GOP lawyer criticizes state chairman's behavior

Posted April 1, 2016

Hasan Harnett was elected as chairman of the North Carolina Republican Party on June 6, 2015. Photo taken from harnettforchair.com.

— The North Carolina Republican Party's top lawyer this week accused state party Chairman Hasan Harnett of trying to "circumvent" party rules, part of an ongoing feud within the GOP's leadership.

This latest salvo comes in the run-up to a decisive month of meetings for state party leaders, who will be selecting delegates to send to the Republican National Convention.

"At a time when the NCGOP should be focused on preparing for the November election, the focus of the NCGOP staff and executive director have been monopolized by relentless attacks and multiple crises caused by their own Chairman and his confederates," Thomas Stark wrote.

Harnett said Friday he would have a response to the letter from GOP General Counsel Thomas Stark, but as of 5 p.m. had not yet provided it.

In the past, he has decried the ongoing conflict, saying that his ability to manage the state party has been hobbled by the conflict.

"I hate that this internal conflict has boiled over and gone public. I have tried for many weeks to get this resolved privately. My name and reputation have been attacked. I am a volunteer chairman. I sacrifice my time, honor and fortune for this party. I want nothing more than it to grow and be a successful organization," Harnett wrote previously.

Harnett was elected party chairman last summer and was broadly viewed as the choice of grass roots activists. Last fall, he clashed on and off with Raleigh-based "establishment" leaders, but by January there appeared to be detente within the party leadership.

That changed last month when Harnett clashed with the party's central committee, a small group of senior leaders, over arrangements for the state convention and other conflicts. Harnett was accused of attempting to wrest control of the party's web site and finances from executive director Dallas Woodhouse and other staffers through hacking, a charge Harnett flatly denied. The committee censured Harnett and revoked his access to party headquarters and his party-issued email account.

In response, Harnett has said that a "Republican Anonymous" was "scheming and working against me," and used a PowerPoint slide presentation to refute the charges.

Since then, Republican bloggers and activists friendly to Harnett have continued to blast away at other party leaders, accusing them of bucking the direction of the grassroots in favor of doing the bidding of the national Republican Party.

Harnett has accused Woodhouse and other establishment leaders of racism and entrapment, while the central committee has largely remained silent over the past week, hoping to bring the party's family business back behind closed doors.

That changed on Wednesday, shortly after Harnett called for a meeting of the GOP's executive committee on April 9. Unlike the central committee, the executive committee is made up of hundreds of leaders from across the state. Many of them were scheduled to be at district conventions on April 9, the same day Harnett wanted the broader body to meet.

"The call to meet on this date disenfranchises one third of the Executive Committee and creates numerous problems for the grassroots Republicans from all over NC," the district chairmen wrote to Harnett.

The following day, Republican Party General Counsel Thomas Stark sent his own five-page missive to members of the executive committee. It also decried the proposed April 9 meeting but went further, accusing Harnett of working against the GOP's interest.

"By their public statements, it appears that Chairman Harnett and those aligned with him in this matter no longer desire to work with the North Carolina Republican Party but would rather malign the Central Committee and the character of the current Executive Director," Stark wrote. His letter lays out the party's investigation into the hacking allegations and the ongoing conflict with Harnett.


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