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Wilson County GOP calls for firing of state party leader

Tennessee Republic Party chairman Ryan Haynes.

Wilson County Republicans drew a line in the sand with their party on Monday by passing a resolution calling for the executive committee of the Tennessee Republican Party to consider holding a special session in an effort to fire party Chairman Ryan Haynes and two other party officials.

In the resolution, the 11-member Wilson County Republican Executive Committee called for the termination of Haynes, a Knoxvillian and former lawmaker; Brent Leatherwood, the state party's executive director; and Walker Ferrell, the party's political director.

The vote was based on the state party leaders' decisions surrounding a political consulting firm, led by Ferrell's wife, that was working with candidates challenging GOP incumbents in this year's primary.

The move comes one month after 27 House Republicans called for Ferrell to be fired after it was revealed that his wife, Taylor Ferrell, the founder of Southland Advantage, a Hendersonville-based political consulting firm, had been working for two challengers of incumbent Republicans.

The lawmakers argued that Walker Ferrell could potentially share party information and referrals to assist his wife — and accused party superiors of condoning it.

Days after the letter was sent to Haynes, Taylor Ferrell said she ended her contracts with two clients but said the accusations against her were false and based on "wrong information."

Leatherwood also pointed to several lawmakers who had originally signed the letter but walked back their opposition to the Ferrells.

Despite Taylor Ferrell's decision, Wilson County Republicans decided to pass the resolution Monday morning, noting that Taylor Ferrell "offered her services" to Republicans running against U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais, state Rep. Judd Matheny, R-Tullahoma, and state Rep. Courtney Rogers, R-Goodlettsville.

Taylor Ferrell never confirmed the candidates with whom she had contracts.

According to the resolution, Haynes and Leatherwood "chose to do nothing to correct this injustice against Elected Republicans."

"Therefore, as the Executive Committee of the Wilson County Republican Party, we immediately demand that the State Executive Committee call a special session to consider the immediate termination of Ryan Haynes as Chairman, Brent Leatherwood as Executive Director, Walker Ferrell as Political Director and to terminate all contracts with Taylor Ferrell and to issue public apologies on behalf of the Tennessee Republican Party to all Republican Incumbents affected by their actions," the resolution states.

"We want them all fired because it destroys faith in the process," Jeff Hartline, vice-secretary of the Wilson County Republican Party Executive Committee, said on Monday.The process he was referring to is a provision in the state GOP bylaws that prohibits the Wilson County Republican Party and similar entities throughout the state from being involved in primary elections.

Hartline said Haynes, Leatherwood and Ferrell are not supposed to show partiality in any Republican primary elections.

According to Hartline, it would take one-third or 22 members of the executive committee to hold a special session to consider the matter.Leatherwood did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The state GOP executive director previously said the party would not terminate Walker Ferrell from his post and denied he or any Tennessee GOP staffer were involved in any legislative primaries.

“Chairman Haynes considers all these individuals good friends and would in no way allow his staff be involved in their primaries,” Leatherwood said in the past. “TN GOP bylaws prohibit staff members from being involved in primaries, so it has never happened and it never will. Voters are the ones who decide who nominees are and then we work with those individuals to go beat Democrats.”

Leatherwood also previously confirmed Taylor Ferrell is still under contract with the party to manage all the party's activities at the upcoming Republican National Convention.