RNC Challenger Attacking High-Dollar Consultants Despite Being One Herself

Harmeet Dhillon hopes to unseat RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel and is attacking the party’s consultants — despite raking in $1.3 million over the past four years.
Republican National Committee member Harmeet Dhillon takes her campaign to unseat RNC chair Ronna McDaniel to the Turning Point USA conference Tuesday.
Republican National Committee member Harmeet Dhillon takes her campaign to unseat RNC chair Ronna McDaniel to the Turning Point USA conference Tuesday.
S.V. Date/HuffPost

PHOENIX — Would-be Republican National Committee Chair Harmeet Dhillon on Tuesday continued her attacks on the party’s highly paid consultants — despite receiving $1.3 million in RNC payments to her law firm over the past four years.

“They’re so married to that sweet, sweet cash,” she said from the stage at the conservative youth group Turning Point USA’s “America Fest” conference. “They get paid whether they win or lose. Now, I run a small business. I’m a partner in a law firm that I founded. We don’t get paid whether we win or lose. They get paid whether they do a good job or not. Most of us don’t.”

“If our money isn’t going to candidates, it needs to go to the grassroots activists. That’s going to be my pledge as the chair of the party,” she added.

What Dhillon did not mention at the event, though, is that her firm has been paid $1,333,967 by the RNC ever since she appeared at former President Donald Trump’s “social media” summit at the White House in July 2019, according to a HuffPost analysis of Federal Election Commission filings.

Dhillon now also represents the coup-attempting former president personally and has received $360,575 from his various political committees. She had not received any money from either the RNC or Trump before her speech at the White House.

Dhillon did not respond to a HuffPost query about whether her own contracts with the RNC make payment contingent on success or if she gets paid regardless of the outcome.

Only six other law firms have received more from the RNC over the past four years, including such powerhouses as Jones Day and McGuireWoods. Dhillon Law Group, in contrast, advertises itself as a “boutique” firm and has a total of 21 lawyers.

In all, the RNC has spent $1.2 billion since Jan. 1, 2019. Of that, $50.8 million went to 169 law firms for legal work and $93.1 million went to 72 firms and individuals categorized as consultants.

Among that latter group, only 13 consulting firms received more than Dhillon Law Group over the last four years.

One ally of Dhillon, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that her work for the RNC, which includes defending some staff and members who received subpoenas in the Jan. 6 investigation, fully merits the money she has been paid.

“She’s the top conservative election lawyer in the country,” the ally said, adding that Dhillon has already promised not to accept any more legal work should she become chair. “She’s giving up a ton of money.”

Spokespeople for current RNC chair Ronna McDaniel, who is running for a fourth two-year term, did not respond to HuffPost queries.

One McDaniel ally, who also spoke only on condition of anonymity, said that Dhillon’s attacks on McDaniel, the party’s staff and consultants were off base.

“If Harmeet Dhillon spent less time on TV as a TV lawyer, she would know the RNC is already decentralized with 56 state parties in every state and territory,” the McDaniel ally said. “Not only was what she said a tremendous insult to the state parties and their local or county parties, but what she proposes would actually increase the RNC chairman’s power by making her accountable not to the state parties but the larger element outside the current RNC. This would make her a kind of supreme leader or Republican pope.”

But going on television and the internet has been the focus of Dhillon’s strategy to broaden the RNC race beyond the 168 members of the committee to the Republican activist base writ large.

She announced her candidacy on Fox News host Tucker Carlson’s program earlier this month. The next day, she went on Steve Bannon’s podcast. Monday night, she appeared on YouTube celebrity Tim Pool’s show — which he was producing from the TPUSA stage.

“Only a handful of the members of the Republican National Committee are active on social media,” she said in her remarks the following morning. “They couldn’t pick any of the influencers out if their lives depended on it. That’s a problem.”

TPUSA, which has seen its fundraising and influence spike since founder Charlie Kirk aligned himself with Trump in 2016, conducted a straw poll of its attendees over the past several days, and announced Tuesday that Dhillon had defeated McDaniel 58% to 2%, with pillow monger-turned-election conspiracy theorist Mike Lindell receiving 31% and 10% expressing no opinion.

Dhillon asked the audience of several thousand to contact the RNC members in their state on her behalf. “Ask for a poll of your state party leadership on who should be the next leader of the RNC,” she said.

Dhillon’s main message, which she repeated in Phoenix, was that she was “tired of losing” and that McDaniel and the RNC had achieved mainly losses over the past three elections.

“Our party was out-spent, out-messaged and out-worked,” she said. “The ‘red wave’ didn’t happen.”

Dhillon, like most Republicans, did not point out that the reason for these repeated losses is Trump. His unpopularity led to a Democratic takeover of the House in 2018. He then lost the White House in 2020 and then effectively sabotaged two Georgia Senate runoffs in January 2021 by telling voters there that the elections were rigged. That gave control of the Senate to Democrats, as well.

Trump’s insistence that GOP candidates spread his election lies or face his wrath heading into the 2022 midterms led to candidates who won their nominations but then foundered in the general election. Republicans lost five of seven tight Senate races with “Trump” candidates, severalgovernor’s races, and a number of House races, as well, including a heavily pro-Trump district in Washington state.

Trump also hoarded $85 million he raised from small-dollar donors for himself, even as GOP candidates were starved for cash against their Democratic opponents.

Trump, who continues to lie about the 2020 election, is under criminal investigation by the Department of Justice and state prosecutors in Georgia for his Jan. 6, 2021, coup attempt to remain in power and his various efforts leading up to that day. He is also under DOJ investigation for removing top-secret documents from the White House and keeping them at his Mar-a-Lago social club in Florida, even in defiance of a subpoena ordering that he turn them over.

Despite this, he is running for president again and retains the loyalty of a sizable segment of the Republican primary voting base.

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