Raleigh, N.C. — Tensions within the North Carolina Republican Party boiled over this weekend, with the party's central committee approving a no confidence vote in Chairman Hasan Harnett that resulted in a censure of Harnett and banning him from party headquarters.
Party officials said the actions were in response to "actions deemed harmful to the North Carolina Republican Party, including making false and malicious statements about other Republicans and staff."
"They’re investigating internally very significant allegations that he tried to have somebody crash one of our websites and set up an alternative fundraising site," a party source said, speaking on the condition of anonymity.
Harnett, who was elected last June as the state GOP's first black chairman, called himself a "hardworking leader" in an email to reporters late Monday.
"Even though some of the Republican Anonymous may disagree with the vision God has given your Republican Chairman, he remains steadfast in serving the full North Carolina Republican electorate and the greater Republican community despite no access to my NC GOP emails and resources," Harnett wrote.
Later in the same email, Harnett wrote, "Nobody in our party likes to see fellow Republicans, including your Republican Chairman, brutally assaulted, kicked in the mouth, and gagged by unfounded truths. Most of you will say 'No volunteer in our party should be treated like this.' Your Chairman stands against and denies all allegations of hiring a hacker. Even though the Republican Anonymous may continue to mount their fiery darts, your Republican Chairman will continue to pray, 'In the name of the Lord Almighty and Jesus Christ, STOP.'"
In a letter sent last week to party members, Harnett called accusations of computer hacking "false and ridiculous."
The apparent final straw occurred at a central committee meeting Sunday when Harnett tried to unilaterally lower the ticket prices for the annual party convention.
"We don't control the costs of hotels food and all that, which has made the party's meeting increasingly expensive," said Dr. Ada Fisher, national committeewoman for the state party. "The way to change (the price) would be to call a meeting of the committee and ask to revisit that, which was not done."
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 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."
"There were some things that happened that pointed out that people don't understand the rules," Fisher said, noting that the chairman acts only as a party spokesman and isn't supposed to take a role in day-to-day operations.
In addition to banning Harnett from GOP offices on Hillsborough Street, the party shut down his official email.
The party's executive committee will meet in about a month, when they could vote to remove Harnett as chairman.
"A number of committee members talked to him about a quiet resignation to save his family personal embarrassment," the party source said, noting that Harnett refused to step down.