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Contested nonprofit must dissolve, judge rules

County GOP suit says group used its name

Three members of the Butler PA Patriots group must dissolve a nonprofit they named the “Butler County Republican Committee,” a county judge ruled Wednesday.

Following a nearly two-hour hearing on Tuesday, President Judge S. Michael Yeager issued a preliminary injunction Wednesday prohibiting Bill Halle, Erik Edwards and Zach Scherer from using the committee’s name “for any purpose whatsoever” and requiring the trio withdraw their fictitious name registration and dissolve their nonprofit using the committee’s name.

In ordering the preliminary injunction, Yeager determined it is likely the established committee is “likely to prevail on the merits” of a lawsuit they filed last week in Butler County Common Pleas Court. The committee alleged Edwards, Halle and Scherer misappropriated the committee’s name, possibly to raise funds and endorse candidates.

The trio unsuccessfully argued on Tuesday that the established committee did not have exclusive rights to the name “Butler County Republican Committee” because the committee did not file certified bylaws with the state Republican Party and with the county elections board.

While much of the nearly two-hour-long hearing was taken up by Halle’s testimony and examination of witnesses, including county committee chairman Al Lindsay and state party general counsel Tom King, Yeager bluntly told Halle at one point that Halle had not established any of his arguments.

The injunction is in place until the final determination of the issues alleged in the established committee’s lawsuit. The committee, in addition to a permanent injunction, wants an accounting of the nonprofit’s actions, including any donations received, advertisements paid for and endorsements given using the committee’s name.