Tensions rise during GOP leadership meeting over dues

Tensions boiled over on Tuesday between the leader of the GOP campaign committee and several House Republican leaders over the issue of dues, multiple sources confirmed to The Hill.

The meeting, held at the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) headquarters, grew heated while the organization's chairman, Rep. Tom EmmerThomas (Tom) Earl EmmerThe House Republicans and Democrats not seeking reelection in 2020 Cook Political Report moves TX-23 from Toss Up to Lean Democratic after Hurd retirement Will Hurd, only black Republican in House, retiring MORE (R-Minn.), addressed whether members were carrying their weight in terms of contributing to the House GOP's campaign arm. 

According to sources, Emmer specifically took issue with three members of GOP leadership, all of whom are reportedly mulling Senate bids: House Republican Conference Chairwoman Liz CheneyElizabeth (Liz) Lynn CheneyDick Cheney to attend fundraiser supporting Trump reelection: report Steve King says 'left-wing media' and GOP leadership owe him apology after rape, incest comments GOP memo deflects some gun questions to 'violence from the left' MORE (R-Wyo.), House Republican Conference Vice Chairman Mark WalkerBradley (Mark) Mark WalkerOn The Money: House passes sweeping budget, debt limit deal | Dem court filing defends powers to get Trump's NY tax returns | Debt collectors to pay M to settle consumer bureau charges House passes sweeping budget, debt limit deal Romney to vote against budget deal: Agreement 'perpetuates fiscal recklessness' MORE (R-N.C.) and Republican Policy Committee Chairman Gary PalmerGary James PalmerHouse passes sweeping budget, debt limit deal Palmer's Paris agreement bashing lacks policy basis Tensions rise during GOP leadership meeting over dues MORE (R-Ala.).

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During the meeting, tensions arose between Emmer and Walker over the NRCC opting not to provide funding for Walker’s legal expenses after he voiced interest in launching a primary challenge against Sen. Thom TillisThomas (Thom) Roland TillisThe United States broken patent system is getting worse Gun reform groups to pressure GOP senators with rallies in all 50 states To cash in on innovation, remove market barriers for advanced energy technologies MORE (R-N.C.) during the next election cycle, according to two sources.

The legal fees pertain to an indictment that mentions the North Carolina Republican. Though unnamed in the filing, Walker was identified by Politico, using Federal Election Commission records, as "Public Official A" in a case concerning the state GOP chairman's indictment on bribery charges in April. Walker has been adamant that there was no wrongdoing on his part and that he is not a target in the investigation. The Club for Growth, a conservative political action group that has courted Walker to run against Tillis, has repeatedly come out in his defense.

"He is not and never has been a target of the investigation, nor has he been alleged of any wrongdoing. The mention in the indictment was remarkably unusual and clearly politically motivated — sign off by DOJ officials with direct ties to Sen. Tillis and officials who Walker had skewered in Oversight Committee hearings," a source familiar with the matter told The Hill on Tuesday.

One source with knowledge of Tuesday's conversation told The Hill that Walker "proactively said he was not going to pay his dues because the NRCC reneged on a deal to cover $50,000 in legal bills after he made it known that he was considering a primary against a sitting Republican senator."

“He felt the NRCC didn't do what they said they were going to do," a source in the room told The Hill.

Another person with knowledge of the discussion said Emmer's “kind of anger” was directed more “toward two members who haven't paid up, which are Liz Cheney and Gary Palmer,” adding some lawmakers have voiced concerns their potential bids for the upper chamber could be interfering with their dedication to the NRCC.

"There were other members of leadership [other than Walker] that were challenged about their commitments to NRCC and pushed back pretty aggressively," one source in the meeting told The Hill.

Under House rules, Republican leaders have to step down from their leadership positions once they officially announce they are running for higher office. Palmer previously met with Club for Growth to discuss a potential run against Sen. Doug Jones (D-Ala.), sources confirmed to The Hill, and speculation remains around Capitol Hill over whether Cheney will seek Sen. Mike EnziMichael (Mike) Bradley EnziThe 23 Republicans who opposed Trump-backed budget deal On The Money: Fed poised to give Trump boost with rate cut | Parties unable to reach deal in Trump tax return lawsuit | New York opens investigation into Capital One data breach Outgoing Senate Budget chair unveils plans to replace Budget Committee MORE’s (R-Wyo.) seat in the wake of his retirement announcement earlier this year.

“If she's eyeing a Senate run, she would have to step down from her leadership spot and would no longer be paying any dues. So I'm not sure it's smart for her to take a bath up front for something that she may not fulfill out,” one senior GOP aide familiar with the talks said.

“So I get the frustration on the NRCC’s part there. The heated moment was between Cheney and Emmer kind of going back and forth to each other and overall, it was about dues — I think it's clear Emmer is feeling some sort of pressure on that front.”

After Emmer questioned Cheney’s dedication to the NRCC, the Wyoming Republican shot back, saying that she’s heard from members that they’re concerned he may be inflating his fundraising numbers, and that she’s heard from members that have raised questions about the NRCC’s strategy.

"They had a little scuffle, the point of discussion that they had that Liz raised with Emmer is that there is some concern from members that Emmer is double counting what he is bringing in to the NRCC, so members are concerned about that and members are concerned that the NRCC, in general, doesn't have a plan moving forward,” a source familiar with the discussion said.

Another senior Republican said the squabbling over dues and fundraising could be premature.

“The way it works is leadership has assessments they make for the cycle. So Kevin’s is the highest, then Steve, etc. So there’s no deadline other than the cycle,” the Republican said, referring to House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin Owen McCarthyI'm not a Nazi, I'm just a dude: What it's like to be the other Steve King Trump finds consistent foil in 'Squad' Tlaib says she won't visit Israel after being treated like 'a criminal' MORE (R-Calif.) and Minority Whip Steve ScaliseStephen (Steve) Joseph ScaliseManchin: Trump has 'golden opportunity' on gun reforms Sunday shows - Trump's Epstein conspiracy theory retweet grabs spotlight Sanders: Trump doesn't 'want to see somebody get shot' but 'creates the climate for it' MORE (R-La.).

“So there’s no rule that Liz has to transfer X amount now. Maybe percentage-wise she isn’t exactly equal to what percentage we are through the cycle but so long as she gets it done over the course of the next year and a half, that’s fine. … I mean we do have serious money issues but it’s not really Liz’s fault.”

While Monday's meeting had contentious moments, Emmer lauded Cheney's work to win back the majority.

“Chairwoman Cheney is a generous supporter of the NRCC in addition to being a valued member of our House Republican Conference. Her political counsel, along with the legislative agenda she is helping to craft, will be vital to our collective efforts to reclaim the majority in 2020," he said in a statement.

Palmer’s office did not immediately respond to The Hill’s request for comment. The NRCC declined to comment.