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RNC: Kristina Karamo ‘properly removed’ as Michigan GOP chair; review ongoing

Kristina Karamo on stage
An initial review by the Republican National Committee found that Kristina Karamo was “properly removed” as chair of the Michigan Republican Party (Bridge file photo by Jonathan Oosting)
  • National GOP attorneys find Kristina Karamo was ‘properly removed’ as Michigan GOP chair
  • Republican National Committee is not yet recognizing Pete Hoekstra, who Karamo critics chose to replace her, pending additional review
  • Karamo contends she remains state party chair after an ‘illegal’ vote to remove her

LANSING — Kristina Karamo was "properly removed" as chair of the Michigan Republican Party this month, according to an initial review by the Republican National Committee.

But the national party is not yet recognizing Pete Hoekstra as the new state party chair despite a separate vote, RNC General Counsel Michael Whatley wrote Wednesday in a letter to both Karamo and Hoekstra.

That’s because “additional information could conceivably come to light which changes (the RNC Counsel's Office) view," Wheatley wrote in the letter, obtained by Bridge Michigan. 


The letter marks the RNC's first public response to the ongoing Michigan GOP leadership dispute, which has rocked the state party amid dueling claims by competing factions, cease and desist letters and a lawsuit

The response comes as the RNC, led by former Michigan GOP Chair Ronna McDaniel, plans to convene next week in Las Vegas for its annual winter meeting, set from Jan. 30 to Feb. 3.

The national party has "limited power" to settle state party disputes, but it "unquestionably has the authority" to determine who can attend the winter meeting as a voting member, Whatley wrote. 

But absent the resolution of ongoing litigation, the RNC "is unable to conclusively rule" on whether Karamo or Hoekstra is a voting member, he added. 

As such, neither will be credentialed as Michigan GOP chair for the winter meeting in Las Vegas, but both would be allowed to attend as guests, according to the letter, which was also signed by RNC Chief Counsel Matthew Raymer.

Following the winter meeting, "a body of RNC members will move quickly to review this dispute and make such recommendation as they believe appropriate," the letter continued. 

Neither Karmamo nor Hoekstra responded to requests for immediate comment on this story. 

Citing sluggish fundraising numbers and her handling of local party disputes, one faction of the Michigan GOP state committee met on Jan. 6 and voted to remove Karamo, a gathering and outcome she deemed “illegal.”

Karamo organized a separate meeting of her own, where another faction of Michigan GOP state committee members voted to retain her. 

Last week, she issued cease and desist letters to several critics who had created a new state party website.

Several of those same critics sued Karamo on Friday in Kent County Circuit Court, asking a judge to resolve the dispute. A hearing on Karamo’s motion to dismiss the case is set for March 15.

Karamo critics met again last Saturday in Lansing, where they voted for Hoekstra to replace her as state party chair. 

Hoekstra, a former congressman from west Michigan and ambassador to The Netherlands under then-President Donald Trump, has urged the RNC to resolve the dispute.

Securing “recognition” from the national party or courts is his first priority, calling it a necessary step to lure back donors who left the state party under Karamo’s leadership, Hoekstra said after his election Saturday. 

Karamo has accused Hoekstra of “scheming with saboteurs” to undermine Michigan GOP delegates who elected her as party chair last February. 

She continues to control the state party bank accounts, email addresses and social media channels. 

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