Inside the Battle for Control of the Republican National Committee

“We are in the era of lawfare, and we keep on losing in the courts,” Kirk said on his program last week as he introduced Dhillon. “Maybe we should have a chairwoman of the R.N.C. that’s a lawyer that has a killer instinct.”

Dhillon has been paid handsomely for her legal work, several R.N.C. members have pointed out — she bills more than $1,000 an hour.

Her law firm earned over $1 million from the committee in 2021 and 2022 for “legal and compliance services,” according to Federal Election Commission records. In 2022 alone, the firm was also paid more than $445,000 for work on behalf of various entities linked to Trump. All told, since 2019, federal campaigns and committees have paid the Dhillon Law Group over $2.1 million.

This year, Dhillon worked for Kari Lake, the Republican nominee for governor in Arizona, though she is not listed on Lake’s suit against Maricopa County, the state’s largest. Dhillon’s law partner filed a lawsuit on behalf of Abraham Hamadeh, the Republican nominee for attorney general in Arizona, who is seeking to challenge the results of his still-uncalled race, which is heading to a recount with his Democratic opponent narrowly ahead.

In July, real estate records show, Dhillon bought a $3.5 million condominium with “elegant entertaining spaces” and “lovely water views” on a prestigious street in Russian Hill, a move within the same trendy neighborhood in San Francisco.

Dhillon was traveling and could not be reached for comment. But her allies counter that running for committee chair would work against her financial interests. Her support inside the committee is growing, they say; they estimate she has peeled off at least 18 former McDaniel allies so far, and has about 50 supporters overall. She already has enough backing to appear on the ballot in January.

In TV appearances and in calls to Republican donors, Dhillon has cited her First Amendment work with the Center for American Liberty, a conservative legal group she founded in 2018, and argued that the Republican Party needs to go on “offense” and do more to battle Democrats over election rules in advance, pointing to the success of Democratic lawyers like Marc Elias. And she has been critical of G.O.P.-linked corporate law firms like Jones Day, whose lawyers have given millions in personal donations to Democrats.

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