The Multnomah County Republican Party splintered Monday night after 19 precinct committee members tried to re-elect Stephen Lloyd as chairman in the parking lot of a Gresham church.
It remains unclear who is actually currently chair, and questions remain whether or not the procedures the parking lot group went through, according to Oregon bylaws, really made Lloyd the chairman again.
The vote came less than two weeks after a faction of the party voted to recall Lloyd on May 6, in a meeting guarded by a security team affiliated with the Proud Boys at a church in the Montavilla neighborhood.
The Republican Party scheduled a meeting on May 17 at City Park Church in Gresham. But when Lloyd and his supporters showed up to the church and entered, according to three people who attended and spoke with WW, then-party secretary Sean Yates denied entry into the meeting to two female Republican Party members, Margo Logan and Jane Hays.
James Ball was one of the precinct committee members, or PCPs. He says when he and other supporters of Lloyd showed up to the church on May 17, Yates and those who ousted Lloyd last week refused to let Hays inside the building.
“They were keeping people out and they decided it was a closed meeting,” Ball tells WW. “They let us in to begin with, but there were certain people who were not allowed in. When we pressed Conner on it, he wouldn’t explain his reasoning other than this was what he had decided. So a quorum-full went to the parking lot to hold the meeting.”
Ball and 18 other members commenced the meeting in the church parking lot. Standing in a circle in the parking lot, they voted to re-elect Lloyd as chairman. (An email from the other faction sent to WW disputes the validity of the vote, and argues the recall still stands.)
Once it started drizzling, the group clambered into their cars and drove to Bumpers Bar and Grill to continue the meeting, where they voted on other items, including ousting Conner as acting chairman and Yates as acting secretary.
The meeting minutes from the May 17 event, which Ball shared with WW, show that once the group arrived at Bumpers the members voted to try and wrest control of the MCRP website away from Conner’s faction by changing the password.
The meeting minutes read: “Motion to vacate the following positions and to re-elect new members at the next organizational meeting: Vice Chairman, Secretary, Treasurer, all delegates, all alternate delegates, all house district captains.”
The meeting was adjourned at 9:20 pm.
Ball says that his group “are the legitimate party in my mind.”
The Multnomah County GOP is not a significant political force in a deep-blue county. But its fracturing is significant because for several years, its leadership has closely associated with extremist groups and right-wing street protesters, including the Vancouver, Wash.-based Patriot Prayer. Lloyd attempted to broaden the party’s appeal—and the GOP has now split into two factions, one of which is openly aligned with the Proud Boys.
The Proud Boys are a far-right men’s group closely linked to the Jan. 6 storming of the U.S. Capitol. They have regularly marched into Portland over the past four years seeking confrontations with anti-fascists.
Last week, WW reported that the county’s Republican Party had penned an agreement with Proud Boy affiliate Daniel Tooze that he would provide volunteer security for a May 6 meeting at a church in the Montavilla neighborhood to recall chairman Stephen Lloyd. That written agreement was shared with WW by precinct committee person Tim Sytsma.
Hays, Logan and Ball say Proud Boy affiliates were once again providing security for Conner and those inside the church when they first arrived that evening.
“We all arrived at the designated location, and Conner and friends had more Proud Boys there,” Ball says. He estimates 5-7 security men were there in “grunt style t-shirts.”
Daniel Tooze, who provided security for the party at the recall event on May 6, tells WW that he was at Monday night’s meeting as a Republican Party member but did not provide security, and argues no security was present.
“I went by there because I’m a Republican. Unfortunately liberals see Proud Boys everywhere in the shadows. There was nobody walking around there with Proud Boy regalia of any type,” Tooze says. “There were people there just voluntarily escorting elderly people to and from the meeting to their cars, if you want to call that security. Elderly people in our community are scared of antifa because there are opinion papers such as your own that blast information out and put people in danger.”
When asked if he identifies as a Proud Boy, Tooze said: “I identify as a Proud Boy whenever I feel like it, just like I would if I was an Elk member. Proud Boys don’t come from a factory in Kentucky. They’re just regular people. They’re Democrats, Republicans, they’re Black, they’re white, they’re actually more diverse than the population. They’re not criminals. So have a nice day.”
The Portland Police Bureau did not respond to a request for comment regarding the call that Hays says she placed to them when denied entry.
When WW asked Yates and Conner were asked for comment, an email was sent to WW from the email address ‘MCRP_Truth’ several hours that read, in part: “The Recall was done legally. It will stand.”
The email continued, “Stephen acting like a Heavens Gate cult leader and choosing to march to the parking lot ..... well it hurts the Republican Party because it’s not legal, not correct and won’t stand.”
The sender of the email did not include their name. But the emailer stood by the decision to hire a Proud Boy affiliated security team on May 6.
“Fact: We are not ashamed of our security provided. Fact: Being ‘associated’ with something doesn’t make it wrong or evil. It’s the same as saying ‘All Newspaper reporters are Evil....and those that associate with them are evil,’” the email sender wrote. “If that was true then Stephen would qualify as Satan.”
City Park Church did not respond to request for comment.