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Controversy over a secret society within Idaho's GOP continued Thursday afternoon in Bonneville County Court.
The fourth judge assigned to the case denied the petition to depose individuals Doyle Beck and Bryan Smith believe have information about the secret group.
Initially the judge approved the petition to depose state GOP Chairman Steve Yates and six others.
Here's a response from the chairman and five others named in the petition: "We are pleased that the judge reconsidered and dismissed the Smith and
Beck petition. We regret it was filed in secret. We regret the March hearing was held without notice or involvement of those whose constitutional rights were at stake."
Beck and Smith claim there's a "secret society" in play to get them out of their positions.
Beck currently serves as the Bonneville County GOP committee chairman and Smith serves as the Region Seven GOP chairman.
Christ Troupis tell Local News 8/Eyewitness News that Rule 11 makes it difficult to file a lawsuit in this case.
"Rule 11 says we have to know who we are suing and we have to have a basis against them.
So we said that we'd like to find that information out before we sue anybody. So we asked for their depositions. They don't want their depositions leaving us no alternative but to sue everybody and then call out the ones who aren't liable. Well the ones that aren't liable will come back and say well you should have determined whether we were liable or not before we filed the lawsuit but they've not prevented us from doing that," Troupis said.
"The only thing that ties together the group of names they have targeted is Smith and Beck’s suspicion that each may be involved in political
activity at odds with Smith and Beck’s ambitions," said chairman Yates and five others named in the petition.
Troupis said the motion to reconsider on behalf of the seven is suspicious.
"It's a lot more expensive and time-consuming and involved to file motions and fight all of this if you've got nothing but a few questions to answer. Answer the questions and be done with it. I have to believe there is something more going on then we're just protecting our constitutional rights. I don't think you have a constitutional right in a civil case to refuse to say to answer a few questions. There's no criminal prosecution going on. there's no First Amendment rights that are at stake here," said Troupis.
However, state GOP Chairman Steve Yates and five others named in the petition seem to think differently.
In fact, the chairman has repeatedly told Local News 8/Eyewitness News that he doesn't need to be deposed to answer questions.
Here's what he told us Thursday night: "I don't buy that because you are innocent, you should subject yourself to your rights being violated. They may believe in a surveillance state, but I and most Republicans do not."
The chairman and five others named in the petition question the validity of the campaign document in question.
After court they released this statement: "None of the targets of Smith and Beck’s actions is involved in any secret group. Some hold no party office at all and owe nothing to Smith and Beck. Some are officers in the counties in which they reside. Some are involved in local political activity, and have every right to do so free of any inquisition conducted by Smith or Beck. None of us knows whether the Idaho Prosperity Project even exists. In fact, we all suspect it is not real."
"These are not real friendly jokes, if they are jokes. Everything is taken very seriously and we're dealing with people's reputations that they take very seriously. My clients reputations were at stake. So if it was a joke it was in terrible taste," Troupis said.
"None of the targets of Smith and Beck's legal bullying has done anything wrong. None has anything to hide. All have every reason to resist this liberal use of the courts by Smith and Beck to engage in their political
witch hunt," said Yates.
Some named in the petition said they will have more to say about the situation in the coming days.
Here's a link to the denied petition.