Years of infighting among Clark County Republicans took another turn this week, with concern over an appointment leading to at least one resignation and several other denouncements from party officials.
Dan Clark, a precinct committee officer with the party, was previously convicted after repeatedly sneaking into a teenage girl’s bedroom and having a relationship with her.
On Tuesday, he was elected chair of the party’s Bylaws and Resolutions Committee with 70 percent of the vote in a secret ballot, according to an email from Clark County Republican Chair Earl Bowerman obtained by The Columbian.
The 10 voters had previous knowledge of Clark’s criminal past, the email said.
Clark emailed a statement saying “no comment” late Thursday in response to an inquiry from The Columbian. Bowerman could not be reached for additional comment.
Over a two-month period in 2010, and despite a previously filed restraining order preventing him from contacting her, Clark repeatedly snuck into a 15-year-old girl’s bedroom in the Sherwood neighborhood, according to an affidavit of probable cause filed in Clark County Superior Court.
After tapping on the window to grab the girl’s attention and using a folding metal chair to enter the room, Clark — 43 at the time — and the girl would hug and kiss on her bed, the affidavit said.
Clark and the girl would also read poems and consume alcohol, and he gave her a cellphone that allowed them to communicate, according to the affidavit. The girl told police that, “he loves her, wants to marry her” and provided her with a wedding dress magazine, the affidavit said.
Clark was arrested on suspicion of 10 counts of residential burglary with sexual motivation, according to court records. He was later convicted of residential burglary, violation of a civil anti-harassment order and furnishing alcohol to minors, and he was sentenced to roughly nine months in jail.
Several local Republicans — including state Sen. Ann Rivers, R-La Center, and Clark County Councilor John Blom — have expressed their displeasure with Clark’s appointment.
“What is wrong with the local Clark County GOP? I want nothing further to do with it. It is more like a cult than a political party,” read a post on Rivers’ Facebook page. “With all the Jeffrey Epstein revelations, have we learned nothing? Girls who have been groomed and exploited need for someone to make a stand for them.
“I want nothing to do with these people, their situational ethics not only disgust but astound me. The party leadership needs to do the right thing and fix this problem. As we try to attract more young people, we don’t need to be known as the ‘happy hunting grounds’ for sick individuals who like underage girls.”
Blom, also a precinct committee officer with the local GOP, submitted a resignation letter Thursday to Bowerman.
“I want no part in an organization that knowingly and willingly allows individuals that prey on minors into positions of power,” Blom wrote in the letter.
Several other current and former party officials also spoke out against Clark’s appointment. PCO Steve Nelson called the appointment “shocking and disappointing.”
“I’m very sad and truly disturbed with how this is being handled,” Nelson said.