The election last weekend of the highly controversial Kristina Karamo as Michigan's new Republican chair was the latest sign that state party organizations in general are in decline and alternative vehicles for supporting candidates are on the rise.
Karamo, who has yet to concede her loss in the race for secretary of state last year, captured the GOP helm at the state party convention.
In defeating 2022 attorney general nominee Matt DePerno with 57% of the roughly 2,500 delegates, former community college professor Karamo overcame a candidate with the endorsement of Donald Trump.
But the former president promptly congratulated her, hailing her on Truth Social as a "fearless Election Denier." Along with never conceding her own 14-point defeat at the hands of Democrat Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, the new Michigan chair has long claimed that there was fraud in the counting of absentee ballots in Michigan during the 2020 presidential election, Karamo is a self-styled "anti-vaxxer," and has denounced evolution and public education.
Republican sources in Michigan predicted with certainty to Newsmax that there would soon be a "drying up" of funding for the state party organization — already in debt and operating with a drastically-reduced staff from under outgoing Chair Ron Weiser.
The monied Michigan Republicans are now expected to set up a separate super PAC dubbed a "victory committee" or "friends committee" to back its candidates.
"This will squeeze the incoming administration as an overwhelming majority of operating funds comes from major donors," according to Saul Anuzis, a former state party chair and GOP National Committeeman from the Water Wonderland.
Anuzis pointed out: "There have already been conversations of the need to set up alternative political vehicles to assist in the upcoming elections. They can use a friendly county party, a C-4 [an amorphous conduit for political contributions that can endorse candidates and may not have to disclose its donors] or super PAC.
"The governor's race and U.S. Senate race in Georgia were good examples as to how these campaigns built alternative political machines outside the state party structure."
Such a pattern is not uncommon and is becoming easier because of the Citizens United decision by the Supreme Court in 2010. Citizens United made it easier for money to be sent in unlimited amounts to candidates through separate entities. Such entities are not bound by limits in election law and permitted to accept and deploy unlimited funds.
"Whether it is a C-4 or super PAC or whatever, the transparency has turned to darkness," said former California GOP Chair Ron Nehring. "There are no annual audits and none of the regulatory rules on parties and candidates applies to them."
Even before the Citizens United case, the McCain-Feingold Act enacted by Congress and signed into law by President George W. Bush in 2002 enhanced regulation on party organizations and thus opened the door to outside groups upon which it had no effect.
"McCain-Feingold made things tougher for state party committees because it imposed many new federal rules and restrictions on them if they are helping out federal candidates in their states," Hans von Spakovsky, election law authority and senior legal fellow at The Heritage Foundation, told Newsmax, "This includes limits on what are called coordinated party expenditures.
"Independent political action committees however, have no such limitations."
As legislation and court decisions have severely weakened state party organizations, the money and the clout have begun to be shifted to outside organizations. For different reasons in different states — including the election of party chairmen who are anathema to big contributors — it appears as though this major change in the parties will continue.
John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax. For more of his reports, Go Here Now.
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