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Democratic chief told to resign

Jay Hamburger OF THE RECORD STAFF

Ranking Democrats demanded on Monday that Rob Weyher resign as chairman of the Summit County Democratic Party during a tense meeting in which Weyher, as he was shredded for what the others see as his turncoat tendencies, responded with defiance and an expletive.

The party’s executive committee convened at Weyher’s Snyderville Basin offices less than a week after it was publicized that Weyher since 1997 has given more money to George W. Bush and Republican congressional candidates than he has given to Democrats.

The local Democrats are livid with Weyher, who, just before the campaign giving was publicized, was criticized for another donation that could ultimately assist a local Republican candidate.

Weyher refused to resign and there were indications that the other Democrats would research procedures to impeach the polarizing leader, whose office is decorated with a framed picture of Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney.

The meeting was explosive, with Weyher trading words with several of the other Democrats and Mike Andrews, a Democrat who does not sit on the executive committee, condemning Weyher as a "public embarrassment" and telling him, "resign now, sir."

In one exchange, Weyher fired an expletive at Richard Sheinberg, a Park City Democrat, after Sheinberg requested that Weyher, who briefly left the table to go to his desk, return to the proceedings. Weyher later apologized to Sheinberg and said afterward that he was speaking to an aide about whether coffee for the meeting had arrived.

Patrick Cone, an Oakley Democrat who once served on the Summit County Commission, called for a vote of confidence but Weyher refused to allow the Democrats to complete the vote.

Weyher repeatedly said that Cone’s motion was not allowed at the meeting and said that the Democrats in May had voted to keep him as the leader. Weyher abruptly adjourned the meeting as the others tried to consider Cone’s motion.

"It’s been voted on. It’s out of order," Weyher said.

Andrews, a delegate to the Utah State Democratic Convention, delivered a sharply worded prepared statement against Weyher, claiming that the chairman’s explanation of his campaign donations leave him, "indicted and convicted by his own words of the charge of failing as the leader of the Democratic Party of Summit County."

"I would assert that our chair has publicly espoused ideas, actions and beliefs which are contrary to the very nature of representative government," Andrews said. "His comments reflect a belief that government is nothing more than a commodity to be bought and sold on the open market to the highest bidder, one of whom he admits to being."

Weyher, it was publicized in late May, has given $6,500 to Republicans and $5,800 to Democrats since 1997, according to the Federal Election Commission.

In an interview at the same time, Weyher explained that he supported the Republicans for reasons like that he benefited from GOP tax policies and his daughter was appointed a Senate page by Sen. Orrin Hatch, a Republican whose re-election campaign received $1,000 from Weyher in 2000.

Weyher said that he has not paid federal income taxes since 2001 under Bush’s tax plan, leading to his donations to Bush.

Weyher said on Monday that he spoke to former President Bill Clinton recently during a fundraiser, who told Weyher he had not been required to pay taxes under Bush’s policies either, according to Weyher’s description of the conversation. Clinton described the trend as a travesty, according to Weyher, who called the money he saved an "ill-gotten gain."

Weyher said he donated at least $10,000 to meet with Clinton for 15 minutes during a fundraiser for a Democratic senator.

The disclosure of Weyher’s donations came as the local party tries to rally as June primaries and the November general election approach. The Democrats are confident in their prospects on Election Day, particularly in the Summit County campaigns.

They also are coveting the 53rd District of the Utah House of Representatives. David Ure, the popular Republican incumbent, is seeking a spot in the Utah Senate, leaving the 53rd District an open seat. Democrat Laura Bonham and Republican Mel Brown are the major-party candidates for the seat.

Weyher, a construction magnate, became the chairman of the party in April 2005. His term expires in April 2007. He has pledged that three-quarters of his campaign donations in 2006 will go toward Democrats and one-quarter will be given to Republicans.

He said lots of Democrats outside of the party’s leadership want him to continue as the chief of the party.

"I think that the people that really form the Democratic Party of Summit County support me," Weyher said.


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