Michigan GOP chair Kristina Karamo purges her detractors amid effort to oust her

Amid efforts within the Michigan Republican Party to oust Chair Kristina Karamo from her leadership role, Karamo removed a handful of detractors and completely dissolved a committee that mediates internal conflicts, according to multiple reports.

Karamo removed Andy Sebolt and Ian Shetron — who both support the effort to oust Karamo — from their positions on the state party’s policy committee, the Detroit News and Bridge Michigan reported. Karamo also axed the Michigan GOP’s conflict resolution committee, which is supposed to mediate internal disagreements.

“This is an attempt to punish her perceived enemies,” Shetron, who proposed an amendment to lower the threshold of votes needed to remove Karamo as party chair, told Bridge Michigan.

Members of the Michigan Republican Party have been organizing an effort to oust Karamo as chair over her inability to fundraise and a lack of transparency over the party’s finances.

Multiple members of the state party’s budget committee have resigned in recent months, claiming Karamo kept them in the dark about how much money the party actually had. One member even warned that Karamo’s lack of fundraising was putting the Michigan GOP “on the path to bankruptcy.”

While it’s unclear how much money the party currently has in its coffers, the Detroit News reported that the Michigan GOP had just $35,000 in the bank as of August. Karamo has also said that the party is $500,000 in debt, according to Bridge Michigan.

Despite the party’s financial woes, the state party took out a loan to cover a $110,000 speaker fee for actor Jim Caviezel to speak at an October fundraiser. Caviezel played Jesus in the 2004 film “The Passion of the Christ” and was also in “Sound of Freedom,” a Christian film that became a cult hit among QAnon conspiracy theorists because it’s about sex trafficking. Caviezel himself has trafficked in the QAnon conspiracy theory; its followers falsely believe that the world is controlled by a cabal of Satan-worshiping pedophiles and that former President Donald Trump was working to rid the United States government of that cabal.

Karamo, an election denier who falsely believes the 2020 election was stolen from Trump, was chosen to be chair of the Michigan Republican Party in February.

In 2022, she lost her bid for Michigan secretary of state to Democrat Jocelyn Benson by 14 points, a landslide in the otherwise purple state.

Karamo rose to prominence in Michigan Republican politics after she filed a failed lawsuit in the 2020 election that sought to throw out thousands of absentee ballots cast in the heavily Democratic city of Detroit. In June, Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Timothy Kenny sanctioned Karamo over the lawsuit, forcing her to pay $58,000 in fines for filing the suit Kenny described as being “rife with speculation, an absence of facts and a lack of understanding of Michigan election statutes and Detroit absentee ballot procedures.”

Aside from her election denialism, Karamo is also an “anti-vaxxer” who does not believe in vaccines. She also has said that premarital sex “violate[s] God’s creative design,” said abortion is akin to human sacrifice, and opposes teaching the theory of evolution in schools, Bridge Michigan’s Jonathan Oosting reported.