Joel Studebaker
Joel Studebaker from a video with Ken Beyers discussing the “closed caucus” scheme to strip republican voters of their right to select candidates in primary elections.

OTTAWA COUNTY – Text messages leaked exclusively to Bigger Truth between a delegate, who asked to remain anonymous for fear of reprisal, and Karamo insider and former deputy chief of staff, Joel Studebaker, reveal their plan to take over the March 2 caucus, rewrite the convention rules and permanently strip Republican voters of their right to vote in primaries to select their candidates – for every partisan race at the county level and above.

Bigger Truth previously reported on the Karamo team’s three-pronged plan for the state caucus on March 2. Their plan was clearly laid out in this screenshot from a video produced by Ken Beyers and promoted on all of the Karamo organization’s Telegram channels:

  1. “Decide the real Chairperson and Executive Committee members.” This makes clear their intent to reinstate Karamo as chair and change the makeup of the state committee. At the Jan. 13 meeting that was officially canceled by interim chair Malinda Pego after Karamo’s removal on Jan. 6, Karamo and her supporters at that unofficial meeting voted to remove Pego and 6 other state committee members who had opposed Karamo. Her supporters have acted in multiple counties and districts to forcibly remove other members on the grounds that they attended the meetings on Dec. 2 or Jan. 6 or for speaking publicly about Karamo’s failures as chair and advocating her removal. Based on these actions it is logical to assume that they likely intend to remove even more state committee members and replace them with Karamo devotees.
  2. “Pass a resolution to close public primary vote and open it to the delegates.” This refers to a scheme, also called “closed caucus,” whereby the state GOP bylaws are rewritten to allow only delegates to determine who will represent the Republican party on the general election ballot. Voters will then no longer be able to vote in primary elections.
  3. “Pass by-laws to close out the establishment control of the party.” The Karamo team has been very secretive about this. Bigger Truth reached out to Karamo insider and former chief of staff, Lori Skibo, by text message to inquire about these changes and she did not respond.

On Feb. 3, a delegate reached out to Bigger Truth with screenshots from a text message conversation that she had with Karamo insider and former deputy chief of staff, Joel Studebaker, about the closed caucus. This delegate told Bigger Truth she had already witnessed the pattern of intimidation and verbal abuse from the Karamo organization and asked to be kept anonymous.

These text messages reveal the organization’s intent to strip Republican voters of their right to vote to select their candidates.

At one point, the delegate asked Studebaker, “What about the silent majority? The Republicans who show up to vote at every primary and every election? What about their rights to vote? Wouldn’t they be disenfranchised?”

Studebaker responded, “Their job is to make sure they have good delegate representation.”

Studebaker made several misleading statements in his arguments, citing the founding fathers. In this message, Studebaker claims that “we are missing the most basic representative form of government, which is the delegates.” Most Republicans would likely argue that the voters are the most basic form of representative government.

Studebaker indicated that their scheme would apply to every level of government from townships on up, and hinted at some form of vetting process that the party elites would likely control:

Studebaker indicated that all 8000 delegates would be involved in the process, which would require a radically different structure than current bylaws describe:

He also indicated that the changes they are promoting have not yet been “locked in” but are close:

When asked for more detail on the “vetting” process that would be presumably used to instruct delegates how to vote, Studebaker said a “rigorous approach” would be needed:

Bigger Truth published the following video that included a screenshot from this text conversation the day after the conversation, on Feb. 4.

Within hours, Studebaker reached back out to the delegate, apparently angry that she had leaked the conversation:

I then told the delegate I would like to speak with him directly. She passed on that request and he refused, claiming he would have told me everything he had said to her, then left some parting words.

The accusation that those who oppose their scheme are a “corruption club” is interesting, especially when considering the implications of a closed caucus.

If they were to succeed, on the district level, the district chair and executives would have control over the convention and process by which candidates are selected for US House of Representatives. Those executives would then become “elites” with extraordinary influence and power over who the party selects to run for US Congress. The potential for corruption in this process would be extraordinary.

After this conversation, Studebaker’s assertion that the process was not “locked in” proved correct. On Feb. 6, I gave a lengthy seminar compiling most of my research at the Lapeer County Tea Party. In that talk, I gave the following example of the problems with the closed caucus on the township level:

“My mom lives in a small township of 1900 voters and 3 delegates. If their plan goes through, those 3 delegates would have complete power to determine who goes on the ballot for township supervisor, clerk, and trustees. The voters would lose all ability to hold their officials accountable.”

The following morning, the Karamo team broadcast across their Telegram channels that their closed caucus plan will only be for county level and above, and that there would be primaries for township offices.

On Feb. 8, Karamo issued a call for meeting of state committee members, which violates the bylaws as she is no longer the chair. The agenda is below, note #11:

The MIGOP bylaws do not provide for a constitution. Because this is an illegitimate meeting, they would not be able to make any changes to the bylaws, but it will be interesting to see what exactly they are proposing and whether it will supersede the bylaws.

Screenshots for the entire conversation with Studebaker are below:

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