The embattled chairman of the Republican Party of Palm Beach County formally resigned his position Thursday night, effective immediately.
In an email released to BizPac Review that is also being sent to the members of the Republican Executive Committee, Chairman Ira Sabin announced:
To the REC membership,
I hereby resign my position as Chairman of the Palm Beach County Republican Party effective immediately.
I am also resigning my position as Committeeman from Precinct 5128 also effective immediately.
It has been my honor to serve as your Chairman.
Sabin, who was elected in December 2012 by a narrow margin after serving a term as treasurer, was facing a near-unanimous vote of no confidence from the county GOP’s Board of Directors at an upcoming meeting Tuesday.
BizPac Review obtained the following resolution calling for Sabin’s resignation, which was to be presented for a vote at Tuesday’s board meeting:
Resolution of the Board of Directors calling for Ira Sabin to resign as Chairman of the Palm Beach County Party
After due consideration, the Board of the Republican Party of Palm Beach County urges Ira Sabin to resign as Chairman.
SO SAY WE ALL this ____ day of ______ 2013
Five signatures had already been collected as of Thursday afternoon, and according to sources who spoke to BizPac Review, the board had near-unanimous verbal support from voting board members heading into the meeting.
Sabin had been plagued by controversy since taking the reins from former Chairman Sid Dinerstein, who served in the post for 10 years.
Rumors had circulated for months that Sabin’s abrasive personality had alienated the party’s major, longtime donors, forcing the cash-strapped party in June to close its office and cut the hours of its two full-time employees.
Sabin’s inability to fundraise for the party was one of the main reasons he faced calls for his resignation.
Most recently, though, Sabin was said to have overstepped his bounds as chairman when he allegedly attempted to stop a delegation of Palm Beach County Republicans from traveling to Haiti as part of an outreach effort.
A conservative group in Haiti invited Palm Beach County Republican Party Vice Chairman Michael Barnett, who coordinates the party’s minority outreach programs; members of the GOP Haitian Caucus; St. Lucie County Commission Chairman Tod Mowery; and Diana Ramos, regional director for the Republican Party of Florida, to an outreach meeting with top conservatives in Haiti. The group was also tentatively scheduled to meet with Haiti’s governor and president.
Barnett extended an invitation to Sabin, who at first said he would like to attend, but hours later attempted to stop the group from taking the trip.
Sources told BizPac Review that Sabin sent an email to the invited members of the Haitian trip, saying the Republican Party of Florida did not want the trip to go forward and that Barnett had no authority to speak on behalf of the Republican Party of Palm Beach County. Sabin threatened to contact the U.S. Embassy.
But sources said state Republican Party leaders fully supported the trip, and even allowed one of their employees to attend, because it is the kind of minority outreach effort the national party wants to make before the 2014 midterm elections.
The county party’s board and Republican Executive Committee members were mostly gracious in accepting Sabin’s resignation, with many looking forward to moving ahead into 2014.
“I want to thank Ira for his years of service to the Republican Party of Palm Beach County,” Florida’s Republican National Committeeman Peter Feaman said in a statement to BizPac Review. “As Treasurer and Chairman, he has worked tirelessly and with the utmost integrity. I hope he stays active in the Party, as he has much to offer.”
GOP Director of Programming Phil Nicozisis, a longtime donor who had been at odds with Sabin over fundraising and who had called for his resignation in June, is ready to see the party move forward into the coming year.
“While unfortunate, this is the right thing to do so we can put the local party back together and be productive and prosperous again,” Nicozisis told BizPac Review.
“Regrettably, there have been several incidents over the past few months involving the chairman that created a divisive atmosphere,” a former REC member who did not want to be named said Thursday night. “For myself, I look forward to returning to the REC and the party moving forward under new leadership.”
Barnett will take over the reins as interim chairman, but sources said he plans to call for a special election as soon as possible.
Barnett is still in Haiti and was unavailable for comment.
Sabin’s term would have expired in December 2014.
*Update: A previous version of this story stated Republican Party of St. Lucie County Chairman William Paterson attended the trip to Haiti. Although Paterson was invited, BizPac Review has learned Mowery attended from St. Lucie County.
**2nd Update: Monday’s usual board meeting had recently been changed by Sabin to Tuesday, October 1.