IDAHO FALLS — After nearly a year, a judge has dismissed a lawsuit against the Bonneville County Republican Women.
Diane Jensen ran for president of the Bonneville County Republican Women and lost. She believed the organization violated its bylaws and Jensen filed a lawsuit in January demanding a judge require the organization to redo the election.
On Sept. 25, District Judge Darren Simpson dismissed the case on a motion from the organization’s attorney and said Jensen did not show grounds for the lawsuit to continue.
“I was relieved that the court found and saw it the way did that we had followed our bylaws. We had even tried to be accommodating to (Jensen). The decision was resounding so we were pretty pleased with the outcome,” Bonneville County Republican Women previous president Stephanie Mickelsen said.
Mickelsen was the president of the organization in October and November 2018, when Jensen attempted to run for president. Mickelsen continues to serve on the organization’s executive board.
The basis of Jensen’s complaint against the Bonneville County Republican Women revolved around membership dues and the organization’s bylaws regarding membership.
Jensen claimed she paid her membership dues to the Bonneville County Republican Women after Sept. 1, 2018 and various other women joined her.
During an October election for president, Jensen ran against Lisa Burtenshaw. Jensen, and the other women who paid their dues after Sept. 1, were told they were not full members and could not vote.
The organization’s bylaws say, “Dues of new members joining after Sept. 1 shall apply to the following year’s dues,” meaning someone who pays dues after Sept. 1 is not a member until January.
Jensen took a different understanding of the bylaw.
“It says ‘dues of new members.’ So it calls you a new member, not a future member. What the bylaw really means is that your dues apply to the remainder of this year and all of next year,” Jensen told EastIdahoNews.com in a previous interview.
However, Simpson found that Jensen didn’t have the standing to bring a lawsuit.
“(Jensen’s) allegations were based on speculation. They had no basis in law,” Bonneville County Republican Women attorney Nathan Olsen said. “The judge went through her own allegations and used those allegations to show that she didn’t have a claim that belonged in a court of law.”
Jensen said she believes Simpson may have misunderstood aspects of her suit against the organization and plans to ask him to reconsider.
“The bottom line is that some members of the (Bonneville County Republican Women) rigged the election in favor of their handpicked candidates and this was not addressed in his decision,” Jensen told EastIdahoNews.com.