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Saline County Republicans say former state GOP chair evicted them

The Saline County Republican Committee was evicted from this building in downtown Benton.
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The Saline County Republican Committee was evicted from this building, owned by former Republican Party of Arkansas Chair Doyle Webb, in downtown Benton.

The Saline County Republican Committee says they were kicked out of a property owned by the former head of the state GOP.

The Republican Party of Saline County is a nonprofit corporation led by Doyle Webb, former chair of the Republican Party of Arkansas, and headquartered in downtown Benton.

The Saline County Republican Committee is an advocacy group that meets regularly at the Republican Party of Saline County building which they did not own. Webb is a former Republican state senator and candidate for lieutenant governor, who currently serves as chair of the Arkansas Public Service Commission.

Webb said he evicted the group because they fell short on a deal to pay property insurance. He said he also disagreed with recent ideological decisions the group has made. This comes amid ongoing tensions among Saline County Republicans.

Webb said he made a deal with the committee to let them meet at the building as long as they paid taxes and insurance coverage. But, he said the group stopped paying insurance.

“The committee endangered the investment in our property,” a spokesman for Webb said in a statement sent to Little Rock Public Radio on behalf of the Republican Party of Saline County.

The Saline County Republican Committee shot back in a statement of their own on Instagram Wednesday, saying “with any dispute, there are two sides.”

The group says they are the actual decision-making arm of the Republican Party of Saline County, which they insist is just a corporate name.

“We now hold every position on the Executive Committee, save one” the statement said. “Our full committee meetings have grown from a few dozen in attendance to an average of over 120.”

The group alleged Webb is attempting to “tarnish” the committee.

“The ever-shrinking establishment-wing has demeaned and ridiculed the 'everyday Arkansans,'” the statement said

The Saline County Republican Committee says, as ”America-first patriots,” they should have a “bottom up approach” to politics “putting people first.” They say "establishment" members of the party want to and make decisions on behalf of the party members.

Webb says he has grown to disagree with recent decisions made by the group, saying the committee has begun to "take a strange turn" over the past year.

He listed different decisions he disagreed with, such as allegedly having closed-door meetings before regularly scheduled committee meetings. In May, the Saline County Republican Committee put forth a vote of no confidence for Republican U.S. Rep. French Hill, as well as Sens. Tom Cotton and John Boozman.

The statement released after the vote said the lawmakers have “voted to further cripple the middle class by sending billions and billions of our tax dollars to Ukraine.”

Saline County Republicans say they plan to continue meeting despite the eviction, which takes effect on July 7 at 5:00 p.m.

“We will continue to operate just as we always have, pushing President Trump's robust America-First agenda throughout the county,” the groups said.

This comes after several major changes for the Arkansas GOP. In June, the Republican Party of Arkansas voted to close their convention. That means only registered Republicans will be allowed to vote in the Republican primary, undoing a longstanding policy in Arkansas allowing for open primaries.

At the same convention, the group voted to unseat state party chairman Joseph Wood, replacing him with conservative lawyer Jennifer Lancaster. During the convention and after, she echoed sentiments similar to the Saline County Republicans' “bottom-up approach.”

Josie Lenora is the Politics/Government Reporter for Little Rock Public Radio.