January 5th, 2010
07:20 PM ET
8 years ago

Graham, S.C. GOP leaders push back against censure

Sen. Lindsey Graham was censured Monday by a county party in South Carolina.

Sen. Lindsey Graham was censured Monday by a county party in South Carolina.

(CNN) - South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham defended his record as a consensus-builder on Tuesday and said the Lexington County Republican Party's decision to censure him on Monday was the work of a few angry Ron Paul supporters intent on purifying the GOP.

The resolution, which censured Graham for supporting the 2008 financial bailout and working towards a compromise on cap-and-trade legislation, passed Monday night by a 13-7 vote.

"I have tried my best to be a conservative that can grow and build this party," Graham said, according to The State newspaper. "They have no desire to do that - I do."

South Carolina Rep. Joe Wilson, who became a conservative hero after he shouted "You lie!" at President Obama during a major speech last year, hails from Lexington County. He also defended Graham.

“Lindsey Graham has been a great leader for our state and party," Wilson said in a statement to CNN. "I appreciate everything he has done for me and his tireless work in helping Republicans at all levels of government. He’s a team player. Ronald Reagan always said that people who agree with you 80 percent of the time should be considered a good friend. Reagan was a wise man and if we want to build a strong, vibrant Republican Party we should follow his advice.”

Shortly after Graham's comments about the censure on Tuesday, former leaders of the Lexington County Republican Party in South Carolina contacted the current party chairman to question the censure effort.

Four former Lexington County GOP chairs co-wrote an e-mail to party chairman Rich Bolen claiming that Graham was "ambushed" by the vote because party members were not told ahead of Monday's meeting that any resolutions would be considered - especially one censuring the state's senior senator. As a result, they wrote, not all members of the county party attended the meeting to express their views.

"The resolution should have been added to the agenda and sent out in advance, and every member of the committee should have been given a chance to participate in the process," they wrote.

The e-mail, provided to CNN by a source close to Graham, was written by former Lexington GOP leaders Scott Malyerck, Katrina Shealy, Butch Wallace, and Lyman Whitehead.

(Full text of e-mail after the jump)

The former chairs said the censure was the product of a "vocal" and "disgruntled" minority within the Lexington GOP.

"We don't agree with the Senator on every issue, but we don't agree with any elected official on every vote," they wrote. "Overall, we believe Senator Graham to be a conservative stalwart and accomplished leader in our Party."

Graham was also censured by the Charleston County GOP in November over similar complaints about his commitment to conservative principles.

Full text of e-mail to Lexington County GOP chairman Rich Bolen:

January 5, 2010

Rich Bolen, Chairman
Lexington County Republican Party
PO Box 1346
Lexington, SC 29071

Dear Rich,

We are incredibly disappointed about the events of last night's Executive Committee meeting, and we are very discouraged about what a handful of members of the committee were allowed to do in the name of the Lexington County Republican Party. We believe the actions of a disgruntled few will tarnish the years of hard work invested by thousands of Republicans who have worked for years to build our Party.

Senator Lindsey Graham is a conservative problem-solver who is helping us build the Republican Party in Lexington County and South Carolina. With a 90% lifetime conservative rating, he fits the mold of his predecessor Strom Thurmond, who we all knew. We don't agree with the Senator on every issue, but we don't agree with any elected official on every vote. Overall, we believe Senator Graham to be a conservative stalwart and accomplished leader in our Party. He certainly did not deserve to be ambushed like he was last night.

We think it is unfair that the censure resolution was allowed to move forward last evening. On the e-mail notice that went out before the meeting, there was no mention that any resolutions would be considered, much less a resolution to censure our senior United States Senator. When the time came for a decision about whether a quorum existed or whether the motion should be postponed until February, the demands of a vocal minority won. For something as serious as a censure resolution, the process should have been above reproach – especially as to whether a quorum even existed or if the people voting were even on the executive committee (a list which no one had at the meeting). The resolution should have been added to the agenda and sent out in advance, and every member of the committee should have been given a chance to participate in the process.

As it now stands, 13 people have now spoken for our county's 70 organized precincts and the 23,000 Republicans who voted in our 2008 primary. This is completely unfair and very disappointing.

We stand ready to fight Democrats, register more conservative voters, and get more Republicans to the polls, but we will not be part of circular firing squads that tear down our beloved Party.


Scott Malyerck, Katrina Shealy, Butch Wallace, and Lyman Whitehead

Former Chairmen of the Lexington County Republican Party

Filed under: Joe Wilson • Lindsey Graham • South Carolina
soundoff (41 Responses)
  1. Francis Marion

    Once again, the entire South Carolina GOP party gives into the demands of a rabid few. Wake up, South Carolina, you are an embarrassment.

    January 5, 2010 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  2. Too True For You

    Ah, the Red State Purity Patrol – if you are guilty of insufficiently abject prostration before the shrine of the Reich-wing extremist fringe, then you are excommunicated to the Siberia of those who think the Earth might not be flat and there might be other ideas out there that have merit.

    January 5, 2010 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  3. gt

    sounds like what the senate needs more off ,,,,people who stand up for the voters ...not just for pac and contributors...

    January 5, 2010 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  4. Chris Matt

    Time to become a Democrat in SC.

    January 5, 2010 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  5. son

    Graham has got to go. What he thinks is rebuilding the party is exactly what has torn it down and we are sick of him and the rest of these so called Conservatives who never saw a spending bill they didn't like. Its no wonder the Dems took control of congress. All us citizen conservatives stayed at home and didn't vote. I mean, what's the point. There's no difference between the Republicans and Democrats. Their main goals is to line their own pockets. If were to get honest straight shooting conservatives who don't speak with forked tongues we could get US back on track. I just wonder if it's too late.

    January 5, 2010 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  6. George Guadiane - Austerlitz, NY

    Seems you can't have it both ways Lindsey...

    Can't be a spend and spend "Liberal" and call yourself a "Conservative" Republican, can you???

    January 5, 2010 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  7. John

    The Republicans could well "purify" themselves into a permanent minority party.

    January 5, 2010 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  8. scott from MICH

    "Purifying" the GOP. Just not a suprising thing to hear. If they could they'd fly a flag just like one the world saw waving in Germany in the 40s. These people on the right truly are dangerous to this nation. Just as Hitler was. They run on a very similar political platform. where's the GOP OUTRAGE at their strongholds in georgia hanging resemblences of our President??? The GOP leadership fosters this sick behavior.

    January 5, 2010 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  9. Fooled Again

    Graham should be kicked out of the Republican Party. This guy is destroying American with his stances on torture, bailouts,wars, illegal wiretapping,corruption. I'm glad Ron Paul supporters and others see this guy for what he is.

    January 5, 2010 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  10. Jack Lowe - MI

    Just like the Arabs, the regressives spend more time cutting each other's throats than they do their opponents.

    January 5, 2010 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  11. Annie

    Look the Republicans can't even agree on the censure of one of their own party members........I agree that the angry right wingers probably did do this to PURIFY their party.......we can all see that to be a Republican you have to support the religious right wing conservatives or you aren't a Republican......you can' have any other views.......there is no room in the GOP for people to speak or vote their own way......it has to be the way the TEA BAGGERS, CLUB OF GROWTH, LIMBAUGH, CHENEY, PALIN way or NO WAY AT ALL

    January 5, 2010 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  12. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    Wilson is an ignorant idiot and I'm sure Reagan would turn over in his grave having this ignoramous use his quote when he doesn't have the class to go with it.

    January 5, 2010 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  13. Timus

    Republicans do an awesome job of eating their own!! Why would anyone want to align themselves with these folks?

    January 5, 2010 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  14. JT the Show Me State College Freshman

    I am a moderate Democrat, and I agree with most of this statement; it is undemocratic to censure someone because they do not follow all party beliefs. I commend Senator Graham for standing up against his own party. Purging someone from your own party is never a smart thing to do. The democratic party has three distinct bases; liberal, moderate, and conservative. We may not agree on some issues, but we are willing to talk it amonst one another to come up with a compromise that satisfies the party in whole, even if some of us do not agree with it's content. If all the three bases of the democratic party comes together, then the legislation will be more complete, and cover a lot more ground on a lot of isses within whatever bill we try to pass. To the GOP: If you purge all the moderates from your party, you will be making the biggest mistake that you could possibly make, and you will not regain the majority for a long time to come. Please stop this, while you still have time left.

    January 5, 2010 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  15. Hammerer

    Graham is a perfect example of a politican. For sale!

    January 5, 2010 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  16. Ancient Texan

    Crossing the aisle for the good of the nation is one thing. Voting for the garbage that Graham voted for is a self-defeating pair of bills that will help bankrupt America.

    January 5, 2010 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  17. Thomas, Baton Rouge, LA

    When did allegiance to the Party become more important than serving the constituents? The US Government is broken. The only difference between the parties is to whom they pander.

    January 5, 2010 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  18. JT the Show Me State College Freshman

    I also commend him for standing up for Cap and Trade; I know Cap and Trade is not popular, but how else are we going to make the right decisions to take care of our environment. Not to be offensive to anyone, but we have proven that we cannot make the right decision on our own, so as a parent often has to do, he or she has to step in to correct the child. Trust me, I have had recent experience in the past years with that, just to be funny. I know I may be young, but I think it is never too early to get involved in the political process. Just to let you know, Cap and Trade is an environmental policy tool that delivers results with a mandatory cap on emissions while providing sources flexibility in how they comply. Successful cap and trade programs reward innovation, efficiency, and early action and provide strict environmental accountability without inhibiting economic growth. We humans still have the ability to change our future; our destiny is written for us by us (the people). We need to realize that; that is how I am going to try to live the rest of my life.

    January 5, 2010 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  19. John in Tampa

    I have been a registered independent for over 30 years and don't generally offer support to politicians of either stripe-but I'm with Lindsey Graham on this one. It was sneaky how the local Republicans did this without fair warning, and stupid how they are litmus-testing their way into oblivion. I am reminded of the line from a late-50s folk song about the John Birch Society: 'there's no-one left but me and thee, and I'm not sure of thee.'

    January 5, 2010 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  20. spinnikerca

    " people who agree with you 80 percent of the time should be considered a good friend. "

    Really? Even when the remaining 20% of the time has 90% of the impact? Lots of agreement on surficial issues and deep disagreement on basic ones - like not looting main street to pay wallstreet - does not make him represent us. And party leaders who condone that are representing HIM, not us, as well.

    January 5, 2010 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  21. VON BISMARK -Vienna

    What goes round comes around! Serves you right!

    January 5, 2010 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  22. Tom

    Wow. Chafee, Specter, Crist in trouble, now Graham. Leave it to Club for Growth and a few others, there's not going to be a practical republican left. Congrats to the former chairmen for stepping up.

    January 5, 2010 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
  23. Mickey

    Senator Lindsey Graham, along with Joe WIlson and the rest of the Republican/Conservative movement in this country, are enemies of the American people.

    They are traitors. Period.

    January 5, 2010 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |
  24. J.L.

    Ah, the purity test...

    "Growing" the party by excluding people. Got some geniuses in the GOP... but I guess this is a good thing. They can exclude themselves in to irrelevance...

    January 5, 2010 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |
  25. Mike Koutsouris

    Sounds like conservatives are getting back to their core principals of intolerance.

    January 5, 2010 05:57 pm at 5:57 pm |
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