Republican National Committee Chair Ronna Romney McDaniel paid her top rival in the race nearly $900,000 over the last two years, according to financial data published by OpenSecrets.org.
The RNC under McDaniel paid Dhillon Law Group, the Virginia-based law firm run by Harmeet Dhillon, who is running against McDaniel for the chair’s job, $892,550 in legal fees between March 2021 and Aug. 2022, per financial disclosures that OpenSecrets obtained.
Dhillon, an RNC Committeewoman from California, announced that she would run against McDaniel for her job earlier this month.
Each expenditure was described as being for “Legal and Compliance Services,” which likely refers to legal fees for lawsuits.
Dhillon Law has represented the RNC in several lawsuits on behalf of the committee, most notably in RNC v. Google, a federal lawsuit in the Eastern District of California that accuses the company of sending RNC mass-marketing emails to spam folders on users’ Gmail accounts, preventing Republicans from reaching voters and donors, per the firm’s website.
Dhillon’s campaign for Chair has been focused on alleged failures under McDaniel’s leadership of the party, though she has rarely mentioned her by name. Dhillon’s platform includes promises to shore up the RNC’s in-house legal team, to fight lawsuits against Democrats and state officials, as well as replacing most of the party staff and retained consultants with teams outside of Washington, D.C.
“Republicans are tired of losing and I think that we really need to radically reshape our leadership in order to win,” said Dhillon in her candidacy announcement on Fox News’ Tucker Carlson Tonight, on Dec. 7. She added that “The party has become a populist party. The base of the party demands populist messages that speak to them and not Chamber of Commerce messages, not neocon messages, not warmonger messages.”
Dhillon’s firm receiving payments from the RNC has prompted criticism from other candidates in the chair’s race.
“She is protecting the cash. If she becomes chair, she could still ship cash to the law firm and use the perch to increase the profile and drive even more cash to the firm,” said Mike McKenna, a former Trump White House staffer, who recently announced his candidacy for Chair in a Washington Times op-ed.
The payments to Dhillon’s firm from the RNC under McDaniel are not the only direct links to her. In November, McDaniel established a committee of experts to review the party’s failures to make outreach to Asian, Black, Latino and suburban women voters, of which Dhillon was the co-chair.
Dhillon’s bid has, so far, received tepid support from the RNC’s 168 committee members, who elect the chair. Several committee members representing Virginia and Vermont have pledged to support her on Twitter.
However, McDaniel has already received public pledges of support from 107 committee members, well over the 85 she needs to be re-elected to a fourth two-year term as Chair, including from influential committee member David Bossie.
Apart from McDaniel, Dhillon, and McKenna, MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell.