Skip to content
Mississippi RNC Committeeman Seeks...

Mississippi RNC Committeeman Seeks Neutrality in the Primary, Shielding Party from Paying Candidate’s Legal Bills

By: Frank Corder - February 26, 2024

FILE - The Republican National Committee logo is shown on the stage as crew members work at the North Charleston Coliseum, Jan. 13, 2016, in North Charleston, S.C. (AP Photo/Rainier Ehrhardt, File)

  • Henry Barbour, who has been one of the Magnolia State’s Republican National Committee members since 2005, says he thinks the Trump campaign is jumping the gun before voters have declared the primary over.

Mississippi Republican National Committeeman Henry Barbour has introduced two resolutions aimed at ensuring the RNC’s neutrality in the presidential primaries while also preventing the party from covering any candidate’s legal fees. The move comes as RNC members are planning for their spring meeting in Houston, Texas next week.

The first resolution offered by Barbour states that, “The Republican National Committee and its leadership will stay neutral throughout the Presidential primary and not take on additional staff from any of the active Presidential campaigns until a nominee is clearly determined by reaching 1,215 delegates.”

Former President Donald Trump, the party’s frontrunner to win the nomination for a third time, has strongly urged RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel to step down after supporting her for the position seven years ago. McDaniel is reportedly planning to resign at the Houston RNC meeting.

Among the shake ups at the RNC Trump would like to make include placing North Carolina GOP Chair Michael Whatley as the next RNC Chairman and his daughter-in-law, Lara, as co-chair.

GOP presidential candidate Nikki Haley, the only remaining contender against Trump in the primary race, has voiced opposition to the RNC adding Trump-backed staffers and leaders while the two campaigns were still vying for delegates.

Barbour, who has been one of the Mississippi’s RNC members since 2005, told Magnolia Tribune on Monday that he thinks former President Trump is jumping the gun before the primary is over.

Henry Barbour

“We’ve only had votes in four states. [Trump’s] done well in all of them, but we’re still in a primary. The RNC by rule has to be neutral in a primary, so they’ve just jumped the gun by about three weeks,” Barbour said. “Once that get 1,215 delegates secured, they wouldn’t have any argument from me, but we need to abide by the rules. I think that’s important, and it’s not fair to change the rules in the middle of the game.”

Barbour said it should not be the RNC or any campaign “declaring when the primary is over.” He said that should be left up to the voters.

The Trump campaign has criticized the resolutions.

“The primary is over, and it is the RNC’s sole responsibility to defeat Joe Biden and win back the White House,” said Trump advisor Chris LaCivita. “Efforts to delay that assist Joe Biden in the destruction of our nation. Republicans cannot stand on the sidelines and allow this to happen.”

Barbour’s second resolution outlines that, “The Republican National Committee will not pay the legal bills of any of our candidates for any federal or state office, but will focus our spending on efforts directly related to the 2024 election cycle.”

Trump remains mired in ongoing legal troubles in New York, Georgia, Florida and Washington D.C. related to his business practices and the handling of classified documents as well as allegations of election interference and his role in the January 6, 2021, riot at the U.S. Capitol.

According to a recent FoxNews report, current President Joe Biden (D) raised more than $42 million last month and has $130 million in cash-on-hand across all of its joint-fundraising committees. Biden’s campaign said their fundraising is “the highest total amassed by any Democratic candidate in history” at this point in the election cycle.

While Trump’s campaign has not released their February numbers, at the end of January they reported $30 million cash-on-hand. FoxNews reported that last year, Trump’s campaign “shelled out $50 million to cover the cost of those legal bills, contributing to Biden’s financial upper-hand.”

Outgoing RNC Chairwoman McDaniel has said that the RNC ceased paying Trump’s legal bills for the New York cases in November 2022, after he declared his candidacy for the 2024 presidential election.

Barbour, who has never shied away from fighting for the party’s principles when he believes in an issue, concedes that both resolutions are not likely to receive favorable votes given the strong Trump contingent among the RNC members. Two RNC members from ten states would need to sign on as cosponsors. Barbour says he currently has six and is working to get others.

While the resolution on remaining neutral may be at odds with the Trump campaign and thus be viewed unfavorably by RNC members, the resolution on the party paying a candidate’s legal bills could move forward as even those in Trump’s circle have expressed such reservations.

“There’s a possibility that [Trump’s team] might support that resolution,” Barbour said.

About the Author(s)
author profile image

Frank Corder

Frank Corder is a native of Pascagoula. For nearly two decades, he has reported and offered analysis on government, public policy, business and matters of faith. Frank’s interviews, articles, and columns have been shared throughout Mississippi as well as in national publications. He is a frequent guest on radio and television, providing insight and commentary on the inner workings of the Magnolia State. Frank has served his community in both elected and appointed public office, hosted his own local radio and television programs, and managed private businesses all while being an engaged husband and father. Email Frank: