Republic Party chair rejects Border Patrol agent’s bid for committeman post

George "Zack Taylor," chair of Santa Cruz Republican Party

A video recording of Santa Cruz Republican Party Chair George “Zack” Taylor grilling a young Border Patrol agent in an effort to justify disqualifying him as a Precinct Committeeman has sparked outrage. Several attendees of a recent meeting of Legislative District 2 Republicans recorded the shocking attack that has left southern Arizona Republicans stunned and ashamed.

In the recording, Taylor appeared to threaten the young public servant with the loss of his job, according to multiple witnesses. In fact, Taylor’s treatment of the young man, and the failure of other leaders to stop it, prompted Legislative District 2 First Vice-Chair John Backer to resign.

Taylor advised the young agent that part of his Precinct Committeeman (PC) vetting process included speaking to the young man’s superior officers. Taylor claimed that the officials told him that the agent would be in violation of the Hatch Act if he were to become a PC. While Taylor claimed that he was only looking out for the welfare of the agent, he went so far as to announce publicly the agent’s home address putting the agent at grave risk.

[Agent name and address distorted for his personal safety]

The agent was recruited by the head of the Santa Cruz Republican Party Club, Steven McEwen with the assistance of Sergio Arellano, a conservative Latino activist, who has worked on Veteran and Hispanic outreach for Republican causes.

In response to Taylor’s Hatch Act restriction claims, McEwen sought an opinion on the matter from government officials:

Dear Mr. McEwen,

Generally, the Hatch Act does not prohibit federal employees from running for and serving as precinct committeemen, provided they do not solicit, accept, or receive political contributions or use their official positions (e.g., official title or resources) to advance a political party’s or candidate’s efforts or activities. Additionally, all activities and duties related to holding such a position must be performed while off duty and not in the federal workplace.

Kind regards,
Ana Galindo-Marrone
Chief, Hatch Act Unit
U.S. Office of Special Counsel

As Galindo-Marrone wrote, the young public servant is not restricted by the Hatch Act. He, like any other government employee, cannot use his position or other government resources for partisan purposes, but he did not sacrifice his right to free speech when he signed up to serve the public and put himself in harm’s way for his fellow Americans.

Still, Taylor rejected the opinion of Galindo-Marrone and has demanded a letter from the young Border Patrol agent’s supervisor in order to “consider” his request to volunteer as a PC.

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Taylor has managed to hold a tenuous grip on the Santa Cruz County Republican Party by only allowing a handful of carefully selected precinct committeemen to be officially approved by the Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors. Since taking over control, Taylor has not appointed a Precinct Committeeman to the ranks of the Santa Cruz County Party since 2009.

Taylor’s strategy of limiting ranks to only those who favor him ensures his continued control of the Santa Cruz Republican Party because it is Precinct Committeemen, who elect the county chairs. The tactic, while good for Taylor has had devastating effects on the morale of LD2 members and candidates.

At the same time, newly-elected AZGOP Chair Kelli Ward is scrambling to grow the Party and fill its very meager treasury and has chosen to ignore the issue with the young agent. She has essentially washed her hands of this seamy and systematic rejection of new members.

Taylor’s treatment of the young Latino public servant has done considerable damage to those associated with the Republican Party in southern Arizona. Unless LD2 elects a replacement for Backer that has his backbone, it could get worse.