Raleigh, N.C. — Six days after the North Carolina Republican Party censured Chairman Hasan Harnett and banned him from party headquarters in Raleigh, Harnett fired back Friday, saying he plans to keep fighting party insiders.
"I have been met with opposition from the day I was elected. People have been scheming and working against me, but I am not going to sit down and shut up. The establishment wants to limit involvement in our party and shut out the grassroots so it is easier to control," Harnett wrote in a letter to GOP members.
The Republican Party's central committee on Sunday approved a no confidence vote against Harnett, who was elected last June as the state GOP's first black chairman.
Party officials said the action was in response to "actions deemed harmful to the North Carolina Republican Party, including making false and malicious statements about other Republicans and staff."
Officials accused him of trying to have someone hack into the party website and divert funds to a separate site, an allegation Harnett has vehemently denied.
"I never solicited nor ordered the website to be hacked," he wrote in the letter, which included PowerPoint slides showing text messages he says back up his story.
Harnett said that, after GOP Executive Director Dallas Woodhouse locked him out of his official email account and party databases in February, a website coordinator for the Republican Party in the 3rd Congressional District contacted him and suggested he could help get Harnett back into the system.
Party officials also were upset that Harnett tried to unilaterally lower the ticket prices to the GOP's annual convention.
The censure resolution noted that Harnett's ticket prices caused "great confusion and consternation among delegates" and undermined the authority of the GOP's central committee and executive committee.
"The current defamation of my character started with a dispute over who has authority under the Plan of Organization to set the delegate fees. The Plan of Organization authorizes me to call the convention. A reasonable person would assume a call to any meeting includes time, location and cost. My call to the convention did just that," Harnett wrote in his letter, noting that he had pledged to keep costs low when he was elected.
The censure resolution also cited Harnett for wasting staff and volunteer time by taking actions outside of party rules and creating "an uncertain and disrespectful environment" that lowered morale and led to staff turnover. He also was cited for posting statements online about the party's internal affairs "in a way that discredits the NCGOP and misrepresents facts."
"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.
"I hope that we can move past this. I pray for Dallas Woodhouse and the Central Committee. Even with the extreme untrue allegations against me, I still believe we are all on the same team," he wrote.
Woodhouse disputed Harnett's account of the events but said he didn't want to comment further.
"The court of public opinion is not the proper place to deal with these issues. This is an internal party matter between the Chairman and the Governing Central and Executive Committees," Woodhouse said in an email to WRAL News. "It is safe to say I highly dispute the Chairman's public statements and assertion of facts not in evidence and believe they are unhelpful in resolving these issues."
The party's executive committee will meet in about a month, when they could vote to remove Harnett as chairman.