Harmeet Dhillon warns of ‘crony capitalism’ in RNC, breaks with Trump on early voting

Harmeet Dhillon said she is concerned that “crony capitalism” has infected the Republican National Committee, robbing it of the energy and innovation the party needs if it is to win elections in 2024.

Ms Dhillon, who is aiming to remove current RNC chair Ronna McDaniel when the committee meets in California this week, said she will conduct a full audit to see who was hired and why, and to come up with a plan to change things. after several disappointing election cycles.

In an interview with The Washington Times, Ms. Dhillon argued that the RNC needs a more proactive approach to promoting early voting and ballot collection, breaking with former President Donald Trump, who said voting before Election Day invites to fraud.

“Our focus needs to shift from persuading voters on Election Day to chasing ballots as soon as possible,” Dhillon said, calling it “crazy” to insist that voters cast their ballots in person on Election Day.

She said it was a mistake for the party not to do more to rack up early votes.

“President Trump has his say on this, but as the leader of the RNC, your job is to do what’s best for all Republicans,” he said.

Some analysts blamed Trump’s opposition to early voting for the party’s struggles in 2020 and 2022. Democrats pressured voters to cast their ballots early, making it easier for them on Election Day than Republicans. , who needed to motivate their base en masse in just a few hours.

The GOP’s performance in those past two elections has exposed party flaws that fueled an ugly fight over Rep. Kevin McCarthy’s quest to become House speaker and looms over the RNC’s race.

“The fact is that we must make a change,” Ms Dhillon told The Times. “What I have been sitting here and watching for six years is that our party loses constantly, and therefore staying the course means staying a course that loses us elections.”

He said that a greater emphasis on finances, elections and messaging will help restore confidence in the national party.

Ms. McDaniel, the niece of Utah Senator Mitt Romney, is seeking an unprecedented fourth term as president. Trump first named her in 2017 after serving as the chair of the Michigan Republican Party and helping put her state in the Republican column in 2016 for the first time in a presidential race since the 1980s.

Trump has remained neutral in the current RNC presidential race, though Dhillon said many people involved in his campaign have vouched for McDaniel.

Ms. McDaniel has raised $1.5 billion for the RNC during her tenure as president.

Ms Dhillon said the RNC needs to be more transparent about how the money has been spent. She told The Times that an audit would show whether the party is getting the best bang for its buck from the “couple of dozen” consulting firms the RNC has relied on in recent years.

“The lack of change suggests to me a form of crony capitalism, meaning people hire their friends, don’t criticize them and don’t benchmark them,” he said.

She said some Limited Liability Corporation teams are walking away with tens of millions of dollars in contracts. “I suspect that we are going to find that there is overlap between the owners of those corporations and other providers,” she said.

Allies of Ms McDaniel point out that Ms Dhillon earned $1.3 million working as a party consultant in recent years.

Ms. McDaniel remains the heavy favorite to win. After the November election, she had more than 100 members of the 168-member RNC backing her candidacy.

RNC members will vote in a secret ballot Friday at a luxury resort overlooking the Pacific Ocean in Dana Point, California. MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell, an ardent supporter of Trump’s stolen election claims, is also running for the NCR presidency.

Ms. McDaniel has blamed the GOP’s electoral setbacks on untested candidates, as well as shoddy advice given by consultants in key races, including in the Arizona Senate and gubernatorial races.

One such consultant, Caroline Wren, a veteran GOP fundraiser known for her combative style and who served as an adviser to Kari Lake’s failed gubernatorial bid, is now fighting to elect Ms. Dhillon.

Ms Wren told The Times that Ms McDaniel has been losing support, while Ms Dhillon has garnered high-profile endorsements from Fox News presenters Tucker Carlson and Laura Ingraham, as well as former House adviser White Trump, Stephen K. Bannon.

Ms. Dhillon also has the support of major GOP donors including Home Depot co-founder Bernie Marcus and Richard Uihlein, co-founder of shipping supply giant Uline.

“The grassroots are vehemently behind Harmeet Dhillon,” Ms Wren said.

For her part, Ms Dhillon declined to say how deep her support runs. Her website shows that she has garnered the support of 28 NCR members, though she says that others are privately in her camp but are unwilling to go public for fear of retaliation.

“My realistic vote count is increasing daily,” he said.

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