TEMPESTUOUS RACE ALREADY PRODUCING FIREWORKS …
They don’t call it the “fightin’ fifth” for nothing …
Former S.C. Republican Party chairman Chad Connelly – one of the top tier contenders for the Palmetto State’s recently vacated fifth congressional district – is drawing incoming fire over his alleged mismanagement of the state party’s finances.
Connelly – who led the SCGOP from 2011-2013 – is one of six announced candidates in the race to replace former U.S. Rep. Mick Mulvaney, who resigned this seat to become the next director of the White House’s Office of Management and Budget (OMB).
Connelly announced his candidacy last week. His entry into the race has prompted several of his opponents to begin circulating a three-and-a-half minute video in which one of Connelly’s former opponents for the 2013 SCGOP chairman’s race – Samuel Harms – accused him of destroying the party’s finances.
“He talks about raising more money than any other chairman,” Harms says in the nearly four-year-old video clip. “I’m here to tell you that’s just baloney.”
Take a look …
(Click to view)
According to Harms, Connelly took out a $340,000 loan in January of 2013 – using the party’s Columbia, S.C. headquarters as collateral – because the organization was “literally on the verge of fiscal collapse” at the time.
Harms also accused Connelly of pushing for a “one million dollar government bailout” for the SCGOP in 2012.
Connelly resigned as SCGOP chairman in June of 2013 to become a member of the Republican National Committee (RNC). He was replaced by Matt Moore, who recently announced his intention to step down at the end of his term in 2017.
So are the allegations against Connelly accurate? Yes … and no.
The party did borrow $340,000 in 2013, but that was in response to the infamous “Ballot-mageddon” drama – a mass purge of the state’s 2012 primary ballot which took place after several hundred candidates failed to properly fill out their paperwork when filing for various elected offices.
Was that Connelly’s fault? No … although some have claimed he should have provided better counsel to these aspiring candidates.
As for the $1 million bailout, that’s a reference to the 2012 “First in the South” presidential primary – which was run by the S.C. Election Commission (SCEC). This same appropriation was approved for the 2008 and 2016 presidential primary elections, incidentally.
Connelly’s top campaign advisor, Luke Byars, dismissed the recycled allegations against his candidate.
“With all due respect there’s nothing new here,” Byars told us. “These attacks were proven false and as a result Chad won reelection overwhelmingly.”
According to Byars, Connelly’s opponents are rehashing old lines of attack in an attempt to discredit his recent entry into the race.
“We created a lot of momentum last week with Chad’s announcement and the tour he did of the fifth district, I guess some folks are already getting nervous,” Byars said. “They should be.”
Joining Connelly in the race for Mulvaney’s seat (so far) are social conservative activist Sheri Few of Lugoff, Camden businessman and S.C. State Guard leader Tom Mullikin, S.C. Speaker pro tempore Tommy Pope of York, S.C. Rep. Ralph Norman of Rock Hill and attorney Kris Wampler of Indian Land.
Mulvaney had represented the fifth district since January of 2011 – defeating U.S. House budget committee chairman John Spratt in the Tea Party wave election of 2010.
The fifth district (map) covers the northern central portion of South Carolina – including the booming suburbs of Charlotte, N.C. It has been reliably Republican since it was redrawn prior to the 2012 elections – which is one reason Democrats are having trouble getting top prospects (like S.C. Rep. Mandy Powers Norrell) to consider running for the seat.
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