and then proudly have a picture taken and support someone who isn’t shows your lack of values, morals and integrity,” the post read. “I’ve seen your childish behavior in other meetings, I’m sure you are contacting the local media to give them a one-sided version of last nights outbursts, you’re an attention seeking child and those who celebrated the cancellation of the meeting are no better.”

Kelly said that she is a “history nut” and she went to the Kennedy event to have her picture taken with him, not to support his presidential run.

Lindsey did not return a call seeking comment.

Last month, more than 20 people who said they were members of the county Republican Party leadership committees signed a petition that demanded Rosenberger’s and Lindsey’s resignations, but the two leaders sent a letter later that month saying they would not resign or be replaced. They said they would seek to remove those who signed the petition.

A resolution to remove Rosenberger, Lindsey, Godin and Central Committee Treasurer Amy Board was to be presented at Thursday’s meeting but the meeting ended within a few minutes, according to multiple people who attended the meeting. Another special meeting is scheduled for Nov. 2, and Kelly and party member Sharon Vallery said the resolutions will be voted upon.

The turmoil within the county has gained attention from both state Representative Bernard Willis, who has signed petitions and resolutions to remove the chairpersons, and Columbiana County Republican Chairperson David W. Johnson.

In a letter dated Monday, Johnson addressed party members regarding Rosenberger’s activities in her role in the state central committee.

Johnson wrote: “ ... While I do not make it a habit of interjecting my thoughts on the internal affairs of another county party organization, in this case, I cannot resist. Indeed, I feel obliged to share with you the extent to which this woman has wreaked havoc upon the Ohio Republican Party at a cost of well over $200,000 (legal billings to ORP), and counting.”

Johnson detailed “failed” lawsuits in which Rosenberger has been involved and alleged her involvement in backing “fake” political action committees that endorsed state central committee candidates who he said were not endorsed by their own county party.

“These deceitful tactics resulted in a number of her lunatic friends being elected to the state central committee ... now they gleefully join in with Rosenberger to disrupt and delay state central committee meetings ...”

Kelly said she became frustrated at Thursday’s meeting when she was not listed on the roll call and when someone at the meeting took an attendance list she was keeping and some pens. She said Lindsey asked deputies to remove her following her reaction to this, but she said that deputies said they would not remove anyone who was not breaking the law.

Vallery, who will be appointed vice chairperson of the Central Committee if the resolution passes, said that the infighting has prevented the party from focusing its efforts on local and statewide issues.

“We’re supposed to be focusing on Issue 1 and Issue 2; we’re supposed to be out talking to people in our precincts about this,” Vallery said. “We’re not supposed to be fighting about this.”

Burchett said she and deputies will attend the November special meeting. If the resolution is discussed and voted upon, evidence will be presented against Rosenberger and Lindsey, and the two will have the opportunity to present a defense, Vallery said.

Vallery said she hopes that party members look into the accusations levied against Rosenberger and Lindsey between now and the November special meeting.

Rosenberger declined Friday to comment on preparations for the upcoming meeting.

She previously told the News-Sun that by signing the petition, some of the members are “actively engaging in the internal destruction of the Clark County Republican Party by sowing division and hatred where none existed.”

“The ultimate tragedy of these attacks is that the petition signers are putting their own self-interest and personal vendettas out there instead of working for the good of the Party in Clark County,” Rosenberger’s previous statement read.

Vallery said: “What happened last night will make more people curious as to what’s really going on and will want to see what we have been able to compile and ... get rid of this cancer that is destroying our party and keeping us from finding good candidates to get into office.”

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