Dear Oneida Daily Dispatch Editor:
Recently, you republished an article written by Trent Clark. It’s no secret Mr. Clark fully supported Tom Luna for State GOP Chair last summer. Mr. Luna lost his bid for reelection to Dorothy Moon in a landslide. It’s also no secret Mr. Clark believes those who support Dorothy belong to a secret “cabal” and are “crackpots and deranged malcontents.” Since the time his candidate lost the State GOP Chair, Mr. Clark has embarked on a caustic crusade to discredit Dorothy and her supporters even if that means misleading people. Mr. Clark’s article you reprinted is yet another example.
Last fall, 61 State GOP leaders from over 20 counties signed a petition to hold a special State GOP meeting after learning that Damond Watkins, Idaho’s National Committeeman, sold his house in Idaho Falls and moved to North Carolina. These 61 party leaders wanted the state party to discuss whether by moving to North Carolina Mr. Watkins had vacated his seat under party rules.
Because a petition requires evidence to support its allegations, it attached a deed showing Mr. Watkins purchased a home in North Carolina and a picture from Zillow showing the house he bought and the date he bought it. And the petition contained election registration documentation. According to the petition, after Mr. Watkins moved to North Carolina, he told the Idaho Secretary of State that he had moved from his home he sold in Idaho Falls to another home in Idaho Falls that just happens to be his parents’ home without ever mentioning his move to North Carolina.
Contrary to Mr. Clark’s assertion that the petition “purported to question whether a change in Idaho elector status had occurred,” the petition simply questioned whether Mr. Watkins had vacated his position by moving out of state. Mr. Clark further falsely says, “local election officials objected.” This is not true either. Instead, a Bonneville County resident filed an objection with the Clerk that Mr. Watkins no longer lived in Bonneville County to be a registered voter. Mr. Watkins learned of the objection and quickly changed his residency address online to his parents’ house while living in North Carolina before the Clerk could even send Mr. Watkins the objection.
But Mr. Clark didn’t stop with these untruths. He also falsely accused those of filing the petition of “doxing” Mr. Watkins’ children. Mr. Clark says, “documents disclosed where children were spending time, going to school, even included a street address and photo of the house where they stayed.” But the petition’s only mention of children says, “Mr. Watkins has enrolled his children in school” in “North Carolina.” That’s hardly disclosing where they’re “spending time” or “going to school.” The petition doesn’t mention them by name or the number of children.
Mr. Clark quoted his local county clerk who said, “None of that is relevant to elector status.” However, Idaho Code § 34-107 defines “residence” for “voting purposes . . . as the principal or primary home or place of abode of a person.” And “in determining what is a principal or primary place of abode,” the residence of the person’s “spouse” and “children” “may be taken into account.”
Obviously, the petition’s purpose for alleging Mr. Watkins’ children lived in North Carolina was to provide proof under Idaho law Mr. Watkins’ residence is now in North Carolina. Similarly, the Zillow photo of the house Mr. Watkins purchased with its address in North Carolina was attached to the petition to establish Mr. Watkins was living out of state, not to “dox” any children. Any honest and sincere truth seeker can plainly see the petition was not filed to “dox” any children.
Mr. Clark should be ashamed of himself. He has misled your readers to believe bogus claims of “doxing” children to further his own political agenda aimed at making Dorothy Moon out to be some kind of villain. Shame on Mr. Clark.
Bryan D. Smith is an attorney practicing law in Idaho Falls and a former Second Vice Chairman for the State GOP.