There is no other way to write this story than in the first person and as it happened. That is because the Republican Party of Florida wanted no written or videotaped record of the proceedings I am about to relay.
One July 13, 2009 Fedex delivered to me a document simple in nature yet chilling in effect. Ten days from that date I was to appear before the RPOF ‘Grievance Committee’ for certain offenses that in all likelihood would lead to my expulsion from the party.
In a long one paragraph statement my County Chairman, Mr. Lew Oliver, described certain offenses which he deemed bad enough to warrant removing me from the party I had been a member of since I had turned 18 (I am now north of 50;-). Technical note: I could still call myself a Republican, I just could not be part of the executive committee which steers the direction of the party; something I had been a part of for the last 2 years.
The first thing that struck me about this announcement was the sloppy nature in which it was written. Constant grammatical and spelling errors occurred throughout the citation. Mr. Oliver, despite holding the highest office of the party at the county level, had yet to either learn proper English or use a word processor.
In the very first sentence he states: “Mr. Egoroff (1) engaged in ‘dirty tricks’ in the fall election by cooperating to send out a primary endorsement mailer under the fake name ‘republican victory committee’ EVEN THOUGH MR. EGOROFF HAD PREVIOUSLY BEEN SPECIFICALLY WARNED BY RPOF COUNSEL NOT TO USE THE REPUBLICAN NAME WITHOUR PERMISSION.’ Note the lack of capitalization in Republican Victory Committee and the typo in ‘withour’. Mind you, this is an official notice from Mr. Oliver.
Without going into too much detail, I refute this by saying I was never warned by RPOF about this mailer. Secondly, both the Florida Division of Elections and the Orange County Supervisor of Elections were both contacted and said there would be no problem using that name. Thirdly, I am new to the technicalities of using the word Republican which is violated every day with no repercussions.
There are more misspellings, typos, half-truths, etc., and I will reprint the whole document on my blog at http://nickegorofforlandopoliticalactivist.blogspot.com/
I had ten days to prepare for this important meeting. Fortunately, they named Doug Guetzloe, as my co-conspirator. Mr. Guetzloe has over 30 years of experience in fighting tax increases through his group Ax The Tax. He has also held many positions in the Orange County Republican Executive Committee (the official name of the organization we were both about to be booted from).
He recommended retaining legal counsel through attorney at law Fred O’Neil. Mr. O’Neil had represented Doug for many years and had even argued cases before the Florida Supreme Court. We began a fundraising appeal and Mr. O’Neil was retained.
We knew this was an uphill battle. The Grievance Committee was made up of State Chairman Jim Greer appointees. These people knew that Mr. Greer had dealt ruthlessly with opponents in the past, and undoubtedly knew what the desired outcome was. So much for having an unbiased jury!
On the day of the hearing Mr. O’Neil had suggested that we hire a court reporter to transcribe the event. We knew that if we wanted to appeal the likely negative outcome of this hearing we would want evidence of what happened that day. The RPOF lawyer said no go. This was a private hearing. No taping or transcribing.
This was a clever move on their part to cover their tracks lest one of the inquisitors, er, committee members display their bias or make any other mistake that would come back to haunt them.
Both Doug and myself had a couple of meetings with Mr. O’Neil but we can’t divulge much of the strategy because we are assuming that further legal proceedings will occur. Suffice it to say that RPOF has always maintained that it is a ‘private club’ and can do what it wants. Our premise is that America is essentially a two-party system and that both of these parties are recognized as statutory entities by the state of Florida. Their bylaws are even part of Florida Statutory Law—something that is not accorded to any other political party (check it out on the Florida Statutory Code 103).
I could go on about the juvenile behavior of one committee member who repeatedly badgered me with questions like, ‘Does Doug Guetzloe think for you? Does Doug Guetzloe tell you what to say? Does Doug Guetzloe order you around?’ Which were all questions machinegun fired at me. Each time I tried to answer the woman would shriek, “Just answer the question Mr. Egoroff!” This may be the way you talk to a child, but it is not a professional way to address a man who has successfully run his own business for 20 years.
I’ll just close with the following statement. The Republican Party of Florida needs to stop slamming the doors on people that have new ideas. The Republican Party of Florida needs to stop looking at membership like it’s joining an exclusive country club. In short, the Republican Party of Florida had better stop threatening and smearing new members or it will find itself the defendant in a civil liberties lawsuit that will shake it to the core.
P.S. I should add that this is part of a statewide purge with 10 people likely to be expelled in this round, and dozens of more 'grievances' sitting on Chairman Jim Greer's desk.
Picture of Lew Oliver doing a dirty trick on me. He was standing out in front of my poling place in August of 2008 trying to get voters not to cast their ballots for me.