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Ronna McDaniel, chairwoman of the Republican National Committee
Ronna McDaniel, chairwoman of the Republican National Committee, at an election night party in Washington on Nov. 8, 2022.Tom Williams / CQ Roll Call via AP file

RNC official blasts McDaniel ally for 'religious bigotry' over challenger's Sikh faith

Challenger Harmeet Dhillon's religion has spurred whispers among Republicans who will elect the next RNC chair.


A Republican National Committee official formally accused an ally of RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel of engaging in “religious bigotry” by denigrating the Sikh faith of Harmeet Dhillon, who is challenging the chair in her re-election bid.

In a midnight email to voting members of the RNC, North Dakota Committeewoman Lori Hinz said that her Iowa colleague and fellow member of the RNC Faith Advisory Board, Tamara Scott, improperly raised questions about Dhillon’s faith during a private Dec. 28 phone call where the conversation veered into the discussion of the chair race. Hinz is backing Dhillon and Scott is supporting McDaniel.

“What should have been a pleasant conversation among colleagues discussing the merits of each candidate then took a very ugly turn when Tamara told me that she and others at the RNC were ‘worried the gains made by the Faith Advisory Board would be in jeopardy should Harmeet Dhillon win the RNC Chair race.’ Shocked, I asked Tamara why she would feel that way, to which she responded, ‘because of Harmeet’s Sikh beliefs — she is not a Christian,’” Hinz said in the email.

Hinz, who relayed the story initially to NBC News on background for a Jan. 11 story about Dhillon’s concerns that her faith was being weaponized against her, confirmed to NBC News that she sent the email.

In a statement to NBC News, Scott said she was "truly saddened" by the allegations. "It’s unfortunate and truly hurtful to hear that a fellow RNC member would misuse a private conversation and completely twist it against me for personal or political gain," Scott said. "As Chair of the RNC Faith Advisory Board, I am proud to have led the charge, alongside fellow RNC members, to engage with voters from all faiths and religions. Ronna McDaniel has been swift in condemning any tactics of bias, bigotry, or disparagement toward committee members. I wish Harmeet Dhillon would do the same.”

McDaniel, through a spokesperson, previously denied that her allies were engaging in a whisper campaign about Dhillon’s religion and pointed out that McDaniel, a Mormon, had felt the sting of religious bigotry as well.

The letter from Hinz coincides with a no-confidence vote that Republican Party of Florida members were scheduled to take a vote today concerning McDaniel, whom many fault for Republican woes in the past three elections. That vote took place but the committee did not have a quorum. A majority of those who did participate voted no confidence. McDaniel supporters say she’s being unfairly scapegoated. Other Sunbelt states have also approved no-confidence votes concerning McDaniel, but her team insists she has enough votes to win reelection on Jan. 27.