BCRC Implosion

The Belknap County Republican Committee (BCRC) leadership team can’t seem to get anything right these days. Following on the recent campaign season in which they managed to lose some fine Republicans in the primary and seats to Democrats in the general, they just can’t stop digging that proverbial hole ever deeper. The last several monthly meetings have turned into complete fiascos, featuring round after round of circular firing squad action pitting Republican against Republican.

Whether from the viewpoint of a casual observer, or seasoned politico, the chaos is overwhelming and nasty. All signs point to failed leadership and petty vindictiveness. One would think that at some point, those steering the ship would pause, reflect, and consider whether perhaps they have messed up. But not THIS bunch. The ship they steer is one built in their own design: a ship of fools- one that is sinking, and they are apparently all too willing to go down with it. Since the whole Gunstock ski area debacle came to a head in July- a mess caused in no small part by the same cast of characters in charge of the BCRC, nothing has gone right.

With an important upcoming Republican Party event looming- the biennial caucus in which GOP State Committee members are selected, the future of the current BCRC leadership gang remains very much in question. When elected GOP Convention Delegates along with Republican primary winners gather at the December 14th event, they will have to ask themselves if they are happy with the way things have been going.

When the Norm Silber team that includes Rep. Paul Terry, Dr David Strang, and Marc Abear took the helm two years back, they promised a re-invigorated local committee that would seek to uphold Republican Party principles and grow the conservative base in Belknap County by promoting and electing candidates in that vein. Instead, they helped foment the rise of a formidable Democrat-backed, liberal leaning PAC that proved damaging to many solid Republican candidates in both the primary and the general elections. Rather than attempting to manage the fallout of the Gunstock closure caused by the walkout of upper management, they doubled-down and threw gasoline on the newly-formed PAC’s political fire. While promising to activate and add new members, they instead oversaw the steady exodus of long-time party stalwarts who no longer had the stomach for the ever-growing heavy handedness and open disdain shown towards fellow members and many state-level elected Republican leaders. Unless they marched perfectly in lock-step with how THEY defined a good and proper Republican, they were summarily tossed under the bus and maligned at every turn. Many everyday Republicans in the area found their actions quite disconcerting and exited the group. Now that Norm Silber and his comrades have lit the dumpster on fire, what’s next?

BCRC Chair Norm Silber

What’s next is that he and his cronies are not stupid people. They might be lacking in a level of self perception and awareness, but they DO understand the reality of the predicament in which they find themselves. So they are now doing what all madmen do when huddled in their bunker as the world crashes down around them- start the scorched earth campaign.

Bunker: The Last Refuge of Desperation

They began by limiting attendance at meetings and shutting down the acceptance of new members. Those still in the group are made up of a majority number of Norm acolytes and loyal minions, ready to do whatever they are told to do at a moment’s notice. Facts are not important to these people. Only blind allegiance to the soothing Siren’s Song lulling them into compliance and agreement. Solidify the base. No treasurer’s reports being distributed? No discussion of who got campaign funding from BCRC coffers in the primary, or how they were chosen? No ability to question certain odd rules of the meetings, such as that so-called “media guy” filming and recording every action and utterance? For Norm’s people? No problem!

Next up: the purge. At a recent meeting, the Executive Committee came up with a scheme to revoke the membership of two of the key players in the opposition to their rule. Despite having a majority of members in their camp, they couldn’t risk having “enemies” in their midst able to articulate and point out leadership shortcomings in a way that might sway those on the fence. Better to just remove them from the field altogether.

But, honestly, put yourself in their shoes for a moment. They lost the Gunstock battle. Apparently determined to gut the place and perhaps see it shut down, they failed. They lost several elected and appointed seats. Silber was defeated in the primary. Strang was defeated in a run for the selectboard in his town. He was defeated in his attempt for a GOP delegate position. He was removed from the Gunstock Area Commission after his resignation was accepted. They were defeated in court over their sham lawsuit against the County Delegation. Strang’s suit against the Gunstock Commission chair and the GAC itself got tossed out. Their ally that chaired the Belknap County Delegation resigned after his power evaporated. The BCRC Executive Committee “Member-At-Large” hosts a radio program that nobody listens to, save for an aid for sleep. Given this track record, what else have they got? The BCRC, and NOTHING else.

Like all things in decline and on the verge of collapse, adverse events seemingly pop up and pile on- accelerating the ultimate demise. On top of everything listed above and “on fire” in the BCRC dumpster, along comes the latest news as first reported by Nancy West in InDepthNH.org:

The Attorney General’s Office is looking into the Belknap County Republican Committee to determine if it complied with campaign finance laws during the recent election period.

“We are reviewing campaign finance compliance in the 2022 election cycle of the Belknap County Republican Committee,” said Mike Garrity, spokesman for Attorney General John Formella.

The Laconia Daily Sun’s Catherine McLaughlin also reported on the situation:

The New Hampshire Secretary of State’s Office has no record of the Belknap County Republican Committee’s campaign finance registration for the 2022 election cycle…

Campaign finance records show the BCRC registered in the 2016, 2018 and 2020 cycles.

Oops! Perhaps there was a reason that BCRC Treasurer Dr Strang avoided delivering several of the required monthly reports to the BCRC membership. But not to worry, because “leadership” doesn’t believe there’s a problem Again, from the Daily Sun report:

“The BCRC believes it is fully compliant with state campaign finance law,” Terry said. “This is not a determination that was made by the BCRC without consulting the Secretary of State’s office.” Terry clarified that he was not sure if that consultation, made by Strang, was through a personal interaction with the office or through a study of its written guidance.

He added that the executive committee had not met to discuss allegations of its noncompliance but planned to do so within 48 hours.

Most likely they’ll concoct some “story.” And they’ll no doubt be sticking with it! If you’re not going to bother complying with campaign finance rules, why would one care about any pesky bylaw rules that none of the minions worry about?

So here we are. GOP Caucus goers must consider the facts and the record. Can the BCRC “leadership” team do ANYTHING right? The evidence is in and the answer is clear: NO! IT’S TIME TO GO. NOW!!

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