Kenney Tells AZGOP That Donors Matter More Than GOP Activists

Executive Director of the AZ GOP, Matthew Kenney, made waves last week when he revealed that it is the donors, and not the grassroots who control the Republican Party. Kenney slipped out the worst kept secret in a conversation with AZGOP Secretary Gabby Saucedo Mercer.

On July 5, Saucedo Mercer, who was elected to her post by Republicans across the state, reported Kenney’s admission in an open letter published on Arizona Freedom Alliance (AFA) and then picked up by MCRC Briefs.

The letter spread like wildfire across social media. The letter clearly captured the attention of Republicans – Precinct Committeemen, County Chairmen, legislative district Chairmen, and grass roots activists.

The following day, Kenney penned a response, which was posted on MCRC Briefs. He managed, according to Party faithful, to make a bad situation worse.

Kenny’s response was so controversial that Saucedo Mercer was invited to discuss her letter and Kenney’s on the James T. Harris show.

Mercer’s letter focused on several complaints from multiple Republican Executive Committee members, who have expressed dissatisfaction with the June 17th Executive Committee meeting. In that meeting, according to a post by Marianne Ferrari on the AFA’s website, “I’ve never personally witnessed a more revealing episode in the life of the AZGOP. More and more clearly, we can now understand what is going wrong with our state party.”

Ferrari went on to explain that a motion to share contact information between Bylaw Committee members so they can discuss changes in between quarterly meetings and a motion to provide access to the permanent records to AZGOP Secretary Mercer – both ruled out of order.

In her letter Mercer, called out several troubling issues:

  • The refusal to provide the duly elected Secretary access to the permanent records required to do her job.
  • Kenney misrepresenting both the date and the content of a conversation with Mercer about her attempt to gain access to specific permanent records – contact information for the state committeemen.
  • Sharing that Executive Director Kenney told Mercer that hiring him was not Chairman Lines decision, but a decision made by the donors of the party.

In response, Kenney wrote a passive-aggressive letter in which he avoided answering any of the questions asked of him. Instead he chose to attack Saucedo Mercer while touting his military service. Readers quickly pointed out that Mercer is well aware of the sacrifices made by military members and their families as her daughter served in the Marines for many years.

Kenney, in a condescending tone, informed Mercer that he would only discuss “the relevant facts personally and privately.”

His approach earned the scorn of many and sparked more complaints.

Russell Sias Chairman of La Paz County commented on the Gabby Mercer open letter thread, “On the 28th of June, I sent you a letter with several questions. I also gave you a week to respond. You have not, and today is day ten.”

While Kenney was criticized, Mercer won accolades. Tom Morrissey, former Chairman AZ GOP, praised Saucedo Mercer in a post on MCRC Briefs. He wrote in part: “Gabby Mercer hit the nail right on the head in her open letter to Mathew Kenney 7-6-17-briefs  when she referred to his remark to her that “(Chairman) Lines had nothing to do with his hiring as Executive Director of the AZ GOP, the Donors did.”  If that is true, in my humble opinion, we, the grassroots have absolutely lost control of our state party. There is little, to no doubt, as to who holds the reigns these days and it ain’t us. Us being the Grassroots Conservatives.  Mr. Kenney should realize that he was speaking with an elected statutory officer.  One of the three who have statutory (under state statute) responsibility to maintain the integrity and function of the Arizona Republican Party. I can say, based on my own experience when I was chairman, that I was approached by the Establishment when I was told that “they liked me but did not like my staff. I was advised that if I would clean house and fire them, and then allow the Establishment to put their people as replacements, my job as chairman would be a lot easier. If I didn’t do that I would be on my own.”  I refused that offer and never regretted my decision to do so.”

Currently an effort is underway to assess the likely success of a recall of Kenney’s boss, AZGOP Chairman Jonathan Lines. According to sources, the recall is under consideration due in part to the fact that Lines had promised Party members that he would not hire the divisive Kenney.

Part 1: Armageddon Over Conservative Motions at ExComm

Read AZGOP Secretary Mercer’s Open Letter Here

Read AZGOP Executive Director Kenney’s Response Here