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GOP Sued for ‘Conspiring’ Against Fla. Voters

(CN) — A GOP activist sued the Republican National Committee and others claiming they conspired to strip Florida voters of their right to choose the party's next candidate for president.

Plaintiff Larry Klayman — a Boca Raton lawyer and the founder of the conservative group Freedom Watch — filed his lawsuit in the Leon County Circuit Court.

Those named as defendants include

GOP chairman Reince Priebus, the Republican Party of Florida, its chairman Blaise Ingoglia, and Florida's Secretary of State. Ken Detzner.

In his complaint, Klayman claims "The defendants fraudulently held out to Florida voters and the public at large that their votes cast at the Florida Republican Presidential Primary would be counted and not nullified in nominating a presidential candidate."

"In fact, defendants are conspiring to make delegates free to disregard the popular vote and support whichever candidate they desire after the first ballot of the Republican National Convention," the complaint says.

Wadi Gaitan, spokesman for the Florida GOP, declined to comment on the lawsuit, but said the state's 99 delegates — who were secured by candidate Donald Trump in the March 15, winner-take-all primary election — are bound by party rules to support Trump through three ballots at the convention.

That means that should Trump fail to win the necessary 1,237 delegates to secure the nomination on the first ballot, and multiple ballots ensue, after the third such tally, Florida delegates would then be free to support whoever they wish.

Many other states have rules unbinding their delegates during earlier ballots. Thirty-one states bind their delegates only on the first ballot, while seven bind theirs only through the second ballot.

In conventions past, both the DNC and RNC have made last-minute changes to rules in an attempt to skew results, and Trump supporters are acutely aware of this. Worried about how unbound delegates might stray from their candidate, the billionaire real estate mogul's supporters in several states have made menacing phone calls to party officials, demanding that their delegates support Trump.

Gaitan said that regardless of any changes the RNC might make, Florida's 99 delegates will go to Trump through the third ballot. "There will not be any attempt to change the rules by the Republican Party of Florida in the scenario of an open convention," he said.

Klayman says that assurance doesn't sway him, and that the state's delegates should be required to support the voters' choice indefinitely.

"Votes cast by Florida citizens and taxpayers are diluted, disenfranchised and nullified, and subsequently, Florida Republican voters are substantially deprived of their fundamental right to vote," he says.

That right, Klayman says, is stated plainly in Florida Statute 103.101(1): "Any party rule directing the vote of delegates at national nominating conventions shall reasonably reflect the results of the presidential preference primary, if one is held."

Klayman says he's hopeful that his lawsuit will set a precedent for Republican voters in other states to take similar actions.

"We cannot allow Republican establishment party hacks to take away our constitutional right," he said.

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