LANSING – Michigan Republican Party Chairwoman, Kristian Karamo, is finding herself at odds with many of her district party leaders. Karamo is on the verge of being ousted as the party’s leader due to swirling allegations made in a letter sent out on December 28, 2023 by leaders in the Michigan Republican Party. These allegations include, but are not limited to, the neglect of party finances, suspicious use of funds, high staff turnover, irreconcilable FEC reports, and the hiring of two individuals with financial felonies.
Karamo was the top pick in 2021 for the Michigan Republican Party chair, which was led by a mostly grassroots portion of the party, after her bid for Michigan Secretary of State came up short against Jocelyn Benson.
With high expectations, the state party elected Karamo as their chair and found themselves hopeful for the future of the party. However, those hopes have been short lived as disappointment through her current tenure has proven to be the status quo.
The party’s financial woes are steep. Karamo had promised to raise $50 million by expanding the party’s donor pool and using her network to increase and maintain donors. According to sources in the party, at this point they’ve failed to secure new donors or retain the ones they had.
The Detroit News obtained bank records that showed as of August 2023 the party had a cumulative $35k in their accounts. The party is also in default on a $500k line of credit from Bank of America.
In a financial report released by a Republican businessman earlier this month, the party is at the verge of bankruptcy as their debt is in the ballpark of $620,000.
Karamo’s challengers say she hasn’t done anything to fundraise or find donors. At this point, their revenue is grim and in a desperate situation.
There are 13 congressional districts in the state and of those 13, eight chairpersons; Susan Allor (Chair, District 1), Andrew Sebolt (Chair, District 2), JD Glaser (Chair, District 5), Daniel Wholihan (Chair, District 7), Anne DeLisle (Chair, District 8), Barb Zinner (Chair, District 10), William Rauwerdink (Chair, District 11) and Jessica Toth (Chair, District 12) signed a letter asking Karamo to step down from her position. The letter stated, “Please put an end to the chaos in our party. Please have the grace, courage, and love of our state to accept the fact that at this most critical time in or nation’s history, the Michigan Republican Party needs someone else in leadership.”
The letter to Karamo went on to say, “The Republican Mackinac Conference suffered a significant decline in attendance and prestige under your direction. For the first time, only one of ten presidential candidates chose to attend, and we had to actually pay for speakers. Excessive speaking fees and the questionable handling of payments have raised significant ethical and financial issues, along with allegations of serious campaign finance violations. Borrowing $110,000 from your Executive Director’s wife for just one of those fees in August and not informing the Budget Committee about the loan until October is of particular concern.”
The party’s co-chair Malinda Pego, who was Karamo’s running mate, has seemingly joined the 8 districts’ efforts in unseating Karamo. In an email she stated, “Due to a series of decisions and actions, there is a growing consensus among party members that a thorough review of the chair’s position is both necessary and appropriate.
Pego continued, “It is critical in our elected representative system, our state committee members thoroughly review all information available and diligently assess the information. We need to make decisions that resonate with the sentiments of our delegates and every Republican voter in Michigan.”
A petition is currently circulating by Michigan Republicans. The petition needs 50% of the 100 members of the Michigan Republican Party’s state committee to force a vote to remove Karamo as chairwoman. The petition circulators said they are close to that 50%.
There is also currently a push for a meeting this coming Wednesday to discuss the removal of Karamo. Karamo stated she will not recognize this meeting if it takes place.
On Saturday, December 23, 2023, Kristina Karamo sent out a Christmas message in which she stated, “I ask that my fellow Michigan Republicans come together through differences and disagreements like iron sharpening iron. It is truly an honor to serve as chairwoman for the Michigan Republican Party, and I am fully committed to working with my fellow Michiganders to ensure victory in 2024.”
How exactly Karamo plans to secure that victory with the financial crisis she is currently in with her party is uncertain. Party members say the discord within the party will have to be resolved and speedy fundraising are the only sure routes to navigate a victory in the coming elections in 2024.
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