There is one thing almost every Michigan republican insider I’ve spoken to agrees on: there is a civil war within the party. It’s hard to imagine that the current status of the MI GOP could be worse or that this could come at a worse time.
Kristina Karamo may have had honest and good intentions, but the outcome of her tragically poor decisions and dictatorial leadership have caused more harm to the MI GOP than democrats ever could.
As with any failing organization, blame must go to the top. But Karamo is doubling down, vowing on Fox 2 last night that she will never resign and threatening to take the party to court if they try to remove her, claiming they do not have the legal authority to do so.
Dawn Beattie, a state committee member, wrote in an email to fellow republicans, “If I would have known that Kristina Karamo would have turned out to be such a tyrannical incompetent dumpster fire, I would never have worked so hard to get her elected. For that, I apologize.”
This situation is a terrible mess. It will only be solved if republicans can come together.
Before exploring solutions, we need to examine the problem. The following information comes from a current member of the MI GOP executive committee with direct knowledge of the state’s affairs.
- There is currently around $60,000 in the bank. On a normal presidential election year at this time there would be between $15-25 million.
- The party is unable to pay its debts. The credit line to Comerica Bank is over $500,000 and interest payments are past due. Instead of paying the $17,000 in back interest to keep the line open, Karamo has filed a suit against Comerica on the grounds that the debt was inherited from the prior party leadership so the party shouldn’t be liable for it.
- There are numerous other debts the party has refused or failed to pay, including the food and beverage bill from the Grand Hotel in Mackinac from this past summer’s conference there exceeding $170,000.
- Karamo has stated publicly on multiple occasions she does not want donations from large donors. She claimed when she was elected that she would raise $50 million from the grassroots. Two party insiders have confirmed to me that she has rejected donation offers from large donors. The party has received between $8,000-16,000 per month from small donors.
- The party’s real estate holdings are owned in a trust, established so future party leaders could not encumber them with debt and risk losing them to foreclosure. Karamo is suing the trust for the right to borrow against these real estate holdings.
- After the prior state treasurer resigned last summer, a new treasurer was hired for $1000 per month. Since then, the new treasurer has failed to provide financial transparency with the standard financial reports that the party bylaws require.
- All MI GOP employee salaries, including Karamo’s, are currently in deferment.
- In November’s state election, two democrat state representatives won mayoral races, making the state house an even 50/50 split between democrats and republicans. The state has not deployed any personnel or financial resources to these districts in an attempt to win seats in these districts, which could potentially win back the house for republicans.
- The last two executive committee meetings were held online instead of in person, and Karamo prevented debate by keeping participants muted. She has consistently lambasted anyone who offers criticism, engaging in name calling and attacking their character instead of debating issues.
For many executive committee members who previously supported Karamo, the last straw occurred on December 2, 2023, when a meeting was scheduled to occur at a church building in Commerce, MI. The church reneged on hosting the meeting the day prior due to protests planned by a pro-Israel group that Karamo had refused to support. Another location was secured at no cost. At 2:00am, Karamo sent an email declaring the meeting would be held on Microsoft Teams instead of in person.
Many attendees, who had driven long distances, did not receive this email until they arrived at the newly secured location. Enough executive committee members arrived at that location to establish a quorum (minimum required number of members for a board to officially conduct business). Karamo did not have a quorum on her Teams call. The group at the physical location offered to Karamo to join the call if she agreed not to mute them. She refused.
Following Karamo’s effective refusal to allow debate, the group called a meeting to order and after some debate determined that they would call for a special meeting where she could attend and have the opportunity to speak and defend herself. That meeting was initially scheduled for Dec. 27, but was rescheduled for this coming weekend due to the holidays.
Karamo appeared in an extremely heated shouting match of a debate on Fox 2 yesterday where she fiercely defended herself by interrupting and loudly speaking over her opponent, making emotional appeals instead of factually reasoned arguments and attacking the character of those who want to remove her.
To me, she comes across as a toxic tyrant fighting for self-preservation instead of seeking what’s truly best for the party. I encourage you to watch the exchange and come to your own conclusions.
As I began to investigate this situation, I was extremely sympathetic toward Karamo. I was personally pleased with her election as a populist, conservative choice. After living through the actual, proven government and media conspiracy to strip us of rights so basic as the right to breathe fresh air without a mask covering our faces and determined for ourselves what kind of medicines will enter our bodies, I, like many of us, developed a strong anti-establishment bias. Karamo spoke effectively to this bias, and she still does to many people who continue to support her.
Investigating this situation has been sorrowful for me, as it might be to you if you are a republican voter learning about this for the first time. It’s caused me to both look within and to look above.
What I’ve realized is this self-destruction of the GOP is not just Karamo’s fault. It is all of ours. I have seen in Karamo my own pride in similar situations, fighting ferociously to be right and to grasp for control. I have seen in Karamo how I have harmed my own relationships in similar ways.
As cartoonist Walt Kelly famously wrote, “I have seen the enemy and he is us.”
The reason we are in this situation is ultimately because of pride, and nearly all of us are similarly guilty in some way. The solution therefore must involve humility and repentance.
This needs to be followed by commitments to transparency, accountability, and encouragement of maximum public participation.
The GOP is designed to promote grassroots power and influence through elected local precinct delegates, who have all the power to elect county, district, and state party officials.
It is this design that enabled precinct delegates to put Karamo into power even against the fierce opposition of republican party insiders and donors. And it will enable us to change course if we can come together, humbly seek to magnify our common ground instead of our differences and openly and peacefully debate, seeking the truth instead of our own way.
Karamo has told multiple media outlets in recent weeks that the party needs to unify. She had demonstrated that her pride will prevent her from being able to put the needs of the party first. She is toxic to the party and must be immediately removed from leadership. Then it is up to us to lay down our arms, reconcile with each other, and work together to save this state and our nation.