ROSWELL, N.M. (KRQE) – On January 14, the Republican Party of Chaves County will hold their biennial convention for routine business: to elect officers. But a newer closed-door policy is leading to a social media stir.

A Roswell Daily Record reporter first highlighted the policy change on Twitter Wednesday, noting that the Chaves County GOP is slated to hold its upcoming convention without the press. In a phone call with KRQE News 13 Thursday, the party confirmed this year’s meeting is closed to the general public.

On Twitter, several people have responded to the news, one writing, “a convention that does not all[ow] press? How many people are expected to attend?” Upon learning that the meeting was closed to both guests and the media, another Twitter user drew similarities between closed-door conventions and suspicious organizations. But the chairman for the Republican Party of Chaves County says they aren’t trying to hide anything.

“What do you think’s going on other than we’re conducting our biennial organization meeting?” Eric Coll, the chairman for the Republican Party of Chaves County, asks. He told KRQE News 13 that the main point of the meeting is to elect Party leadership, something that is internal business, and not necessarily something the general public needs access to.

“It’s the business of the Republican Party,” Coll says. It’s “who we elect and how we get there.”

The decision to close the meeting to the public and press was set in the 2023 Convention Special Rules. Every two years, the Party is required to have a biennial convention to elect a board of directors and officers. One of the things that’s different this time around is the new policy, which is mentioned on the main page of the party’s website.

Coll says that in at least some previous conventions, members of the press were allowed. And he says that in the future, it’s possible that they’ll revise the policy and open the meetings again.

But for now, he explains that just as (non-governmental) businesses often have closed business meetings, it makes sense for the Republican Party of Chaves County to conduct its internal business in a closed meeting. He adds that even his wife, who’s registered in Texas, won’t be allowed to attend unless she changes her registration.

Coll adds that the Chaves County Party isn’t the only county Republican Party considering switching to a members-only policy. But Coll says he will release some info about the Party election results via press release after the convention.