Sixteen members of the South Carolina Freedom Caucus were expelled from the “Republican” party in the state House of Representatives this week, according to the group’s leadership.
What did they do? They refused to sign a “loyalty oath” vowing to abstain from campaigning against any other “Republican” House member.
“Over the past few weeks there has been a push by a faction of extreme moderates within the Republican Caucus to purge the most conservative members of the caucus,” state representative Adam Morgan, chairman of the Freedom Caucus, said during a press conference in Columbia, S.C. on Tuesday. “This was accomplished by weaponizing caucus rules, specifically instituting a loyalty pledge.”
Here is a video of the press conference …
(Click to view)
In case you’ve missed our coverage of this issue, GOP majority leader Davey Hiott of Pickens County and S.C. speaker pro tempore Tommy Pope of Rock Hill have been attempting for weeks to force an incumbent protection racket on twenty conservative members of the caucus. Specifically, they have been pushing a rule (.pdf) which states that no GOP lawmaker “shall engage in campaign activities of any kind against any other caucus member in good standing.”
The impetus for this proposed rule? The recent defeat of several influential “moderate” GOP leaders during the 2022 GOP primary elections last June.
As I noted in my prior coverage of this issue, the loyalty oath is “a clear effort on the part of GOP leaders to insulate left-of-center establishment ‘Republicans’ from credible conservative challengers next year.” It is also a brazenly transparent bid “to prevent those on the right from gaining additional seats within the caucus.”
The “weaponization” referenced by Morgan is the alleged adoption of excessively broad interpretations of the term “campaign activities.” Among purportedly verboten “campaign activities?” Posting images of the House’s electronic voting board on members’ social media pages – and publicly criticizing other members over the “internal processes” behind House votes.
According to Pope, "the portrayal by FITSNews and others (of the rules) as a loyalty oath, or that members cannot take pictures of the (voting) board or that Davey Hiott and I are the ring leaders working to drive members of the Freedom Caucus out is inaccurate and disingenuous.”
“Republicans” occupy 88 out of 124 seats in the House – or 70.9 percent of the of the chamber. The S.C. Senate – which is on the cusp of a GOP supermajority – was not on the ballot in 2022. Its members face voters again in 2024.
Unfortunately, GOP rule has not resulted in the adoption of fiscally conservative policies in South Carolina. If anything, the opposite has been the case – one reason the SCGOP-controlled General Assembly has ranked as the most liberal “Republican-controlled” state legislature in America three years running.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR ...
Will Folks is the founding editor of the news outlet you are currently reading. Prior to founding FITSNews, he served as press secretary to the governor of South Carolina. He lives in the Midlands region of the state with his wife and seven children.
WANNA SOUND OFF?
Got something you’d like to say in response to one of our articles? Or an issue you’d like to proactively address? We have an open microphone policy here at FITSNews! Submit your letter to the editor (or guest column) via email HERE. Got a tip for a story? CLICK HERE. Got a technical question or a glitch to report? CLICK HERE.