Exclusive for SC Hotline and Grand Strand Daily
By Dean Allen
The embattled former state chairman of the South Carolina Republican Party, Chad Connelly took another big political hit to his checkered career Monday night. The Greenville County Republican Party formally censured him for his egregious conduct at the Republican state convention earlier this year.
Greenville County, with a population of 450,000 is the largest county in the state. It is also by far the most Republican, and the most conservative, county in the state. Meeting in executive session, the county GOP took the unprecedented step of formally censuring Mr. Connelly. The vote to impose the censure garnered the support of a whopping 89% of the executive committee members present and voting.
The motion to Censure Chad Connelly was duly made and seconded in the last meeting of the county executive committee. However, it was pointed out, under the rules, the motion for censure could not be voted on at the same meeting when it was introduced. Rather than wait two months to consider the censure motion, twenty-three members of the executive committee signed a letter to County Chairman Betty Poe calling for a special meeting to vote on the censure motion. That special meeting was held Monday night.
The Greenville county delegation has the most votes in the state due to our population and our strong support for Republican candidates. The size of the Greenville delegation is then doubled by our traditional practice of electing twice as many delegates as we are allotted, and giving each delegate only a half vote. Connelly knew from the outset his strongest opposition would come from Greenville County, the home of his challenger in the race for state chairman.
The Greenville delegation was seated in the very rear of the arena, and the state convention was a classic railroad job from start to finish. The Connelly faction had enough votes to prevail. However, they wanted to do more than prevail, they intended from the start to completely shut out the Greenville delegation, comprising almost a quarter of all the delegates in the hall. They were not allowed to speak or make motions, floor microphones were selectively turned off, most questions were decided on dubious voice votes, and when the Greenville County Chairman and State Executive Committeeman complained, they were threatened with arrest and expulsion from the convention center.
The egregious treatment of the Greenville delegation was exacerbated days later when in an interview the then state chairman resorted to public name calling. In a widely distributed online newspaper Connelly called the Greenville delegation “hardline libertarians” and also “borderline anarchists.” Connelly concluded by bragging “if they can’t build a party, they would rather disrupt ours, and I think they learned just how popular that is.”
The pattern of bullying and dictatorial conduct by Connelly has not been limited to Greenville County. Connelly is currently the defendant in a lawsuit for slander and libel of another long time GOP activist in Rock Hill, SC. The judge denied a motion by Connelly’s lawyers to dismiss the libel suit and Connelly has till July 15th to file an answer to the complaint against him.
Connelly set off a firestorm of complaints and litigation before last year’s primary elections when his failure to understand the filing requirements, and explain them to candidates, caused over 100 candidates to be knocked off the GOP primary ballot. To pay mounting legal fees caused by his incompetence, Connelly mortgaged the Republican Party headquarters building in Columbia for $340,000.
At the last state executive committee meeting Connelly resigned as state chairman of the Republican Party, presumably to take a paying job from the RNC as a field coordinator responsible for outreach to Evangelical Christians! This astonished a lot of long time party activists who know of Connelly’s foul mouth in private, checked record in business, and failed leadership as party chairman.
Connelly protégé Matt Moore was rammed through the state executive committee meeting without any notice to become the new state chairman of the Republican Party. Moore quit a $100,000 a year job with Senator Tim Scott to become chairman of the SC GOP. A committee of the state executive committee was then appointed to determine compensation for Matt Moore in his new position.
The compensation package was later voted on in an executive session done by a telephone conference. Jim Lee, the state Committeeman representing Greenville County, objected to the phone conference but was out-voted and then participated. The state executive committee voted 33-3 to pay a salary to the new state chairman but refuses to make the amount public because it was voted on in executive session. We as Republicans complain about a lack of transparency from the Obama administration, and then refuse to tell the faithful grassroots activists in our own party how much they are being required to pay the new state chairman.
At the Greenville County meeting that censured Connelly, Jim Lee publicly admitted he knows how much Matt Moore is to be paid, but said he is prohibited from divulging the amount, because the action was taken in executive session.
Since 2009 the traditional, conservative, Ronald Reagan wing, of the Republican Party has grown dramatically as the tea party movement supplied a lot of new blood and more ordinary Americans, concerned with Obama’s radical agenda, became politically active for the first time. This rapid growth in the conservative wing of the party has shifted power away from more liberal country club Republicans who tend to embrace moderate candidates like John McCain, Lindsey Graham, and Mitt Romney.
Chad Connelly is a not too bright, former Amway salesman, who once tried to sell the right to name the South Carolina presidential primary to liberal activist Stephen Colbert. By using the pliable Connelly as their hatchet man in the fight against conservatives, the country club crowd is able to pretend to be above the fray and have clean hands in the battle against conservatives. One is left to wonder if Ronald Reagan, who supported free markets, Judeo-Christian ethics, and peace through strength, would also be maligned as a “borderline anarchist” if he was running in South Carolina today?