NCGOP Counsel Sends Letter To Executive Committee

Thomas H. Stark, NCGOP General Counsel, has sent a letter to all NCGOP Executive Committee members.  We have received a copy of this letter, and find several interesting claims there.  For example:

The Chairman and his confederates, however, have chosen a different path. They have released numerous public statements that, in my view, contain inappropriate, vitriolic and inaccurate information.

Certainly no one on the Central Committee has done that, right?  For example we have this and this.

And then we have the interesting case of Dr. Kenneth Robol.  While Dr. Robol admits that it was he who had…

…unilaterally reached out to Chairman Harnett about accessing the Party website. Dr. Robol had read conversations on social media claiming Chairman Harnett had been wrongfully locked out of the Party’s website. As a result of these statements on social media, Dr. Robol contacted Mr. Rufty to volunteer his services. Dr. Robol was then put into contact with Chairman Harnett.

Dr. Robol told me he came forward to another member of the Party after his conversation with Chairman Harnett because the Chairman asked him to assist with what appeared to be an
illegal act. Specifically, Dr. Robol told me that Chairman Harnett asked him to hack the Party website and assist in setting up a competing site that would receive the convention fees, under the
direct control of the Chairman. My law office then obtained a sworn statement from Dr. Robol.

A sworn statement that, to our knowledge, has not been seen outside Mr. Stark’s office.  A sworn statement that is the only significant evidence that the Chairman in fact made the request described above.  Polygraph, anyone?

On March 8, 2016, after learning that the website lacked a number of security features, and out of concern for vulnerability, I advised the Party staff to turn off the servers and email, but to restore the email as soon as possible using an outside server. The email was restored the next morning.

He advised them to “turn off server and email”.  Okay, we can understand why shutting down web servers if there are security concerns, but why email (especially since we know who was running the email)?

He advised them to “restore the email as soon as possible using an outside server”.  Wait.  What?  As we have demonstrated here, on March 8, NCGOP email was already on an outside server.

The initial information provided to the staff was incomplete and the staff feared the worst. They were concerned that all the Party’s computer systems were under attack, including email systems, financial systems, databases, and credit card collection accounts. Because of this, it appeared that immediate and drastic action was necessary to protect confidential party, financial, and donor information.

Email systems?  You mean the ones that little company out in Mountain View, California called Google uses to provide email to NCGOP and hundreds of thousands if not millions of other organizations?  This just doesn’t add up.  Either someone is not telling the truth, or they don’t know enough about what they are doing to be responsible for such things.

I was finally able to meet with Chairman Harnett and his lawyer for a little over one hour on Friday, March 18, 2016. He was only willing to speak of these matters through counsel.

Seriously, Counselor?  Are you surprised that the Chairman declined to speak to opposition counsel without his own counsel present? Would you advise your client to speak to the opposing counsel without you present?  Or are you attempting to act as counsel for both sides in this dispute?

On March 20, 2016, the Central Committee voted to censure Chairman Harnett for these actions. See Attachment B. I abstained from the vote. The Central Committee censured the Chairman for a series of statements and acts that were inconsistent with the proper role of the Chairman according to the Plan of Organization, and the Chairman’s legal obligations. The majority of the Central Committee voted for censure, believing that the Chairman’s vitriolic, racially charged statements, false accusations, and improper conduct should not stand without clear rejection.

But the Central Committee went way beyond censure, into actions that they are not authorized to do by the Plan of Organization.  Let’s examine the word “censure”:

  1. express severe disapproval of (someone or something), typically in a formal statement.
    “a judge was censured in 1983 for a variety of types of injudicious conduct”
  1. the expression of formal disapproval.

    “angry delegates offered a resolution of censure against the offenders”

    Note that both as a verb and as a noun, we are speaking of an expression of disapproval.  There is nothing mentioned in the definition above about punishment or “severe emergency restrictions” on the person who is the object of censure.

There is a procedure for removing someone from office.  The Central Committee knew they could not explicitly remove the Chairman from office, so they did the next best thing – which in our opinion is the same thing – they implicitly removed him by placing restrictions on him that made it impossible for him to do his job.

We have reviewed the NCGOP Plan of Organization, and find nothing there authorizing the Central Committee to go so far beyond censure as they have done. There is no authorization to so hamstring the Chairman.

Nevertheless, despite the fact that I had not revealed Dr. Robol’s identity, Chairman Harnett has now put forward various versions of their conversation. Notably, in a recent statement, Chairman Harnett has used the word “entrapment” to refer to his conversations with Dr. Robol.

As a legal defense, entrapment m that a defendant was enticed or led by government agents to commit a crime he would not have otherwise perpetrated. The entrapment defense concedes that a crime has been committed, but argues that the defendant was not the ultimate cause
of it, but was led into the situation by government actors. Thus, the defendant participated in a crime he would not have otherwise been party to. For Chairman Harnett to use the word “entrapment,” he has conceded that the conversation between him and Dr. Robol occurred essentially as described in Dr. Robol’s statement.

It appears here that Mr. Stark is claiming that the since the Chairman (who by the way is not an attorney) used the word “entrapment” in conversation, his use of the word should be interpreted as if he had used entrapment as a defense in a court of law.  Certainly we aren’t the only ones who find this ludicrous.

It was entirely Chairman Harnett’s own initiative to ask Dr. Robol to hack the Party website and set up a competing website to divert funds away from the Party. Further, it was entirely Chairman Harnett’s own initiative to place a follow up phone call to Dr. Robol.

Dr. Robol contacted other members of the Party because he was made extremely uncomfortable by the Chairman’s request. He was aware that if he did nothing, others might be contacted who did not share his scruples.

Again, we have this allegation for which the only evidence is the word of Dr. Kenneth Robol.  Sworn statement or not, that is all there is.

And doesn’t Dr. Robol have close family ties to folks who strongly oppose the Chairman?  But that couldn’t possibly be relevant.

The Central Committee has been dedicated to working with the
Chairman to ensure the success of the North Carolina Republican Party moving forward.

Ummm…. Yeah….   Right.

I have written this letter to set the record straight, but also to urge everyone involved to adhere to the organizational rules of the North Carolina Plan of Organization. Being an effective member of an organization requires working within the rules and structure of that organization.

Please share this message with the Central Committee.

As I write this, it appears that a new attempt is underway by Chairman Harnett to circumvent the Plan of Organization. Disregarding the Plan of Organization’s notice requirements, he has purported to schedule a meeting of the Executive Committee in conflict with numerous District Conventions. This behavior needs to stop.

From what we have heard, the meeting notice requirements were met.  In addition, there is plenty of evidence that some of the Chairman’s detractors were planning a meeting on the same date – for the very reason that scheduling conflicts would keep attendance low.

You can download a copy of the Mr. Stark’s letter here.

The Daily Haymaker also has excellent commentary on Mr. Stark’s letter here.

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