The state's largest organization of Republican women expelled El Paso County GOP Chairwoman Vickie Tonkins from its ranks this week for failing to support Republican candidates in last year's election.
In a nearly unanimous vote on Sunday, the Colorado Federation of Republican Women's governing board adopted a resolution barring Tonkins from belonging to the group or any of its local or national affiliates, officials with the club told Colorado Politics.
Prior to the vote, Tonkins was president of one of the Colorado Springs-area chapters of the group, which counts more than 800 members statewide in 27 local federations. The state group's action removes her from that position.
The group said Tonkins crossed the line last fall when she told radio listeners that she wouldn't "vote for the lesser of two evils" and instead encouraged voters to choose other candidates.
The resolution also cited a county party meeting Tonkins called days before the November election, when she publicly condemned numerous local GOP candidates and a group of volunteers "in the strongest possible terms."
Both actions were contrary to the federation's bylaws, which require that members work to elect Republicans, the resolution states.
Tonkins, who was elected in February to a second two-year term chairing the county GOP, blasted the move in an email to Colorado Politics.
“A continuation of lies perpetrated by the same people whose only goal is to destroy those they do not like," she said.
Last year, Tonkins proposed changing the rules to let the county GOP "remove" and censure Republicans who strayed from the party line, but central committee members didn't adopt the proposals.
The Colorado Republican Party formally censured Tonkins late last year for attacking the GOP nominees and volunteers who organized their own voter-turnout effort amid complaints the county party, led by Tonkins, wasn't supporting some Republican candidates.
Colorado Republican Party Chairman Dave Williams, a former Colorado Springs legislator who won election to run the state party last month, however, objected to the move by the women's group.
"It’s unfortunate the CFRW leadership would choose to be petty against a popular Republican who was just reelected by overwhelming margins, especially considering that Vickie was unable to attend and defend herself during their proceeding," Williams said in a text message.
"The CFRW leadership should focus on defeating Democrats instead of attacking their own."
Two of the federation's officers, who spoke on condition of anonymity out of fear of reprisals, said the group was forced to take action.
This organization is run by bylaws," one said. "A lot of people may not think that, but that’s the way it is. This is a basic tenant of the organization — you support Republican candidates, and you don’t pick and choose which ones that you do. It’s cut-and-dry."
The other officer put it bluntly.
"We had to stop this," she said. "Vickie was embarrassing Republicans, hurting us. When you disparage Republican candidates just four days before an election, this is egregious behavior, and we decided, no more, we have to take care of it."
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