Winteregg: Butler County GOP attempting to ‘stack the vote’

Chairman says local GOP is based on ‘participation in the process.’

One of the candidates seeking to fill former House Speaker John Boehner’s seat in Congress is accusing the Butler County Republican Party of trying to “stack the vote” to get the candidate it wants elected.

J.D. Winteregg, of Miami County, said he has an issue with the Butler County GOP’s bylaws, which state that no one can be appointed to the party’s Executive Committee without making a specific financial contribution to the county GOP. Members of the Executive Committee will vote on who to endorse among the Butler County candidates for Ohio’s 8th Congressional District seat.

The Butler County GOP will meet next week to seat its full Executive Committee, which hasn’t been done with the exception of a handful of appointments, since the party’s reorganization meeting in 2014.

“With the endorsement meeting around the corner, it’s suspicious that the Butler County Republican Party leadership would attempt to enact its pay-to-play scheme to stack the vote in favor of an establishment candidate,” Winteregg said, who lost to Boehner in the 2014 GOP primary.

Of the estimated 723,000 residents that live in the state’s 8th Congressional District, more than half live in Butler County. And since a redistricting following the 1970 Census, all of the district’s congressmen have been from the county.

Many local pundits believe that if the Butler County GOP is united behind one candidate, that individual would stand a good chance of winning the district seat. But a split vote could open the door for a congressional candidate outside of Butler County.

The front-running candidates in Butler County now are county Auditor Roger Reynolds and State Rep. Tim Derickson, R-Hanover Twp.

Butler County GOP Executive Chairman Todd Hall said Winteregg’s accusation is ridiculous as the party has operated “by virtually the same framework of by-laws regarding the appointment of the Executive Committee for decades.”

“It is based on a strong, cross-sectioned representation of the Republican Party that includes good conservatives from all walks of life and from all corners of our county,” Hall said. “It is based on participation in the process, the very fabric of our democratic values.”

Hall invites and encourages Winteregg to participate in the county GOP’s endorsement process, but said his “attacks” on the Executive Committee, which consists of people he calls “some of our hardest working volunteers and longest serving members,” is both “unfortunate and misleading.”

“For him to think we will change a structure that has served our party well since before he could even pronounce the word ‘conservative’ is very naive and wrong on his part,” Hall said. “Mr. Winteregg is crying ‘foul’ when this process has been proven fair time and time again. Perhaps it is Mr. Winteregg, a candidate from an outside county who seems desperate to gain any type of press to spur his candidacy, who should reexamine his method of operations.”

Winteregg is adamant that the Butler County’s process to seat its Executive Committee is proof of “an unparalleled level of cronyism.” In one of the most conservative counties in the state, he said that alleged cronyism has “greatly weakened the influence of the Republican Party and has silenced the voices of those who simply want honest, effective and accountable representation.”

Winteregg said “one individual stands to benefit most,” which he said was Reynolds.

“The establishment within the party apparatus is fighting to keep control of who is endorsed, and with the risk of no endorsement of their favorite candidate, they realize that this scheme is the only way for them to preserve their power,” he said.

Winteregg said “principled people” within the Butler County Republican Party are “fed up with these antics.”

“It’s time to allow the elected Central Committee members the representatives chosen by the people — to decide the endorsement, not the hand-picked committee chosen by the establishment in an effort to stack the vote,” Winteregg said.