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County GOP sues alleged impostor

Nonprofit committee posed as county GOP, lawsuit claims

Three members of the Butler PA Patriots group temporarily are forbidden from using the name “Butler County Republican Committee” after a county judge issued a preliminary injunction Wednesday.

The injunction comes after the Butler County Republican Committee sued a nonprofit by the same name, claiming the nonprofit is trying to “deceive or commit a fraud not only on the public at large, but the state Republican Party.”

A lawsuit filed May 4 in Butler County Common Pleas Court alleges that Bill Halle, a member of the Butler Area School Board, Erik Edwards and Zachary Scherer incorporated a nonprofit by the name “Butler County Republican Committee” with no relation to the actual committee.

“Absent approval by the state Republican Party, which includes filing bylaws with the state Republican Party ... no other entity is permitted to use the name ‘Butler County Republican Committee,’” the lawsuit claims.

A hearing on the committee’s motion for an injunction will be held May 10 before President Judge S. Michael Yeager, who issued the preliminary injunction Wednesday.

After registering the committee as a nonprofit, the county GOP alleges, Halle, Edwards and Scherer solicited and received donations to the nonprofit, advertised the nonprofit as the real county GOP and endorsed candidates using the committee’s name.

In reality, the county GOP claims, donors thought they were contributing to it, and the plaintiff did not endorse the candidates backed by the nonprofit. This, it alleges, harms the committee, political candidates and the public at large.

“By unlawfully appropriating (the committee’s) name, defendants are attempting to tortiously acquire (the committee’s) reputation in the hopes of gain at the expense of” the committee, the lawsuit alleges. “By copying (the committee’s) name, the public and potentially political candidates could be confused, which would promote deceit and would result in material damage to” the committee.

Halle is not a member of the county Republican committee, the committee claims. In fact, the committee earlier in 2022 removed Halle from the group because he supported a Democratic candidate for school board.

Scherer is similarly not a county GOP committee member and is running for a seat with the Pennylvania Republican Committee. He is a member of the Butler PA Patriots.

The county committee asked the Common Pleas Court to prevent Halle, Edwards and Scherer from using the committee’s name, cause the nonprofit to be dissolved and account for donations received by the nonprofit.