Sunday, August 26, 2007

GOP Names Nudist to Leadership in Arizona

Above: a photo from Shangri-La Ranch, not a GOP convention.
August 25, 2007

Nudist named to Arizona GOP committee

Paul Giblin, Tribune

Arizona’s Republican Party named Horst Kroust, the owner of a nudist resort in New River, to the party’s finance committee, a move that is drawing criticism from Democrats because the resort allows nude children to mingle with other nude children and adults.

Shangri La Ranch’s Web site offers this assessment of the facility: “Shangri La Ranch is one of the finest clothingoptional, family-oriented, year round recreational facilities in the Western United States. We emphasize the freedom of choice. You select the activity that suits you — from quiet relaxation to recreation.”

The resort also offered a weeklong camp for children in 2003. The camp was like other youth camps, except that the campers were naked, Kroust said.

Criticism by Democrats is unwarranted, Kroust said.

“Why is it their business?” he said. “This is absolutely absurd. What do those people think they are?”

The resort’s Web site on Friday included photos of nude adults lounging at a pool, gardening, playing sand volleyball and participating in other activities. One photo shows a child, though the photo is cropped tightly to show just the child’s head and shoulders.

About 60 families are staying at the resort, though no underage children were at the facility Friday, Kroust said in a telephone interview.

“I don’t know what the obsession with naked children is,” he said.

State GOP party spokesman Brett Mecum said Kroust was named to the finance committee on the basis that he has donated $5,000 to the party.

“Anyone who gives $5,000 or more to the Arizona Republican Party is an automatic member of the finance committee,” he said. Kroust also has recruited a number of new volunteers and registered voters to the party.

Mecum said he has little dealings with the committee and he didn’t know when Kroust was admitted to the committee, how many members the committee has or whether admittance has criteria other than hitting the $5,000 threshold.

GOP chairman Randy Pullen was not available for comment directly. Mecum said Pullen feels it’s appropriate to give Kroust a place within the state party’s leadership structure on the basis that he is a legitimate business owner.

Democrats were quick to criticize the appointment.

“If this doesn’t tell you what the Arizona Republican Party really thinks about family values, I don’t know what does,” said Emily Bittner, communications director of the Arizona Democratic Party.

The Republican Party countered the Democrats have little standing on family values, considering former President Bill Clinton is an admitted adulterer..”


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