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After Her Removal Vote, Karamo: ‘I Am the Chair’

January 9, 2024

(COMMERCE TWP.) — A special meeting of the Michigan Republican Party State Committee members voted to remove Chair Kristina Karamo and three other party officials from their positions.

In a 40-5 secret ballot vote, with General Counsel Dan Hartman present and voting, Karamo was removed. Hartman himself was also removed, along with Executive Director Jim Copas and Robert Owens. Bree Moeggenberg, an organizer of the meeting and 2nd District State Committee member, said the legal paperwork has already been started to hand over the keys.

Hassan Nehme, vice chair of coalition building, said he voted to remove Karamo as chair because she gave him “no information, no contacts, no help, and no support,” and that he’s not the only vice chair who experienced that. He said his vote was also motivated by a lack of fundraising and listening to constituent issues.

“We’re all unified today in voting against the chair to remove her. It’s brought our party together. She brought the party together one way or another,” Nehme said.

However, a defiant Karamo said the meeting was not held within the bylaws and the actions taken were not valid.

“I am the chair of the Michigan Republican Party. These individuals had no legal authority to conduct business as the Michigan Republican Party. Therefore, their conduct is unlawful,” Karamo told MIRS.

An email sent from the Michigan Republican Party dubbed the gathering as illegitimate and composed of a “small fringe fraction of the State Committee.” Highlights of the message include the misspellings of now-acting party Chair Malinda Pego’s name, referred to instead as “Melinda,” and Karamo’s opponent for chair back in February, Matt DePerno, referred to as “Daperno.”

Swift and decisive action will be taken “to hold all participants in today’s attempted coup accountable to the fullest extent allowed under the rules of the Michigan Republican Party bylaws,” the email said.

From an MIGOP News email address, the party said state committee members will elect new leaders to fill vacated positions in the next 30 days. Warren Carpenter, a precinct delegate, said there will be an interview process that will end with a vote. Carpenter was originally a Karamo supporter, but said that this serves as a learning experience.

“This is the first time in the history of the party that the grassroots has totally taken over. And now, the grassroots, we’re the fastest to ever correct a mistake. We didn’t wait a cycle, we handled our business,” Carpenter said.

On the social media platform X, the MIGOP account said “the allegations that Chairwoman Kristina Karamo has been removed are categorically FALSE.”

Pego said in a statement that petitions with the required signatures to meet and vote on Karamo’s removal were submitted accordingly and pursuant to party bylaws before the vote.

Moeggenberg said the removal vote was the first step to engage and protect the various voices and liberties of all Michigan Republicans.

“We have made history today with over 88% of the members that were present and voting,” Moeggenberg said.

On Friday night, Karamo held a meeting with county chairs to discuss Saturday’s meeting and Hartman hosted a forum to review any legal concerns that members of the party had. Mark Forton, Macomb County Republican Chair, said the Karamo team was trying to deter people from attending Saturday’s meeting. It didn’t work, he said.

Hartman, himself, showed up to the meeting, which shows he recognized its existence, Forton said.

“It’s unfortunate. It’s not a happy day. It’s miserable for me. Life is gonna be miserable in my own county. But you gotta do the right thing,” Forton said. “It’s all about the next election. It’s all about the truth. And the more we dug into the truth, we didn’t like it.”

A bylaw amendment passed lowering the vote required to remove an officer from 75% of the State Committee to 60%, though it was later established that the removal votes could have taken place without it. Karamo’s removal vote was the only secret ballot.

For the bylaw amendment to pass, several proxy voters were present. However, proxies cannot vote on officer removal and they cannot sign onto the removal petitions. In total, between members and proxies, there were 71 voters on the bylaw amendment.

Darlene DoetzelTenth District State Committee member and Sandy Wheeler, a Macomb County delegate, allege that Tenth District Chair Barb Zinner provided proxies for them without their consent. They said they were told by Hartman about the voting proxies.

Article III, Section I of the party bylaws states that in the event of a District member’s vacancy, their District chairman or remaining members of that Congressional District “may select a registered voter from their Congressional District to fill the vacancy for that meeting only.”

Doetzel ended up attending the meeting and voting against Karamo’s removal. She said the meeting was not legitimate, but that she felt compelled to come and vote because Zimmer had put a proxy in for her.

Doetzel said Karamo was taking the party in a positive direction and that she was the best thing that happened to the Republican Party. She said as a result of the removal vote Republicans will lose races in 2024 because voters think the party is failing.

However, Doetzel said the vote to remove Karamo was racially charged because she is a Black Christian woman. “They don’t want that,” she said.

After hearing that Doetzel said Karamo was removed for race-based reasons, Outreach Vice Chair Rola Makki said if there was a race or religion issue, she would not have won at the convention in February.

“I’m clearly a Muslim. I stood out in that room. There was no other person that had covered their hair in the room of 3,000 people, and I won 57% of the votes in the first round. If there’s a race or religion issue in the party, tell me why I would be voted in.”

Several Karamo supporters gathered outside the meeting and stayed for the entire duration. Braden Giacobazzia member of the State Committee, said his reason for standing outside the meeting in protest was to advocate for election integrity.

“The voices of two or three thousand delegates is now going to be crushed and drowned out by people who held an illegitimate meeting and have the ear of all of the national leftist and mainstream media,” Giacobazzi said. “What we have here in Michigan is our own Great Lakes, Midwest Donald Trump whose #1 goal is to promote election integrity,” Giacobazzi said.

Karamo’s Future Plans

Karamo told MIRS she is still holding her Jan. 13 special meeting of the state committee, and that she does expect to have a quorum.

She has introduced the “Better Political Representation” motion to be taken up at the meeting that would give precinct delegates via caucus the power to nominate and elect candidates for all partisan positions except their own and the presidency to appear on the general ballot in November. This move would replace the primary election process on behalf of voters and aligns with Karamo’s campaign promise to return the party to precinct delegates.

The rules for this process must be written, passed and published by the policy committee by Feb. 12.

Several current and former state legislators and other influential Republicans have expressed their disapproval of the idea.

“This is a terrible idea. Karamo needs to resign,” DePerno said.

Senate Minority Leader Sen. Aric Nesbitt (R-Lawton) reposted that MCL 168.534 is the Michigan election law violated by the proposal.

Former Lt. Gov. Brian CALLEY said Democrats could file for and take over Republican precinct delegate seats in the most populous areas under this plan.

Former Republican gubernatorial nominee Tudor Dixon said the party has a responsibility to support candidates nominated by voters.

“None of what is transpiring now is going to accomplish any of those objectives,” Dixon said in a statement.


Article courtesy MIRS News for SBAM’s Lansing Watchdog newsletter

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