Served! Party activists taking the NCGOPe to court.

Three NCGOP activists are taking their party to court over June’s calamitous state convention in Greensboro.  Mike Urben, Andrea DeHaan, and Aryn Schloemer — who all reportedly attended the June convention — have filed a motion for a preliminary injunction in Wake County Superior Court:

[…] Now come Plaintiffs, by and through counsel, and move the Court pursuant to Rule 65 of the North Carolina Rules of Civil Procedure for a preliminary injunction. In support of this motion, Plaintiffs refer to, and incorporate by reference, Plaintiffs’ Complaint for Injunctive and Declaratory Relief and Plaintiffs’ Memorandum in Support of Motion for Preliminary Injunction, to be served in advance of a hearing on this matter. In further support, Plaintiffs show the following:

1. Plaintiffs will likely prevail in a final determination on the merits. In particular, Plaintiffs are likely to show that the election (and the failure to conduct the election of the Vice- Chairman) for Chairman of the North Carolina Republican Party (the “NCGOP or Party”), which occurred on or around June 10, 2023, failed to comport with the NCGOP’s own governing documents, was defective, and resulted in the improper and illegitimate election of the now purported Chairman, Michael Whatley.

2. Plaintiffs, members of the NCGOP, suffered immediate and irreparable harm in that the NCGOP, in the process of administering the NCGOP Convention and the election for the positions of NCGOP Chairman and NCGOP Vice-Chairman, failed to follow the NCGOP’s Convention Rules and Plan of Organization, resulting in invalidity elected Party leadership. Absent injunctive relief, Plaintiffs will continue to suffer immediate and irreparable harm as an improperly elected Chairman, and improperly appointed Vice-Chairman, will purport to lead the Party for the next two years, including during a critical presidential primary election year.

3. Because administration of the 2023 NCGOP Convention, and the leadership elections conducted therein, included multiple, material violations of the NCGOP’s Plan of Organization and Convention Rules, the balance of equities weighs in favor of granting Plaintiffs the injunctive relief sought and requiring the election for Party Chairman and Vice-Chairman be conducted in a manner which comports with the NCGOP Plan of Organization.

4. The NCGOP is a major political party in the State of North Carolina, representing the political interests of more than two million North Carolinians. Granting Plaintiffs the relief sought is in the public interest.[…]

The actual complaint throws a little more meat on the ol’ barbie’ :

[…] 1. “A free society demands an honest and accurate election process,” the North Carolina Republican Party (the “NCGOP” or “Party”) recognizes in its 2022 platform. (Ex. A attached at 8.) “Our laws and policies at every level of government should ensure that elections are conducted with absolute fairness and integrity, regardless of party registration, race, or socio- economic resources.” (Id.) According to purported NCGOP Chair Michael Whatley, “there are few issues more important than election integrity and the need to restore trust in our elections.” Michael Whatley, NC voters deserve the confidence of basic ballot protections, North State Journal, June 30, 2022, confidence-of-basic-ballot-protections/.

2. On March 17, 2022, in an address to the Hoke County Republican Party Convention, Chair Whatley explained precisely what he meant by election integrity. Describing the Party’s efforts in the run-up to the 2022 election cycle, Mr. Whatley proclaimed that “in North Carolina [and] around the country we have to protect the ballot, we have got to make sure that the votes are legal and that they are counted correctly.” NC GOP Chairman Michael Whatley speaks at Hoke GOP Convention, Hoke County Republican Party, (beginning at 9:21 mark). Mr. Whatley recognized that “there are two key components to election integrity that you just have to have— 90 percent of election integrity comes down to having machines that do not and cannot connect with the internet, that have a paper ballot so that you can go back and do audits, and are made in the USA, and you have to have the Republican attorneys and observers in the room.” Id.

3. For four days in June 2023, the North Carolina Republican Party held its 2023 State Convention (the “Convention”) in Greensboro. The Convention is where top party officials are supposed to be elected. The Party previously established rules and guardrails for voting at the Convention. The NCGOP violated those rules, launching a mobile phone application which allowed votes to be cast from outside the Convention floor in the contested Chair election. The Chair election and the app failed both of Mr. Whatley’s “key components for election integrity”—the Party conducted the vote over the Internet and failed to use paper ballots making an audit impossible. The Chair election votes, to use Mr. Whatley’s words, were neither “legal” in that they didn’t comply with the Party’s own voting rules, nor were they “counted correctly.” To make matters even worse, the Party improperly adjourned without holding an election for Vice Chair, re-installing the incumbent for an additional two-year term. Plaintiffs—loyal Republicans all—and others have asked for answers regarding what happened in Greensboro but have only been stonewalled.

4. Faced with no other choice, Plaintiffs bring this lawsuit to get the NCGOP to follow its own rules. The record is clear—the Party repeatedly violated its own Plan of Organization and Convention Rules during the 2023 Convention. The NCGOP is not The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. North Carolina courts have consistently required private associations of less public significance than the NCGOP to follow their own rules and governing policies. This case is not about substantive policy questions, but rather whether the Party met its election integrity commitments in its own operations. Under North Carolina’s Uniform Unincorporated Associations Act, this Court has authority to grant the relief Plaintiffs are seeking here.

5. With a presidential primary election less than one year away, ensuring the legitimacy of the NCGOP’s leadership is important not just to Plaintiffs or North Carolina Republicans, but all North Carolinians and even all Americans. The Party Chair has a significant role to play in the primary, as the person responsible for submitting candidate lists and receiving vote certifications. It is in everyone’s interest, including the NCGOP’s, to address what happened in Greensboro at the 2023 Convention. A new leadership election, which the NCGOP’s Plan of Organization contemplates, is the only path forward. […]

The lead counsel for the plaintiffs represented journalist – and COVID vaccine critic – Alex Berenson in his lawsuit against Twitter.  (So, I think he can pretty likely handle the NCGOP. )