The accusation was flatly denied by GOP leaders, who suggested the Paul campaign is looking for a way to discredit the caucuses if the Texas congressman loses.

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The Ron Paul presidential campaign, suspicious of the Republican establishment, has accused top Washington GOP officials of “shenanigans” in delegate appointments ahead of Saturday’s precinct caucuses.

The accusation was flatly denied by GOP leaders, who suggested the Paul campaign is looking for a way to discredit the caucuses if the Texas congressman loses.

In a letter to party leaders Wednesday, Paul campaign lawyer David Warrington alleged “substantial irregularities” in the selection of precinct-committee officers (PCOs) in King County.

PCOs are important because they run caucuses and become automatic delegates to the county and legislative-district conventions that will help determine how to allocate Washington’s 43 delegates to the Republican National Convention this summer in Tampa, Fla.

While PCOs are normally elected, vacant positions can be filled through appointments by party leaders.

The Paul campaign raises the suspicion that King County GOP Chairwoman Lori Sotelo may have violated party rules and appointed PCOs after a Dec. 14 deadline — presumably to stave off a Paul victory here.

The Paul letter notes that the King County GOP has refused to make public the list of appointed PCOs before Friday.

Warrington wrote that the Paul campaign will try to contact all the appointed PCOs and, if it finds any were improperly appointed, will try to prevent the seating of any King County delegates at the national convention.

“Should this blatant attempt to corrupt the process continue in King County, or anywhere else, the Paul Campaign will pursue all of the legal remedies to ensure that the process is fair and legal,” Warrington wrote.

With 2,600 precincts in King County, potentially hundreds of delegates are at stake in the dispute, though Sotelo would not say Wednesday exactly how many PCO vacancies she filled with appointments.

Sotelo and State GOP Chairman Kirby Wilbur rejected the Paul accusations and said all the presidential campaigns have been treated equally. Sotelo added that no PCOs were appointed after the Dec. 14 deadline.

Sotelo said she’s never worked against the Paul campaign, but she anticipated his campaign would trot out conspiracy theories before the Saturday caucuses. She pointed to similar accusations in other states, as well as disruptive behavior of some Paul supporters at the state’s 2008 caucuses.

“I think they are looking for a way to discredit the process,” Sotelo said.

Asked why the PCO list was not made available sooner, Sotelo said the list is primarily for internal party use, and that none of the other presidential campaigns complained.

Jim Brunner: 206-515-5628 or jbrunner@seattletimes.com. On Twitter @Jim_Brunner.