- Associated Press - Sunday, May 1, 2016

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) - The Latest on North Carolina Republican Party activists meeting Saturday to consider a petition to remove the state party’s chairman (all times local):

7:05 p.m.

Former U.S. Rep. Robin Hayes is back as chairman of the North Carolina Republican Party after GOP activists removed Hasan Harnett from the post for misconduct.

A majority of voting members of the party’s Executive Committee present Saturday in Raleigh elected Hayes over two other candidates to serve out Harnett’s term through the middle of next year.

Hayes served as chairman from mid-2011 to mid-2013, a period of great success for the party as it expanded its advantages in the legislature and Pat McCrory became the first GOP governor in 20 years. Hayes served in Congress for 10 years through 2008 and previously in the legislature. He was also the party’s 1996 nominee for governor.



Hayes told Republicans it broke his heart for the party to be in the situation it was in with Harnett but vowed to work to make the GOP successful in the November elections.

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5:20 p.m.

The North Carolina Republican Party has removed its first black chairman from office after its activists agreed that he violated party rules based on allegations he exceeded his authority and tried to sink the website for the party’s upcoming state convention.

Enough members of the party’s Executive Committee meeting privately Saturday voted to fire Hasan Harnett so that it exceeded the required two-thirds threshold. The vote to remove was confirmed by Executive Director Dallas Woodhouse. Committee members are now considering his replacement.

The party’s smaller board of directors censured Harnett in March, limiting his powers and denying access to party email.

Harnett was absent from Saturday’s meeting - out of the country on business - but he had defenders making his case. Harnett has blamed the GOP establishment for seeking to remove him. State convention participants elected him last June.

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5:05 p.m.

North Carolina Republican activists have found their chairman violated state party rules. Now, they must decide whether that warrants removing him from the job he was elected to less than a year ago.

Roughly 70 percent of voting members of the state GOP’s Executive Committee meeting Saturday agreed that Hasan Harnett committed a violation and at least one act of “gross inefficiency.” The percentage came from the GOP’s executive director. They are holding another vote to decide whether he should be removed. Two-thirds of voting members must agree to that for his firing to occur.

The committee - comprised of hundreds of members - met for several hours behind closed doors in a trial-like meeting to consider allegations against Harnett. A petition accused him of overstepping his authority and trying to thwart the will of the party’s central committee.

If Harnett is removed, the committee could name a successor.

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11:35 a.m.

The meeting of North Carolina Republican activists considering whether their state party chairman should be fired is under way in Raleigh.

About 300 voting members of the state GOP executive committee gathered Saturday behind closed doors to hear evidence about Hasan Harnett and rebuttal from his allies. The party’s smaller board of directors censured Harnett in March, accusing him of creating bad relationships with state party leaders and bypassing the board to try to lower state convention participation fees. The board also alleges he tried to get a computer professional to crash the convention website to meet his goal.

Harnett says he’s being railroaded by Republicans in the party establishment and has tried to reconcile with other party leaders. He was elected the first black chairman of the state party last June with support from tea party activists.

Two-thirds of the voting members would have to agree to remove Harnett.

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4 a.m.

Hundreds of North Carolina Republican activists are meeting to decide whether to remove the state GOP chairman for alleged wrongdoing.

The 550-member Republican Party’s Executive Committee scheduled a Saturday meeting in Raleigh to vote on the future of Hasan Harnett, who won the job last June. The party’s board of directors censured Harnett last month, finding that he overstepped his authority. Party leaders also accused Harnett of trying to interfere with the party’s computer system.

Harnett is the state’s first black Republican chairman, elected with the help of tea party activists. Harnett has said he’s the target of a witch hunt by the party’s establishment wing.

A close ally says Harnett will be out of the country Saturday on a previously planned business trip.

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