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Michigan GOP: Bid to limit Kristina Karamo’s authority may prompt legal action

Kristina Karamo on stage
Some Michigan Republicans want to limit the power of the state party chair, Kristina Karamo. (Bridge photo by Jonathan Oosting)
  • Michigan GOP state committee members plan ‘special meeting’ amid frustration with Chair Kristina Karamo
  • GOP lawyers blast meeting as illegitimate and warn of legal consequences for attendees
  • Draft resolutions prepared for meeting would seek to force more budget transparency, limit Karamo’s authority

LANSING — The Michigan Republican Party is threatening legal action against state committee members who plan to meet Friday and vote on resolutions demanding more transparency from the state party chair, Kristina Karamo. 

The standoff is the latest in an internal war over spending decisions by the cash-strapped state party and Karamo’s recent ouster of a budget committee chair.


Citing “destructive stress” caused by that ouster, a draft resolution prepared for the Friday meeting and obtained by Bridge Michigan seeks to bar Karamo from removing standing committee chairs without super-majority support from state committee members.


Other resolutions would require the Karamo administration to “promptly” share requested financial information with the party’s budget committee and require her to include co-chair Melinda Pego on future staff hiring or firing decisions. 

But any business conducted at the meeting — scheduled for Friday evening in rural Montcalm County — would not be “legally binding” and “shall have no effect or affect,” Michigan GOP Executive Director Jim Copas and General Counsel Dan Hartman told party members in a Thursday email obtained by Bridge. 

“Conducting such an improperly called shame (sic) meeting while inappropriately using the property, both intellectual property and personal property of MIGOP may very likely cross the lines of illegality in many areas,” they wrote. 

The meeting could also “open otherwise unknowing persons to liabilities including but not limited to civil fraud and possible even criminal fraud, if so, determined by proper authorities, which will have the opportunity to review this entire matter,” Copas and Hartman continued.

Two Michigan GOP state committee members said Thursday they still plan to attend the meeting despite the warning from the Karamo administration, which last month called its own special meeting that aimed to quell tensions but was marred by a physical fight that led to a misdemeanor criminal charge

"You can't take (action) against me because I'm going to a meeting — that doesn’t make any sense, said Fifth Congressional District Chair Jon Smith, who told Bridge he felt a responsibility to attend the meeting but isn’t sure it will accomplish much if the Karamo administration does not recognize it. 

The email from Copas and Hartman was “inappropriate” and “causes more division,” Smith said. 

The meeting, which organizers contend is legitimate because it was called by one-third of state committee members, is expected to be open to all Michigan GOP delegates and include recently fired Karamo staffers, including one who helped organize the party’s Mackinac Republican Leadership Conference in September.

John Rocha, a state committee member from Barry County, described the planned meeting as an attempt by GOP delegates to reclaim authority they believe they have under state party bylaws. 


“The ultimate authority is the people's voice — not an elected chair, not leadership, not the officers, but the people who have been elected as delegates,” Rocha told Bridge. “That is their ultimate authority, and no one resides over that.”

The drama is nothing new for the revamped Michigan GOP, whose fresh crop of delegates are mostly loyal to former President Donald Trump but have battled each other since Karamo won election in February. 

On Thursday, Clare County Prosecutor Michelle Ambrozaitis announced misdemeanor criminal charges against three Michigan GOP activists stemming from two separate physical altercations at state party meetings in April and July.

The infighting comes at a critical time for the Karamo administration, which is attempting to boost sluggish fundraising numbers, organize a biennial Mackinac leadership conference and finalize rules for a proposal to replace the 2024 presidential primary with a hybrid caucus system.

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