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Battle Between GOP Establishment and “Drain the Swamp” Republicans on Display at RNC Winter Meeting

On January 6, as the United States Senate meets to potentially certify the Electoral College vote for Joe Biden, members of the Republican National Committee will gather on Amelia Island, Florida, for their Winter Meeting and to hold elections. While many believe that the Republican National Committee of 2021 is full of Donald Trump loyalists, nothing could be further from the truth – especially coming off the Georgia Senate runoff election and after Lin Wood and Sidney Powell have sounded like lunatics to the vast majority of the country for the past six weeks or so.

When Donald Trump ran in 2016 a major theme was his desire to “drain the swamp” of the career lobbyists, special interests, bureaucrats, regulators, and more whose loyalty was to their own paycheck instead of to the American people – on both sides of the aisle. Many people become involved in politics or government for all the right reasons, but once they start earning money in politics or government they naturally have dueling interests. For example, if someone becomes an activist for immigration reform and it turns out that they’re an exceptionally persuasive speaker and they end up being paid handsomely to travel the country and fire up the masses (who then donate time and money to the cause), that person has an interest in keeping the status quo. If the problem is actually solved, then they’re out of a job.

On the Republican side of the aisle, we see this play out as continual loser theater. In California, we have numerous “Republican” PACs and consultants who have the right connections and, cycle after cycle, rake in the Benjamins from the legislative caucuses to … lose. Over and over. (Don’t believe me? One group, allegedly modeled after the NRCC’s Young Guns program, lost 13 seats in seven years while paying out over $2.3 million in salaries to “consultants.”)

In Washington, there’s a little bit more of a focus on electoral wins. The consultants and politicians in the literal swamp have to show a few wins to keep going, and while they talk about “principles” and “values” ad nauseam, they rarely show any desire or ability to fight for them. Poster children include Rick Wilson, George Conway, and the staff of The Bulwark.

The more dangerous members of this Squad are those in positions of power at the RNC. The RNC’s 168 members (three from each state/territory) control the national party apparatus, and its officers wield even more power. There are still a number of OG Never Trump members of the RNC, including current treasurer and longtime lobbyist Ron Kaufman of Massachusetts (whose firm has worked for Bernie Sanders). Kaufman is running for re-election this year against an early Trump supporter, KC Crosbie, national committeewoman from Kentucky who is endorsed by Rand Paul.

This contest between Kaufman and Crosbie highlights the battle lines between the two factions. The Never Trump/Kaufman wing believes that 2020 was a repudiation of Trump-style conservatism, that the past four years were an anomaly where the crazy people briefly took over the party, and that it’s now time for the reasonable professionals to retake the controls. Crosbie’s supporters believe (rightfully, in my opinion), that the Kaufman wing had led the GOP to permanent minority status in Washington. Crosbie supporters were dismayed at the lack of backbone and initiative the GOP showed during the last two years of the Obama presidency, when they controlled the House and the Senate.

Massachusetts GOP Chair Jim Lyons, who describes himself as “having stood squarely behind President Donald Trump throughout his presidency,” sent an email to fellow RNC members urging them to vote for Crosbie for RNC treasurer, saying:

I write to you today to endorse the candidacy of KC Crosbie as our next Republican National Treasurer.

KC Crosbie represents the kind of deep rooted conservatism that has inspired our party from Ronald Reagan to Donald Trump. KC is the new face that our party needs if we are going to take on the Biden administration without compromise. It is imperative at this crossroads that we set an example for Republicans around the country by supporting the conservative values and personal integrity, which KC offers.

We need a Treasurer who will be a strong coast-to-coast conservative. KC Crosbie will be just that – a principled conservative whether in her home state Kentucky, in Washington D.C., or in our 50 states across this great land.

Lyons, in case you didn’t make the connection, is the GOP state chair in Kaufman’s home state. Lyons recently won re-election as Mass GOP chair, and guess who led the opposition? That’s right, Kaufman. In the same endorsement email, Lyons described Kaufman’s efforts against him:

Unfortunately, I regret that I also must let you know that leading the opposition to my reelection as Chairman was incumbent RNC Treasurer Ron Kaufman.

Kaufman sent out a letter to the 80 members of the Massachusetts State Committee nastily attacking me and my reelection. He concluded by charging: “Jim Lyons’ leadership is not bringing the party together. Rather, it is tearing it apart.”

It is all too clear what Kaufman is alleging. As a certified Massachusetts RINO, Kaufman is saying that those of us who stand with the conservative ideals enunciated by Ronald Reagan and strengthened by Donald Trump are “tearing the Republican Party apart.”

I think you will agree with me that there is no place in the RNC Treasurer’s office for such RINO sentiments. We don’t need someone who claims to uphold conservative values at the national level, but then returns to his home state and attacks me or other equally committed conservatives.

We Massachusetts conservatives have worked long and hard to have a seat at the Republican table. We’re not about to let Kaufman and his RINO cronies take it away from us now.

Our national party does not need Kaufman and his capricious conservatism-of-convenience.

A Monday article in American Greatness alleges that Kaufman was “behind the rejection of an anti-Black Lives Matter resolution during the national convention last summer” and that he offered one now-retired committeeman from Alaska a four-night stay at the Trump Hotel in exchange for that committeeman’s vote against the resolution. Another now-retired national committeeman, for the Republican Party of Arizona, Bruce Ash, spoke to the outlet about the incident.

Ash told American Greatness that Kaufman offered a proxy committeeman from Alaska a payoff to vote against the resolution, which stated in part that “Black Lives Matter” uses the unobjectionable phrase as “a title for a radical political group, rather than uplifting Black lives, [and] actively impedes racial equality, universal human dignity, and the foundational family structure while promoting Marxist/Communist tenants [sic] who have ulterior motives contrary to our Constitutional Republic.”

Ash said that after much wrangling on the wording of the resolution, the committee held a vote and it passed. Then the chair of the committee held a five minute recess and members left the room. When the meeting reconvened, Peter Goldberg, the committeeman from Alaska requested a reconsideration vote on the BLM resolution. During that second vote, Goldberg and another committee member voted against the resolution and it was defeated.

Ash said Goldberg later told him that Kaufman had offered him a free four-day stay at the Trump Hotel, which he was certain was part of a “contemptible” deal to quash the resolution.

According to a voicemail obtained by RedState, Goldberg disputes this, calling Ash’s recollection a “misconception.”

Bruce, this is Peter Goldberg. [States phone number.] We need to talk, period. I need to clear up some misconceptions that you may have walked away with from our last phone call, but it’s an important misconception that needs to be cleaned up. So please give me a call at your earliest convenience. Thank you.

However, RedState has been in contact with another “member of the 168” who confirmed that they were aware of the arrangement between Goldberg and Kaufman. That RNC member did not want their name used in this story.

Goldberg is also the former Chair of the Alaska Republican Party and sided with Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) in 2016 when Rubio demanded that the five delegates he won in Alaska during the presidential primary remain bound to him at the national convention despite Rubio’s decision to suspend his campaign.

There is no hard proof that Kaufman offered Goldberg a hotel stay in exchange for his vote against the BLM resolution or that Goldberg accepted such an offer. The saga of this re-election contest, though, illustrates the major divide that still exists within Republican party leadership and the potential lengths to which party power players will go to retain their power. Considering what America is up against, though – and that conservatives need to send a message to Republicans in Congress and in statehouses across the country that we expect them to fight with every fiber of their being – there is no use for the dinosaurs of the “kinder, gentler GOP” whom the progressives called baby killers, grandma murderers, racist, sexist, and homophobic anyway.

Winning means something. Trump might have lost in 2020, but if the Kaufman types had their way we would have had President Hillary Clinton in 2016 – and 2020. They don’t need to be anywhere near the leadership controls again.

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