May 19, 2024

During the opening session of what was originally scheduled as a spring training meeting for state party officials, Ronna McDaniel and Drew McKissick resigned as the chair and co-chair of the Republican National Committee, and Michael Whatley and Lara Trump were unanimously elected to replace them.

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Whatley spoke briefly after taking the gavel, thanking McDaniel for being “a friend and a mentor” to him since he became an RNC member after being elected chair of the North Carolina Republican Party in 2019. Whatley was named general counsel of the RNC, thanking the members for their support of him, and expressing gratitude for the opportunity to work with Donald Trump to “revitalize our great nation.”

In her unscripted remarks, Trump recalled her time as a senior advisor to the Trump campaign and pledged to work tirelessly to elect Donald Trump in November, as well as Republicans up and down the ticket. She also announced a $100,000 contribution that was made to the RNC immediately upon the election and emphasized that she and Whatley will be getting right to work at both fundraising and providing the infrastructure and tools needed to accomplish the committee’s electoral goals.

Prior to Whatley’s election, McDaniel spoke emotionally of her seven years at the helm of the party.

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McDaniel said she’s “rooting so hard for Michael and Lara’s success” and that she is stepping aside so Trump can have his team in charge.

I’m stepping aside today because I have long promised to put the nominee and their plans for the RNC first. Winning the White House back is just too important for me to do otherwise. President Trump deserves to have the team he wants, including the RNC. When I made the decision to step aside there was no one else I supported to be the next chair more than Michael Whatley.

Since McDaniel supports Whatley so strongly, many observers have wondered if there will really be any change at the RNC or if the misplaced spending priorities, use of crony consultants instead of folks who can actually get the job done, and fundraising failures will continue. Fortunately, with this restructuring Trump is bringing in Chris LaCivita as COO, and several RNC members who spoke with RedState on condition of anonymity expressed confidence that LaCivita will bring back the fiscal responsibility that’s been missing. To do that, LaCivita will have to butt heads with Richard Walters, McDaniels’ former chief of staff and current senior advisor, who is not resigning and who has been in charge of vendor contracts for years.

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Walters’ finances came under a bit of scrutiny in early 2020 when a ProPublica report revealed that he was paid by the RNC through a shell company in addition to his salary. 

Richard Walters began his career at the lowest rungs of the Republican National Committee when he was 23. Now, at 30, he’s the RNC chief of staff, earning far more than any other official there, including his boss, the chairwoman, and the top officials at the Democratic National Committee.

The rich compensation might have raised eyebrows — but for the fact that the RNC obscured it. Last year, Walters earned a salary of $238,266, but the party paid him an additional $135,000 through a shell company he established in December 2018 called Red Wave Strategies.

At least 10 additional former RNC staffers are now being paid large sums as RNC vendors, including two who formed corporate entities and started getting paid since RedState’s last examination of RNC expenditures. Walters is also overseeing vendor contracts for the 2024 RNC Convention. The Convention has its own CEO and staff, but they were all selected by Walters and McDaniel and, according to a source within the RNC, are generally Walters’ friends. LaCivita will undoubtedly take a close look at the vendor contracts and all LLC’s being paid by the Convention.

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As of a week ago, that source told RedState that Walters does not plan on leaving the RNC and that, “If Richard Walters stays or is not forced to leave with Ronna, nothing will change. Reed was never in charge as COS.” The Washington Post reports that “the person the RNC members were most eager to meet” during a Thursday night reception for Whatley and Lara Trump was LaCivita, and who was “surrounded and getting earfuls.” There were no RNC staff members in attendance, and one RNC member who attended told RedState they were told that “Monday is going to be bloody” at the RNC building and multiple firings are anticipated.

As events unfold during the RNC meeting and into next week, we will bring them to you.

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