For the first time in recent years, Idaho Democrats closed their official convention proceedings to family members of delegates as well as members of the media Saturday. The move was initiated by party vice chair Jeanne Buell of Worley, who said she was only moving forward with closure due to concerns expressed to her by some delegates.
Delegates and family members have spent Friday and Saturday at the Coeur d’Alene Casino in Worley listening to stump speeches from various candidates and re-examining the party’s platform in several committee meetings. All meetings were open to the general public until Saturday afternoon, when the party met as whole for a final time to decide what it would put in its platform. As the meeting began, Buell said that some delegates had expressed concerns to her about a member of the media who had taped a speech by A.K. Lienhart-Minnick earlier in the day. Buell asked delegates if they would prefer to go into a more-secure executive session, meaning that all people in the room who were not delegates or members of the platform committee would be forced to leave. Delegates voted almost unanimously – there was a single dissenting vote – to expel all non-official persons in the room.
After the vote was taken, the spouses of several delegates and one member of the media, a reporter from IdahoReporter.com, left the room upon Buell’s urging. The issue didn’t end there, however. Some in the room questioned the reasoning behind’s Buell move, and sources within the Idaho Democratic Party say that Buell referred to the reporter from IdahoReporter.com as “not a true friend of the party.” Several delegates motioned only minutes later in the meeting to re-open proceedings to family and the press, but that move was defeated by a majority vote.
Jim Hansen, executive director for the party, said that the move was not unprecedented, but that it was the first time he had seen it done in years.