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Bank: Michigan GOP defaulted on $500K loan, hasn’t made payment in months

 Michgian GOP Chair Kristina Karamo speaking into the microphone
Financial struggles have fueled an effort to remove Michgian GOP Chair Kristina Karamo, who claims to remain the “undisputed” leader of the state party (Bridge photo by Jonathan Oosting)
  • Michigan GOP has failed to make loan payments for more than 120 days and ignored a demand letter, according to Comerica Bank
  • The state party is attempting to sell its former headquarters and filed suit against the bank and current owners
  • Financial woes have spurred efforts to remove Chair Kristian Karamo, who has refused to recognize results of ‘illegal’ vote

Jan. 20: Michigan GOP faction sues Karamo, picks Hoekstra to replace her
Jan. 18: Karamo demands Michigan GOP foes ‘cease and desist’ from defaming her

LANSING — The Michigan Republican Party is in default on a $500,000 loan and ignored a recent demand for immediate payment, according to a new court filing from Comerica Bank. 

“The MRP has not responded to the Demand Letter and, as of the date of this Motion, has been in default for over 120 days,” bank attorneys wrote in an Ingham County Circuit Court response as the state party seeks control of its former headquarters for potential sale.

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The bank’s renewed notice of default, dated Dec. 12, detailed more than $10,000 in accrued interest and $707 in late fines for missed payments on the $509,009 loan principal. 

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It’s the latest evidence of financial struggles for the Michigan GOP, which is mired in a leadership dispute fueled in part by the fundraising woes of Kristina Karamo, who was elected as party chair in February 2023. 

As the Feb. 27 state presidential primary nears, Karamo insists she’s still in charge of the party and deemed a recent vote by a faction of party leaders to remove her as “illegal.”

She has said she inherited a financial mess and wants to sell the party’s former headquarters in Lansing to relieve debt she says was inherited from the administration of her predecessor, Ann Arbor real estate magnate Ron Weiser. 

"It's an illusion that (the debt) is a function of the Karamo administration,” her executive director, Jim Copas, told Bridge Michigan on Wednesday. "The Karamo administration has never taken one penny or created one-cent worth of debt with Comerica.”

The Michigan GOP could pay off the debt "tomorrow if we chose to,” Copas said. But the bank has not provided the administration requested details about the loan, and “we’re not convinced it’s legitimate,” he said.

The Michigan GOP last month sued Comerica and The Michigan Republican Party Trust, which includes former party chairs who have managed the building that is formally owned by a separate entity, Seymour Street LLC. 

Comerica disclosed the Michigan GOP’s latest default notice in a response filing, asking a judge to dismiss the bank from what it’s attorneys called a “longwinded and perplexing complaint” that should be limited to the state party and building owners.

Attorneys for the MRP Trust, meanwhile, have also requested dismissal of the case, along with sanctions against Karamo and the Michigan Republican Party’s state committee. 

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The state party's general counsel, Dan Hartman, defended the litigation in a lengthy Zoom meeting for Michigan GOP delegates this month. 

The lawsuit seeks to “clarify” who owns the building and whether the debt is “legitimate,” Hartman said, calling it a “good faith” dispute courts should resolve.

“It’s not a frivolous claim,” Hartman told fellow Republicans. “This is my responsibility and fiduciary duty as general counsel to seek clarity, because the records that I have received are inconsistent.”

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