Talk about a head fake … or rather two head fakes.
It turns out former SCGOP Chairman Katon Dawson never really resigned his membership in a “whites only” South Carolina country club – he just pretended to resign while he ran for chairman of the Republican National Committee in 2008.
Accordingly, Dawson never technically “rejoined” the club in 2009, as he has been privately telling supporters.
Sources familiar with the club’s financial records tell FITS that Dawson actually paid his membership dues at the Forest Lake Country Club in Columbia, S.C. throughout the RNC campaign – and as a result was never removed from the club’s membership rolls.
“He paid in advance for the duration of his leave,” one of the sources told FITS. “He has never not been a member of Forest Lake.”
Another source said Dawson paid five months worth of dues in advance.
In September of 2008, Dawson publicly resigned his 12-year membership in the club – or so everyone thought.
In a letter to its members, Dawson urged the club to consider changing its policy of refusing to admit blacks – a prohibition which is nowhere in the Forest Lake by-laws but appears in a deed to the property on which the club sits.
“We have a responsibility to expeditiously make right this longstanding wrong,” Dawson wrote at the time.
Of course, Dawson only made his decision after reporters at The (Columbia S.C.) State newspaper had uncovered proof of his membership at the club and were preparing to publish a story about it. Also, the auto parts salesman turned political consultant quickly changed his tune after he was defeated last January by former Maryland Lt. Gov. Michael Steele in his quest to lead the RNC.
Subsequent investigations by FITS revealed that S.C. Attorney General Henry McMaster – the current GOP gubernatorial front-runner – and Republican first Congressional District candidate Carroll A. Campbell III were (and are) also members of the club.
So is State Sen. John Courson.
Current USC Board of Trustees member William C. Hubbard (who is up for reelection in 2010) was also a member of the club, but resigned in 2008 to seek a leadership position with the American Bar Association.
FITS also uncovered Dawson and McMaster’s memberships in several other “whites only” social clubs.