Fiery court testimony amid effort to remove Karamo as Michigan GOP chair

Kristina Karamo preliminary injunction hearing
Posted at 1:36 PM, Feb 21, 2024
and last updated 2024-02-21 17:56:33-05

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Attorneys for Michigan GOP leadership and Kristina Karamo were in a Kent County courtroom Wednesday morning for a fiery exchange of words. Members of the state Republican party filed a lawsuit against Karamo, seeking to have the courts say she has been properly removed from her position as state party chairperson.

Both groups claim to be in charge of the Michigan Republican Party.

Kristina Karamo was elected chair of the state Republican party in February 2023. The former community college instructor, rose through Michigan’s Republican ranks by spreading election conspiracies after the 2020 presidential election. She eventually was backed by former President Donald Trump in her run for secretary of state in 2022, losing by 14 percentage points ina result that she still refuses to concede.

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On January 6, 2024, a number of party members convened a meeting where they voted to remove Karamo.

READ: Fundraising, leadership woes drive call for change in Michigan GOP
READ: State Republicans oust chairwoman in special meeting vote
READ: Karamo fighting back against removal vote

Former Ambassador to the Netherlands Pete Hoekstra was elected to take her place on January 20.

Michigan GOP Nominating Convention
FILE - Michigan Republican Party chair Pete Hoekstra listens to Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump at a campaign rally in Waterford Township, Mich., Saturday, Feb. 17, 2024. Michigan Republicans are planning dueling presidential nominating conventions that will take place March 2, even though the national Republican Party said members properly removed former chair Kristina Karamo and recognized former Congressman Hoekstra as the party's new chair. Hoekstra announced Tuesday, Feb. 20, that he would hold a presidential nominating convention in Grand Rapids on the same day Karamo and her backers plan to hold one in Detroit. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya, File)

Karamo maintains that she is still party chair, claiming those voting for her ouster did so without properly following party bylaws.

A lawsuit filed on January 19 by a number of people within the state party asked the courts to validate that Karamo was in fact removed properly.

RELATED: Michigan GOP members sue Karamo over party leadership dispute

They are seeking to get Karamo to return access to party bank accounts, social media accounts, and email accounts.

While the case continues moving through the legal process, the plaintiffs have asked for a preliminary injunction against Karamo. If granted, the injunction could order Karamo to stop acting as the party chair while the judge weighs the full arguments of the lawsuit.

Testimony Wednesday morning in front of Judge J. Joseph Rossi centered on the possible injunction.

All of the questioning centered around whether or not party bylaws were being properly followed at the January 6 meeting in question.

Ann Delisle was asked about her participation in calling party members before the meeting, during, and afterwards.

A contributing author on a book called Robert’s Rules of Order, which outlines parliamentary procedure, was the second person questioned Wednesday.

In mid-January the Republican National Committee released an initial review that said Karamo was properly removed.

READ: National Republican Party weighs in on Michigan GOP infighting
READ: Karamo camp: 'Business as usual' despite RNC review

“Although the RNC has limited power under its Rules to issue binding determinations in internal state party disputes, it unquestionably has the authority to determine, for its own purposes, who its voting members are,” a letter from the RNC’s general counsel to Karamo and Hoekstra read.

“Based upon its initial review, it appears to the Counsel's Office that Ms. Karamo was properly removed in accordance with the MIGOP Bylaws on January 6. That said, the Counsel's Office's determination is not dispositive, and it recognizes that additional information could conceivably come to light which changes its view.”

The RNC decided not to credention Karamo or Hoekstra as MIGOP Chair for their winter meeting in Las Vegas.

Hoekstra told FOX 17 on January 24, “We’re appreciative of the RNC’s ruling. We’ve got a lot of work to do and now we’ve got the credentials to do it.”

Several days later, on January 30, Karamo said in a statement, “RNC leadership is colluding with members of a faction of just 37% of the state committee, individuals of Michigan’s consultant class, and Ambassador Pete Hoekstra to unlawfully remove me as chair and install him in my place.”

“This not only violates the will of the majority of the Michigan Republican Party State Central Committee but undermines the will of Michigan Republican Party precinct delegates who elected me.”

Last week the Republican National Convention formally recognized Hoekstra as the party chair on February 14. Karamo called the decision a "biased ruling."

RELATED: RNC says Hoekstra is chair of Michigan Republicans
RELATED: Competing state GOP conventions scheduled

Karamo is planning to hold a State District Convention on March 2 in Detroit. Hoekstra has called for the State District Convention to be held the same day, but in Grand Rapids.

Delegates will vote on a Presidential candidate, and elect congressional district delegates for the Republican National Convention in July.

Testimony in the hearing is expected to resume Thursday morning. A decision the motion for an injunction would come at some point afterwards

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