Background: Throughout early 2016, members of the NCGOP received disturbing reports from party officials about Republican Party Chairman Hasan Harnett. Some of the allegations were that he had hacked into the party’s financial accounts and web site, which could have been criminal acts. These reports were accompanied by messages from the Chairman, himself, who complained about being locked out of the NCGOP headquarters and his email account- which would prevent him from doing his job. Eventually, the Central Committee of the NCGOP met and voted to petition the party’s Executive Committee to convene a trial of Mr. Harnett, at which time they would take a vote to dismiss him as Chairman. A generalized list of allegations was provided to the Executive Committee. The trial was convened on April 30, 2016, a date Mr. Harnett was scheduled to be out of the country on business travel. He was tried in absentia.
The Allegation: Jim Womack was alleged to be a vigorous supporter of Mr. Harnett and that he acted as Chairman Harnett’s advocate in the April 30, 2016 trial. Womack is alleged to have defended Harnett’s actions as Chairman, seeking to prevent his dismissal. It is alleged more than 2/3 of the Executive Committee voted to discharge Mr. Harnett from his duties as Chairman.
The Truth: Indeed, Jim Womack supported Chairman Hasan Harnett because he was the duly elected leader of the NCGOP, elected by acclamation during the NCGOP convention in 2015. Throughout March and April 2016, Womack queried central committee members about their claims of Harnett’s malfeasance. Womack was provided nothing of substance that would rise to the level of disloyalty or gross inefficiency.
When Womack discovered Harnett was not going to be offered legal assistance and that he was to be tried in absentia, Womack offered to step in as an advocate to afford Mr. Harnett due process as typically assured in our legal system (and by Roberts Rules of Order).
Womack discovered the Central Committee had violated our state Plan of Organization in convening the trial and he challenged the legitimacy of the trial on the grounds that Roberts Rules were being circumvented in denying Harnett the ability to be present and to speak on his own behalf.
During the trial, the presiding officer liberally allowed hearsay information from the prosecution; but Womack was frequently interrupted and scolded during his defense of Harnett for being argumentative. He was not allowed to fully present Harnett’s case. Robert’s Rules were waived in the trial to disallow matters of extenuation and mitigation that would have helped Mr. Harnett’s case.
Mr. Harnett was not given a fair trial and he was denied due process. In the end, fewer than 200 members present in the room voted to oust the Chairman, not nearly the majority of the Executive Committee that is required by our state Plan of Organization for taking such action.
Conclusion: Jim Womack’s defense of Chairman Hasan Harnett was a noble attempt to protect the will of the voters from the 2015 NCGOP convention and to ensure due process for our elected leader. Womack mounted the best defense that was possible, under the circumstances, and stood to gain nothing from defending the Chairman.
Learn more about Jim Womack here.