Just as the fall election season is about to begin, the Bucks County Republican Committee and the state GOP, along with the party officers, were hit with a lawsuit by a Hatfield man who ran for party chair last year and lost.
First filed in July in Common Pleas Court, withdrawn, then refiled last Friday, the suit by Barry Casper and some 50 other local party members allege the Bucks committee did not have proper bylaws in place for the June 2022 election, when Pat Poprik was reelected party chair.
“This is so much sour grapes,” said Poprik. “He ran for state committee. Our voters rejected him. He did not win…Then he ran against me on the day of our election. He ran for chairman. He lost 302-100. I mean, substantial…So after I beat him for chair, he turns around and runs for vice chair…And he ran, and we beat him again. So, this man has been beaten by the voters and by the committee people, but he just won’t stop.
“This is sour grapes, and he’s blaming his loss on our bylaws,” said Poprik. “He should look in the mirror.”
Andrew Teitelman, who represents Casper, said it is more complicated than that, claiming the bylaws are bogus.
As a nonprofit, the Bucks GOP cannot have proxy voting, Teitelman said. Yet he said proxy voting took place. Also, he claimed there are no “valid bylaws” on file with the Board of Elections or the state GOP.
Also, the Bucks’ bylaws date to 1972, he said. Back then, there were no word processors, only typewriters.
“We know because of the type style, (the bylaws) were not done on an IBM Selectric or other typewriter,” said Teitelman. “The style of the footer you’re looking at…on that document was something mostly found in the 1990s and is still used to this day.”
“So, there is something wrong with that,” he said. But later, he said a different copy of the bylaws, done on a typewriter, replaced the previous copy two weeks after they raised questions. Before filing the lawsuit, they had also filed an ethics complaint with the state GOP in January. But, “they brushed it under the rug, saying they did not feel it was within their purview.”
DVJournal asked Teitelman why his client was filing a lawsuit now with a county election looming.
“We’re always coming up on an election,” he said. He noted 50 committee members are a sizable portion of the 400 total.
Joel Frank, the lawyer representing the Bucks County GOP, said, “We believe the lawsuit to be baseless, and it will certainly be vigorously defended by the Bucks County Republican Committee and its officers.”
Poprik said, “This is not something we need now. Believe me; we’re going to defend this right now. I’m focused on the election, and that’s what I’m going to focus on…They don’t like our bylaws. That’s the bottom line. But that’s what they are. They’ve worked since 1967. These are the bylaws we have.”
Teitelman said, “I know what I signed isn’t frivolous.”
As a remedy, the plaintiffs are asking the court to require that Casper be installed as chair instead of Poprik or appoint interim officers and have the party form a committee to rewrite its bylaws and then hold another election.
“We probably would have been satisfied with a negotiated settlement, but they’re ignoring us,” said Teitelman, who is handling the case pro bono. “They’re giving us the middle finger. We had no choice but to proceed to court. Otherwise, there’s no remedy at all.”