A former senior party official with deep knowledge of Inside-The-Beltway politics in Raleigh who spoke to National File on background out of fear of retribution by party apparatchiks raised several serious red flags about Whatley’s appointment as RNC General Counsel. The chief concern among them was whether an attorney with zero legal experience can go head to head with the likes of the DNC’s best like Mark Elias when it comes to ensuring fair elections.
Though Whatley and the RNC claim that he is an “accomplished lawyer,” he had no law license from January 27th, 2017, until May 23rd, 2023, when he was re-instated to the North Carolina Bar, months after he was hired as the RNC’s General Counsel. According to the results of a search, Whatley has NEVER been registered with the Bar in Washington, D.C., where the RNC is headquartered.
“The RNC General Counsel should be the very best litigator and election law expert in the country,” the former senior party official told National File.
“The team they supervise should be, as well. Of all the conservative attorneys in America, was Michael Whatley the best choice for the RNC General Counsel? The DNC legal team is laughing all the way to the ballot harvesting box. Michael Whatley claims in the press release to be an ‘accomplished lawyer’. The question is how can an attorney who never practiced law and had an inactive license until late May 2023 be accomplished? Was he practicing law without an active law license? How do you lead the RNC in-house law firm of 8 plus attorneys if you have never argued a case? Did Ronna know when she appointed him that he had never actually practiced law? Doesn’t the RNC need someone the caliber of Ken Cuccinelli if we plan to actually out-litigate the Democrats and protect the integrity of elections?”
The February 2023 hiring of Whatley as General Counsel came after he failed to be elected RNC co-Chair, finishing in a distant last place. This was after he’d spent years flooding North Carolina with RNC money and RNC-approved candidates, having served as the Chairman of the North Carolina GOP since 2019, an office he’s currently in a battle to hold on to.
Whatley staunchly supported the re-election of RNC Chair Ronna Romney, and Romney has pumped millions of dollars into the NC GOP under Whatley’s watch, even outspending North Carolinians themselves.
In addition to concerns surrounding his legal aptitude and the legality of hiring a non-lawyer as RNC General Counsel, grassroots North Carolinians say that Whatley has proven he can’t serve two masters and that his loyalty to Ronna Romney and the establishment-run RNC outweighs his loyalty to the people of North Carolina.
“Michael Whatley is not even a practicing attorney, so he has no business as RNC General Counsel, but even worse is the clear conflict of interest his job poses, since he clearly will be making decisions on behalf of Ronna Romney and the corporations who buy favor in DC, rather than making decisions based on what’s best for Republican voters in North Carolina,” Margaret Ackiss, Ph.D. and former NC District 11 Secretary told National File.
“Michael Whatley has never practiced law. Ever. And yet, he’s the general counsel for the RNC. That tells me they don’t want a lawyer, they want a political lackey,” Ackiss added.
North Carolina conservatives say that Whatley can not be trusted to deliver any meaningful results for the Tar Heel State, only for the RNC and its establishment agenda. He’s facing a grassroots challenge for his chairmanship this year from John Kane, whose campaign is picking up major steam as Whatley’s establishment ties and shady legal work with the RNC come to the surface.
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