Indiana GOP leaders received a series of threats over the weekend
The party selected its 57 delegates to the national convention Wednesday morning
The Indiana Republican Party on Thursday released the names of its 57 delegates to the national convention, reversing course on its initial decision to withhold the names until they were certified by the Republican National Committee.
The decision comes just days after state party leaders reported receiving threatening emails. Indiana State Police investigated the emails, but announced Wednesday they were not criminal.
Indiana party leaders selected 27 of their 57 delegates in private Wednesday. The selections were made ahead of the state’s May 3 primary because the RNC requires delegate names be submitted at least 45 days before the convention in Cleveland.
Indiana’s list includes top party fundraisers, former party chairmen, lawmakers and Eric Turner, Indiana’s former House speaker pro tem, who resigned in 2014 after an Associated Press investigation found he was using his House seat to protect millions of dollars in profits.
Many delegates appear to be supporters of John Kasich, and one delegate is co-chair of Donald Trump’s campaign in Indiana – but many more appear unaffiliated. Most of Indiana’s Republican powerbrokers had been backing Jeb Bush until he dropped out in February.
“Our delegates are loyal to Hoosiers, and your voice will be heard in our primary election on May 3,” Indiana Republican Party Chairman Jeff Cardwell said in a statement Thursday afternoon. “Once again, we encourage everyone to engage in the process and vote. We strongly believe in the election process and every vote counts.”
A spokeswoman did not immediately explain Thursday why the party reversed course and decided to release the names now.
After the delegates were selected Wednesday morning, state party officials began calling them individually to let them know they would be attending the convention in Cleveland, one Indiana delegate told CNN. The delegates were told to brace for a flood of attention from the press and the campaigns, added the delegate, who spoke to CNN on condition of anonymity to discuss a private conversation.
Party leaders report threats
Indiana party leaders said they were threatened over the weekend after telling Politico they saw no reason to help Donald Trump supporters win those delegate spots. It was not clear if the threats came from Trump supporters.
“You know traditional burial is polluting the planet. Tom hope the family is well. Your name and info has been given to me on a list that is about to go public. Good luck becoming a delegate, we are watching,” read a threat that Indiana’s 7th District Chairman Tom John posted to Twitter.
The Trump campaign in Indiana denounced the threats.
“They’re deplorable and we condemn any kind of act of intimidation or any kind of threat. There’s no place for that in politics,” Trump Indiana co-chairman Tony Samuel told CNN.
RNC Committeeman John Hammond and veteran Indiana Republican operative Kyle Babcock also told The Indianapolis Star they received threats.
State Police looked into the threats but determined they constituted political speech.
“The Indiana State Police has completed a review of messages alleged to have been threatening toward some Indiana delegates that will be attending the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio. The messages brought to the attention of the Indiana State Police constitute political speech and do not rise to the level of being criminal in nature,” Capt. Dave Bursten, a State Police spokesman, said in a statement.
The stakes to win over actual delegates – and not just support on the first ballot – have grown exponentially for all three remaining campaigns as a contested convention appears increasingly likely in Cleveland.
Indiana’s 57 delegates will be bound, or committed, to Trump, Kasich or Texas Sen. Ted Cruz for one ballot in Cleveland based on election results. But after that, they will be free to vote for any candidate they like.
Indiana party leaders selected their delegates Wednesday morning, but decided to send the names of each delegate to the Republican National Committee for certification before releasing those names, Craig Dunn, chairman of Indiana’s 4th District, said Wednesday.
All of the state’s delegates were bracing for a deluge of attention once their names are released, he said.
“When that information gets out, those 57 delegates and alternates are going to be hounded,” said Dunn, who also received threatening emails, though he said none were bordering on a death threat.