I’ve received and reviewed documentation related to “disloyalty” charges brought against two of Wake GOP party members/officials. The charges brought against Lana and Dennis (who have asked to be identified by only their first names) were resolved at an executive committee meeting last week. The charges were brought in relation to independent school board candidate Katie Long in the 2022 Wake County Board of Education District 7 election. The Wake GOP leadership sought to remove both Lana and Dennis from the party for five years.
Lana was cleared of the charges after the Wake GOP took a vote of the Executive Committee and failed to get the 2/3 necessary to “convict.” Dennis, on the other hand, had reached out to the Wake GOP to negotiate an agreement.
The Wake County Board of Election races are non-partisan. Although Katie Long had been invited to and participated in previous Wake GOP events, the party ended up endorsing Jacob Arthur for the District 7 race for the 2022 election. In the final tally, the Democratic Party endorsed candidate Chris Heagarty won more votes than both Long and Arthur combined.
Both Lana and Dennis appeared in photos which Long posted on September 8th, 2022 from a campaign event. This photo is apparently the only evidence the Wake GOP presented against Lana. Even though Lana was not identified by name or party position in any of the posts, in the eyes of party leadership this was enough to merit her a five year ban. Lana told me that she attended as founder of Open-Nc.us and the “Free the Smiles” campaign.
At the time, Dennis was a region chair, and Lana was both region secretary and a precinct chair.
Dennis was accused of taking a more active role in promoting Long’s campaign; including attending multiple events, donating $67.71, wearing a campaign t-shirt, and accepting $250 to build the campaign a website.
Instead lieu of defending himself at a hearing of the Wake GOP Executive Committee, Dennis negotiated a settlement with the party. In the “Consent Agreement,” Dennis apologized for supporting a candidate other than the Republican endorsed candidate, resigned from all Wake GOP offices, and agreed to not seek any party office before November 8th, 2023. This is a significant reduction from the 5 year ban which the party was seeking.
Dennis wanted to make it clear why he chose this course of action:
The reason I offered the party the opportunity to negotiate and come up with a mutual settlement agreement was to demonstrate that this action wasn’t about disloyalty at all. This was a brazen ploy to keep me from seeking party leadership position in this cycle.
I wanted to send a message to other volunteers to stand up for themselves.
In Lana’s defense, she presented evidence of her extensive volunteer work for Republican endorsed candidates in the 2022 elections. Lana counted her volunteer hours for the midterm election at 257, including door knocking, events, early voting, and election day work for Republican candidates.
Lana also pointed to the Republican State Party Platform, in particular the section on “Individual Liberty.” Included in the platform are statements supporting liberty and impartiality, and opposing social media censorship. Lana argued that a charge based on a single “out of context” photo was violating the spirit of the party platform.
Although a majority of the members of the Wake GOP Executive Committee present did vote in favor of the charges against Lana, they failed to meet the 2/3 supermajority required. There is dispute over whether Lana was properly automatically resigned from her precinct chair position when the charges were brought, but she has informed me that she will be seeking reelection to the post regardless.
Donna Williams, the current chair of the Wake GOP has announced that she will not be seeking reelection to the post. Dennis will not be eligible to seek the position in this cycle.
Editor’s note: I’ve known Lana since we stood together in 2020 protesting Gov. Cooper and his executive orders. The Wake GOP did not respond to a request for comment.
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