ST. PETERS, MO (KTVI)– Like a lot of people, Catherine Dreher went to Saturday morning’s St. Charles County Republican Caucus excited about participating in the democratic process.
But she left feeling the victim of an autocratic process, with St. Charles County GOP chairman Eugene Dokes allegedly ignoring the state party rules, by running the meeting himself instead of immediately electing a caucus chairperson.
“It was very clear the central committee came in with an agenda and they were just going to keep going ahead with their agenda regardless of what the people wanted,” Dreher said, adding, “I have been physically sick to my stomach, feel like my rights as a citizen were violated I have the right to a fair election and I was not given that right that day.
One flashpoint was the committee’s decision to ban recording devices, which under state GOP rules are allowed.
The St. Charles County GOP chairman explains to decision as a matter of privacy.
“The subcommittee felt it was important to give people the privacy of their presidential preference, the same type of privacy awarded if you were to go into an election booth and select who you wanted to choose,” Dokes said.
But the meeting never got that far, because when it finally came time to elect a caucus chair, supporters of Brent Stafford claim their attempt to submit has name into nomination was ignored by Dokes.
“Once that other person took the podium tried to take control of the meeting no one recognized him as a valid chairman and at that point it was pretty much done,” Stafford said.
When he tried to reconvene the meeting outside, he and another caucus attendee, Kenneth Suitter, were arrested and charged with trespassing.
The state GOP has issued a written statement saying:
“The events in St. Charles County were unfortunate.”
“We will come to an agreement to ensure that St. Charles County is fully represented throughout the nominating process.”
Dokes denies doing anything improper.
“I think because of the confusion and the chaos that it is not so much embarrassing as it is the way it turned out and it needed to be fixed,” he said.
But Dreher is convinced what happened was not just because of confusion about the rules.
“This shouldn`t happen in America, this certainly shouldn`t have happened in St. Charles, and people should be angry about it,” she said.
Now it is up to the state GOP to find a solution, and they will have to do it quickly.
If there is to be another caucus, it would have to be held before April 21st,which is when the next step in electing delegates takes place.