Headline, Politics

RNC infected with “crony capitalism”: Harmeet Dhillon

RNC chair’s Indian American challenger vows a shake-up to win elections in 2024

Two days before the Republican National Committee (RNC) election, Indian American attorney Harmeet Dhillon, who has challenged RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel, vowed a shake-up and promised a new strategy to win elections.

A supporter of former President Donald Trump, Dhillon told The Washington Times she is concerned that “crony capitalism” has infected the Republican National Committee and is sapping the energy and innovation the party needs to win elections in 2024.

Read: Harmeet Dhillon alleges bigoted attacks owing to her Sikh faith (January 17, 2023)

Dhillon said she would lead a full audit to find out who was hired and why to prepare for a shake-up after several disappointing election cycles.

Breaking with Trump, who has said voting before Election Day invites fraud, Dhillon said the RNC needs to take a more proactive approach to promote early voting and ballot harvesting. Her plan.

“Our focus must shift from persuading voters on Election Day to chasing ballots as early as possible,” Dhillon told The Times in an interview. She called it “crazy” to insist that voters wait until Election Day to cast their ballots in person.

Dhillon said it was a mistake for Republicans not to do more to bank early votes. “President Trump has his opinion on this, but the leader of the RNC, his job is to do what’s best for all Republicans,” she said.

Some analysts, the Times noted, blamed Trump’s opposition to early voting for the party’s struggles in 2020 and 2022. Democrats pushed voters to cast ballots early, giving them an easier Election Day task than Republicans, who had only a few hours to motivate their base en masse.

“The fact is, we must make a change,” Dhillon told the Times. “What I’ve been sitting here and seeing for six years is our party consistently losing, and so staying the course means staying a course that has us losing elections.”

She said a greater emphasis on finances, elections and messaging would help restore confidence in the national party.

McDaniel, a niece of Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah, is seeking an unprecedented fourth term as chair.

She was tapped by Trump in 2017 after serving as 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 stayed neutral in the current race for RNC chair.

Read: Republican donors backing Dhillon for RNC chair: Report (January 11, 2023)

McDaniel has raised $1.5 billion for the RNC during her tenure as chairwoman. 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 its money’s worth from a “couple of dozen” consulting firms that the RNC has used in recent years.

“The lack of change suggests to me a form of crony capitalism. That is, people are hiring their friends and not being critical about them and not holding them to benchmarks,” she said.

She said some limited liability corporation outfits are walking away with tens of millions of dollars in contracts. “I suspect we’re going to find there’s overlap between the owners of those corporations and other vendors,” she said.

RNC members are scheduled to vote in a secret ballot Friday at a luxury resort overlooking the Pacific Ocean in Dana Point, California.

Caroline Wren — a veteran Republican Party fundraiser told The Times that McDaniel has been shedding support while Dhillon has landed high-profile endorsements from Fox News hosts Tucker Carlson and Laura Ingraham and onetime Trump White House adviser Steve Bannon.

Read: Harmeet Dhillon warns of ‘crony capitalism’ at RNC, breaks with Trump on early voting (January 24, 2023)

Dhillon also has the support of major Republican donors such as Home Depot co-founder Bernie Marcus and Richard Uihlein, co-founder of the shipping supplies giant Uline.

“The grassroots are vehemently behind Harmeet Dhillon,” Wren said. Dhillon refused to say how deep her support runs. Her website shows that she has sewn up the support of 28 RNC members, though she says others are privately in her camp but not willing to go public for fear of retribution. “My realistic vote count goes up on a daily basis,” she said.

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