Sean Hannity Got Facts Completely Wrong in Radio Monologue on TNGOP Disqualification of Morgan Ortagus

Sean Hannity got the facts completely wrong in a monologue he gave on the Monday, April 25 edition of his nationally syndicated radio program on the Tennessee Republican Party’s action disqualifying carpetbagger Morgan Ortagus from the Tennessee 5th Congressional District August 4 Republican primary race.

On his radio show, Hannity accused the TNGOP of “actually being willing to change the rules in the middle of the game.”

Hannity continued, “Now, the state party removed the candidates because they say that they didn’t meet their requirements to be considered Tennessee Republicans. The problem is the Tennessee and Democratic parties have the ability to set their own rules. But these rules, as I understand it, were adopted after they had already been on the ballot or had announced their candidacy. So in other words, seems like they’re changing it in midstream.”

There’s one problem with Hannity’s interpretation: The Tennessee GOP bylaws, as currently written and applied, predate the TN-5 U.S. House race.

It is unclear if he was given bad information; however, Hannity simply got it wrong, like so many other national figures who have weighed in despite knowing nothing about what occurs in Tennessee.

The Tennessee Star Editor-in-Chief Michael Patrick Leahy previously laid out the timeline and exact details of the history of the TNGOP bylaws as they affected the challenge and disqualification process.

Here is a summary of the facts and dates that dispute Hannity’s misinformed claim:

August 2017 – This is the month that the Tennessee Republican Party amended its bylaws, updating the requirements for a candidate seeking the GOP nomination to be determined to be a “bona fide” Tennessee Republican. With the exception of who is the final adjudicator of challenges, these bylaws changes governed the disqualification process of Ortagus and the other two candidates.

Rather than meeting any one of three standards, candidates now had to meet the first of three previous standards – being active in the Tennessee Republican Party, plus one of two additional standards:

One, being vouched for in writing as a “bona fide” Republican to the satisfaction of the party chairman – was exactly the same as one of the three previous standards.

The second of those two standards – having voted in three of the four most recent statewide Republican primaries – was more stringent than the earlier third standard, which only required an individual to have voted in two of the four most recent statewide Republican primaries.

This change occurred four years and three months before Ortagus even registered to vote in the state, four years and five months before President Trump offered his endorsement, and four years and six months before she declared for the race.

August 4, 2021 This is the date that the Tennessee Republican Party amended the bylaws to make the committee the adjudicator of the process in place of just the party chairman. The standards themselves did not change from 2017, only those parties empowered to adjudicate them.

This change occurred three months before Ortagus even registered to vote in the state, five months before President Trump offered his endorsement, and six months before she declared for the race.

November 2021 Morgan Ortagus registered to vote for the first time in Tennessee.

January 26, 2022 – Former President Donald Trump announced his endorsement of Morgan Ortagus,  just two months after she registered to vote in Tennessee for the first time.

February 7, 2022  Morgan Ortagus announced her candidacy for the GOP nomination in TN-5.

February 27 , 2022 – Challenges were filed with the TNGOP to Ortagus’ candidacy, as well as the candidacies of Robby Starbuck, Baxter Lee, and Stewart Parks on the grounds they do not meet the requirements to be a “bona fide” Tennessee Republican eligible under the bylaws of the TNGOP to be a candidate for the August 4, 2022 Tennessee Republican party primary.

April 19, 2022 – The SEC permanently removed Ortagus, as well as Starbuck and Baxter Lee, from the August 4 GOP primary ballot in TN-5.

April 21, 2022 – TRP Chairman Scott Golden transmitted a letter to Tennessee Coordinator of Elections Mark Goins informing him that Starbuck, Ortagus, and Baxter Lee were permanently removed from the TN-5 August 4 GOP primary ballot.

In August of 2021, The SEC passed a bylaws amendment which revised the decision maker authorized to determine the “bona fide” Tennessee Republican status of candidates eligible to run for public office in a TN GOP primary. The decision maker was changed from the chair to the committee.

One of the changes made to the bylaws reads: “The final decision concerning said individual’s bona fide Republican status shall be determined by a majority vote of the following: the State Chairman and each SEC member who represents any portion of the district covered by said individual’s proposed candidacy.”

The same amendment additionally prohibited GOP elected officials and State Executive Committee members from vouching for the bona fide status of candidates who had been challenged: “Any individual who is vouched for in writing (to the satisfaction of the decision makers defined herein) as a bona fide Republican by an officer of the TRP or a member of the CEC, excluding SEC members, of the County and/or District where said individual resides. The decision makers defined herein may require additional verification that said individual is indeed a bona fide Republican.”

A challenged candidate being vouched for is not enough to restore that candidate to the GOP primary ballot as a “bona fide” Tennessee Republican eligible to be placed on the GOP primary ballot for a public office, according to the bylaws.

The challenged candidate must be vouched for “to the satisfaction of the decision makers defined herein,” which in the case of candidates challenged in the 5th Congressional District consists of 16 members of the SEC and Chairman Golden.

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Aaron Gulbransen is a reporter at The Tennessee Star and The Star News Network. Email tips to [email protected]. Follow Aaron on GETTRTwitter, and Parler.
Photo “Sean Hannity” by Gage Skidmore. CC BY-SA 2.0. Photo “Morgan Ortagus” by U.S. Department of State. Background Photo “United States Capitol” by David Maiolo. CC BY-SA 3.0.

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7 Thoughts to “Sean Hannity Got Facts Completely Wrong in Radio Monologue on TNGOP Disqualification of Morgan Ortagus”

  1. aries9899

    I’ve heard Ortegus on a number of interviews and she continually uses the same b.s. about how it was dishonest of the party to remove her. Emerald Robinson interviewed her and I caught it on Gettr so I responded to Emerald’s posting of the interview by linking to the TN Star’s article documenting all the whys and hows this happened. Robby Starbuck has shown himself to be a nasty parody of a man. Neither of these people have approached this whole situation with maturity or honesty. I am not in CD5 (I’m in CD7) but I have been very interested in Andy Ogles running and was supportive of him when he ran for governor against Bill Lee. How I wish he would have won against the faux conservative we have in Bill Lee. Lee may as well be Lamar Alexander.

  2. Vivien Allen

    I heard Ortagus’ interview with Sean and I was truly shocked by her misrepresentation of the facts, and her claim that she was going to work to “clean up the GOP in Tennessee.” Tennessee dodged a bullet when they chose to force her to follow the law and dropped her off of the ballot. Kudos to Mr. Leahy for his diligence in vetting her and the other candidates.

  3. Mark Knofler

    Typical, Hannity is a mental midget on his best day. His repetitive schtick is annoying and his lack of IQ points, it’s no wonder he’s buying Morgan’s whinnying.

    It can’t be asked enough, what is at play? It’s no coincidence she gets endorsed, her biggest donor just happens to be moving to Nashville and she only does national media.

    Bye Felicia !

  4. John Bumpus

    A recurring problem in Conservative/Republican politics is that of the RINO (i.e., a Republican In Name Only) who is merely more a DEMOCRAT LITE than a ‘real’ Conservative/Republican.

    Since in a Republic, the people select candidates who represent their own views to become the holders of public office, it matters WHO one votes for to hold elective public office, whether those candidates become judicial officers, legislators or executive officials. Thus, dishonest, lying candidates who claim to be one thing but in reality are something very different have been/are a big problem in Conservative/Republican politics. (The Democrats/Progressives/Socialists/Marxists/Communists do not seem to have a comparable DINO (i.e., a Democrat In Name Only) problem. For one thing, the Dems just don’t allow it. The Dems have demanded more conformity from their candidates than the Conservatives/Republicans have.) And accordingly, the Conservative/Republican Party, in my opinion, has every right to try to ‘ferret out’ and prevent dishonest, lying candidates from becoming Conservative/Republican nominees for elective public office, whatever the office.

    As I have said before, if Morgan Ortagus et al. truly, sufficiently cared about the people that she claimed (past tense—because she is ‘off’ the ballot now as a Conservative/Republican candidate in the present TN-5 election) to want to represent (rather than merely caring/acting for only herself and her own interests) she would be responding to the decision of the Tennessee Republican Party in her case differently—very differently.

    Ortagus et al. will ‘get over it.’ She/they will have to. The Tennessee Republican Party has now shown itself to no longer be a mere political ‘sap’ in these matters. It’s about time. Conservative/Republican Parties elsewhere in our nation could learn a valuable lesson from the Tennessee Republican Party in how it has pre-emptively ‘handled’ this problem in our State.

    1. Stuart I. Anderson

      Well, not exactly John. What you are talking about is adherence to conservative ideology and the failure to do so by so many Republican officeholders which causes the Republicans to be so pathetically inept once they gain the majority and actually have to govern. What the TN Republican Party has done now is to enforce a rule that says you simply have to show up at Republican primaries a certain number of times to be allowed to run as a Republican. Nothing at all about whether or not you’re a “Conservative/Republican” who actually believes in the platform of the party.

      I’m afraid that the problem lies in the fact that too many people who consider themselves Republicans don’t pay close enough attention to the records of candidates running in Republican primaries. The Democrats take adherence to left-wing ideology more seriously than Republicans take adherence to conservative ideology hence the difference in accomplishment between the two parties once they get a chance to govern. The Democrats hit the accelerator driving left, the Republicans tap the brakes.

      Another primary will be here in a few months. In the 5th district there will be a platoon of candidates running for the high office of U.S. Congressman with little or no political record. HOW CAN ANYONE SERIOUSLY CONSIDER VOTING FOR SUCH A CANDIDATE? Beats me, but many do, over and over again. There are only two candidates with records that warrant their being considered and fortunately both are conservatives. Andy Ogles is very conservative. Beth Harwell (ACU-86%) less so. I’m with Andy.

      1. John Bumpus

        The Tennessee General Assembly and the Tennessee Republican Party cannot do everything. Granted, the voters must necessarily, and must always, bear the ‘lion’s share’ of the responsibility for sorting ‘the wheat’ from ‘the chaff.’ But in this instance, the Tennessee General Assembly and the Tennessee Republican Party, in my opinion, did yeoman’s work for which each should be commended. At least, the two aforesaid bodies eliminated the ‘carpetbaggers.’ One word in the interest of full disclosure–I live in TN-4 (Shelbyville). But I have interests in the new TN-5. And so, despite the fact that I cannot vote in TN-5 , I very much care who the new Congressman/woman will be in TN-5.

    2. Dave R

      All Conservative press except Epoch Times has this totally backwards. Its so frustrating, but Hannity has always been a dummy