Lawsuit: Libertarians Ask Federal Court to ‘Disband Hawaii Republican Party’
by Andrew Walden
Should Republicans have the right to run for office in Hawaii?
Newly elected leaders of the Hawaii Libertarian Party don’t think so.
Demanding decertification and dissolution of the Hawaii Republican Party--and $25M in damages--Libertarian State Executive Committee members Dan Decker and Karl Dicks, August 31, 2023, joined co-plaintiff Robert Malish in filing the appropriately named “Dicks vs Hawaii Republican Party” (1:23-cv-00370-KJM-NONE).
Don’t be a Dick.
The Libertarian lawsuit is the latest in a long series of vexatious lawsuits, petitions, and appeals beginning April 25, 2022, when a group of 29 current and former Hawaii Republican Party members, many associated with the antivaxxer Aloha Freedom Coalition and ‘Klean House Hawaii’ scribbled a semi-literate ‘Formal Complaint’ (see pg 20-24) petition addressed to the Hawaii Office of Elections, Campaign Spending Commission and Ethics Commission demanding “decertification of the Hawaii Republican Party as a party in good standing and the party name not to appear on the 2022 election ballot.”
The entire legal circus hings on allegations of a minor paperwork glitch--the GOP allegedly failed to file a leadership report with the Office of Elections one year.
Crackpot complaints are a dime a dozen, but this ‘Formal Complaint’ petition launched a 16-month state and federal judicial odyssey which continues to this very day, costing Hawaii Republicans a reported $38K in legal fees just in State courts. (See: 1CCV-22-0001597, under appeal to ICA.)
If the suits stemming from the original ‘Formal Complaint’ succeed, 200,000 Hawaii Republican voters would be disenfranchised of the right to vote for Republican candidates. The entire Hawaii Republican House and Senate legislative caucuses would cease to exist. Republican candidates –including Presidential candidates--would have no party line to run on in Hawaii. The Hawaii Republican Party would be electorally abolished, making national Republicans into a 49-state party. The Hawaii Libertarian Party would theoretically become the ‘second party’ instead of the ‘third party.’
Suit? What suit?
Interviews with several Hawaii Republican Party members indicate that, even as the party paid attorneys to defend against an ongoing state lawsuit stemming from the petition, (1CCV-22-0001597) Hawaii Republican Party members remained unaware of the names of decertification petition signers on the ‘Formal Complaint’. (Names: Page 24) The petiton has been public record since June, 2022 as part of 1CCV-22-0000660.
The unknowing Republican Party members then proceeded to elect decertification petitioners to several Party offices.
March 25, 2023, eleven months after signing the decertification petition, Steve Lipscomb was elected Chair of the Honolulu County Republican Party.
Six weeks later, decertification petition signer Charlotte Rosecrans won 40% of the vote for State Chair at the May 5-6, 2023, Hawaii GOP Convention. In addition to signing the original petition, Rosecrans was a plaintiff in one of Dicks’ decertification lawsuits, (SCEC-22-0000490 - Dicks et al v Office of Elections.) Fortunately for Republicans, Rosecrans came in second to non-signer Tim Dalhouse. She is reportedly again seeking the State Chairmanship.
At the same convention, petition signer Lohi Goodman was elected Vice Chair for Coordinated Campaigns--first in line to succeed the Chair. Another petition signer, Emil Svrcina, failed in his candidacy for Vice Chair of Communications. Other 'Rosecrans Slate' candidates winning vice-chairmanships do not show up as petition signers.
Dalhouse resigned in July, leaving Goodwin as temporary State Party Chair. At this point both the State Chair and the Honolulu County Chair were occupied by petition signers.
In a Google Groups post, August 27, 2023, Hawaii Republican National Committeewoman and Interim Party Chair Laura Nakanelua explains what happened next:
This (decertification) complaint was designed to deprive our party and our members of our ability to organize our body and run ANY Republican candidates in 2022. This litigation is still on-going and if successful could make it impossible for ANY of our Republican Presidential candidates to be eligible to run for President in the State of Hawaii in 2024. Not Trump. Not DeSantis. Not Ramaswamy... not any Republican.
Interestingly, when Lohi Goodwin assumed the HRP State Chair seat, one of the first actions he took was to call the attorney defending HRP against Karl Dicks’ lawsuit and direct the attorney to stop his work.
Lohi Goodwin, who signed the Formal Complaint sent to the Hawaii Election Commission asking them to decertify our party, was now Chair of HRP and as Chair, he directed the attorney defending our party against that Dick's lawsuit to STOP THE WORK of our defense.
Does that sound ethical to you?
It didn't sound right to me, so I reached out to RNC Legal and had a 90 minute conference call with attorneys, reviewing HRP Rules with them. Their response? The moment any of these members, including Goodwin, signed off on this Formal Letter of Complaint to decertify the Hawaii Republican Party, their party memberships should have immediately been terminated.
Enquiring minds want to know.
It took Hawaii Republican leaders 16 months to figure that out--and it still hasn’t been acted upon. Will somebody actually make a motion to call yet another meeting to terminate the remainder of the 29 disloyal current and former Party members at the next State Committee meeting?
Seventeen days after becoming chair, Goodwin suddenly resigned both from the Chairmanship and from membership in the Republican Party.
Rick Blangiardi is not Amused.
Wahiawa fencing estimator Karl Dicks, leader of the ‘Klean House Hawaii’ faction didn’t fare as well as Rosecrans or Lipscomb. As a 2020 candidate for Mayor of Honolulu, Dicks pulled in a paltry 361 votes, 14th of 15 candidates in the Primary. Filing an election complaint with the State Supreme Court (SCEC-20-0000505 - Dicks v. State of Hawaii Office of Elections), Dicks argued that all other mayoral candidates were invalid because they campaigned before filing nomination papers and should be retroactively stripped of their ballot status, leaving Dicks as the elected mayor. The Court unsurprisingly ruled that Blangiardi and Amemiya were indeed the General Election candidates for Mayor.
Dicks resigned from the Hawaii Republican Party, August 4, 2023, and the next day was elected to the State Executive Committee of the Hawaii Libertarian Party along with KHH member Robert Santillan and former Aloha Aina Party Committeeman Dan Decker, who had earlier filed a copycat lawsuit seeking decertification of the Republican Party (SCEC-22-0000498).
The Aloha Aina Party, Green Party, and Constitution Party each lost their own ballot status certifications after poor showings in the 2022 elections. This leaves the Hawaii Libertarian Party as the only ‘third party’ on the Hawaii ballot. It also creates motive: If the Republicans were stripped of ballot access, the Libertarians would be the only alternative to the Democratic Party.
Dicks, August 6, 2023, tells Hawai’i Free Press: “It was a good day yesterday. I am on executive committee of Libertarian Party as Secretary and other Klean House Hawaii leaning people have majority vote as per close of convention. Is my crack pot plan starting to interest you?”
Other signers of the original petition to decertify the Hawaii Republican Party include several Republican House District Chairs. At least one, Sue Hughes of HD3, reportedly resigned from the Hawaii Republican Party just before the Libertarian convention and then attempted to rescind her resignation immediately thereafter.
Those who have no politics get the worst politics at the worst time
Many decertification petition signers are people with no previous political experience who suddenly became active in response to the COVID shutdowns. Most are associated with the anti-vaxxer ‘Aloha Freedom Coalition’ known for chanting anti-Semitic slogans outside Josh Green’s condo while annoyed upper-floor residents pelted them with eggs. By choosing this method of protest, they helped support the COVID shutdowns they purported to oppose. At one point, similar antivaxxer threats forced Hawaii Republicans to meet at the iron-gated base yard offices of a trucking company in Kapolei for security.
Million Dollar Baby
Several Republican leaders contacted by this writer were surprised to learn that Rosecrans’ and Dicks’ ‘Klean House Hawaii’ website (KHH.pacig.com) is hosted on pacig.com which is the website of '‘Pacific Investment Group, LLC” (PACIG) a company which describes itself as a “hard-money lender…helping finance real estate.” As the PACIG website explains: “Hawaii Hard Money costs 1% per month, interest-only and takes 15 business days to close, start to finish. Hard Money is fast, easy to obtain, but not cheap.”
The Hawaii Republican Party is the only US state political party to own its own headquarters. The Republicans’ commercial condo at 725 Kapiolani Bl is assessed at nearly $1M.
Are Dicks vexatious litigants as defined in HRS 634-J1, who may be judicially barred from filing additional state and/or federal suits by court order?
Since COVID shutdowns began in 2020, Dicks and a rag-bag of co-plaintiffs have filed 13 ‘pro-se’ state suits and three ‘pro-se’ federal court suits on various complaints. All but the two ongoing have been summarily dismissed.
PDF: List of Dicks State and Federal lawsuits since 2020
Five State Suits Seeking Ballot Disqualification of Republican Party:
1CCV-22-0000660 - Dicks vs State of Hawaii Office of Elections filed June 8, 2022, dismissed June 10, 2022. PLAINTIFFS: Dicks, Malish, Elento
SCEC-22-0000711 - Dicks v Nago et al filed July 21, 2022, dismissed Sept 29, 2022. PLAINTIFF: Dicks
SCEC-22-0000490 - Dicks et al v Office of Elections filed August 12, 2022, dismissed August 22, 2022. PLAINTIFFS: Dicks, Malish, Rosecrans, Santillan
SCEC-22-0000498 [ADA] Decker IV v. State of Hawai‘i Office of Elections filed August 17, 2022 dismissed August 26, 2022. PLAINTIFF: Decker
1CCV-22-0001597 - Dicks vs Hawaii Republican Party filed December 16, 2022: Hawaii GOP attorneys have been obligated to defend against this crackpot case for months--reportedly at the cost of $38,000. Eventually Dicks suit was dismissed June 1, 2023 by Judge Kevin Morikone. Dicks then appealed to the ICA, thus requiring more legal expense from Republicans. PLAINTIFFS: Dicks, Malish
One Federal Suit Seeking Ballot Disqualification of Republican Party
August 31, 2023 1:23-cv-00370-KJM-NONE
Plaintiffs: Dicks, Malish, Decker
Defendants: Long list
Remedy: Disband Hawaii Republican Party, give plaintiffs $25M damages. Dicks and Decker are both members of the Hawaii Libertarian State Executive Committee. (If the Republicans actually were to lose their ballot access, the Libertarians would become the second party in Hawaii.)
Outcome: Order Setting Telephonic Rule 16 Scheduling Conference is set for 09:30AM on 10/30/2023 before Magistrate Judge Kenneth J. Mansfield (who is totally overjoyed to hear this case…)
UPDATE: HIRA ENDORSES LAWSUIT