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

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

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/07/13/art.graham.cnn.jpg caption="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. WAW

    McCarthyism is not far away. Why Republicans revert back to it makes no sense whatsoever.

    January 5, 2010 06:03 pm at 6:03 pm |
  2. ran

    Keep up the exclusion of people GOP and soon you will be the minority party for life. Which is fine with me.

    People either vote for a true Democrat or an Independent in 2010/2012.

    January 5, 2010 06:06 pm at 6:06 pm |
  3. Gerry NH

    And the democrats still protect Rangel. Real class

    January 5, 2010 06:43 pm at 6:43 pm |
  4. B

    Following Reagan’s deregulation of everything is just what gave us this national disaster that we now have! The republicans just don’t get it, and would repeat the same mistakes that we all witnessed for the last eight year nightmare !

    January 5, 2010 06:49 pm at 6:49 pm |
  5. Bill of Florida

    You know, as a democrat, I respected Senator Graham. If you republicans get rid of him in South Carolina, you are doing yourselves grave harm. Senator Graham is a concensus builder. Do not let the radical right prevail. If you continue to exclude people like Senator Graham, what you will have left will be unelectable. That is fair warning to you.

    January 5, 2010 07:10 pm at 7:10 pm |
  6. Mountain Dude

    The GOP "Whig out" continues.

    January 5, 2010 07:16 pm at 7:16 pm |
  7. Michael from Ventura

    Keep eating your own-will make for a much Congress!

    January 5, 2010 07:19 pm at 7:19 pm |
  8. Party Purity will never bring Political Power!

    You have to laugh when the demon that Graham helped to create, turns on it's creator!

    You cons keep up the good work.

    Palin/Bachmann 2012!

    January 5, 2010 07:22 pm at 7:22 pm |
  9. TOTUS

    Senator Grahamnesty has seen his moment in the spotlight. He will go along with all of his loony lib friends...

    January 5, 2010 07:29 pm at 7:29 pm |
  10. Michael, Gallatin, TN

    This just shows what low life's these so-called "conservative" repukes really are. They even back stab their own friends. Is it any wonder they try to bend the rest of us over with regularity?

    January 5, 2010 07:40 pm at 7:40 pm |
  11. Albo58

    While I totally disagree with Graham's position on the junk science tax that is the Cap&Trade concept, I really did like the way he dressed that stooge AG, Eric Holder, down about his totally ridiculous idea of trying those illegal combatants in New York City! Certainly I believe that the Republican Party has enough a room for both moderates and conservatives alike...

    January 5, 2010 07:41 pm at 7:41 pm |
  12. Peter

    I must admit, what has happened to Graham is awful...If Republicans act like this, Dems will dominate 2010....

    Dems 2010!

    January 5, 2010 07:50 pm at 7:50 pm |
  13. Mike in Texas

    This is why we need to get rid of political parties. Let the voters choose their top 20 issues and have each candidate give their view on each one. I am a moderate/liberal and I have conservative friends and we all agree on this.

    Vote on a candidates stance on issues not on party affiliation.

    The two party system is a crock!!

    January 5, 2010 07:56 pm at 7:56 pm |
  14. m smith

    The repos are disgusting. They can't even stick togeather. Why would anyone want to be one? Any ideas that don't meet their strick criteria and boy your done for. So much for indepndent thinking. No wonder the party is in crisis. With the likes of wilson palin limbaugh and all the other nut jobs. They need to wake up and start working for the people.

    January 5, 2010 08:03 pm at 8:03 pm |
  15. Jack

    What a crock... Lindsey Graham has a long, rich history of service to this country. The South Carolina GOP has once again showed their ignorance. It the GOP want to censure someone, they need to look at their own governor.

    January 5, 2010 08:25 pm at 8:25 pm |
  16. Donovan

    OOPS looks like we shouldn't have shot first then asked questions. Didn't Hitler try to purify the NAZI party? Is this similar to ethnic cleansing. It's political cleansing. Folks we are going to keep this up until we start shooting at each other because we are right or left. How about we stop the name calling and start having constructive conversations. If we don't agree with what is going on, keep talking about it until we find consensus. OMG what a concept. Everybody working together to solve problems instead of working to destroy each other.

    January 5, 2010 09:00 pm at 9:00 pm |
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