PoliticsState House

Guest Column: South Carolina’s ‘Freedom Caucus’ Tilting At Windmills

Micah Caskey: “The self-proclaimed constitutionalists are searching for an activist judge who will re-write our laws.”

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Last week, the South Carolina House “Freedom Caucus” filed a lawsuit against fellow Republicans on the S.C. House Ethics Committee in federal court. You could be forgiven for not noticing a gesticulation ripped from the pages of its Washington, D.C. playbook that seems to call for increasingly desperate attention-seeking stunts, but in this litigation, they’ve reached a new low that deserves condemnation.

Under our state’s campaign finance laws, only certain groups are permitted to fundraise and campaign in coordination with a candidate for elected office. The only groups presently allowed to do that are called caucuses (technically, a “legislative caucus committee”). For members of the S.C. House, the specific caucuses allowed to do it are the Republican Caucus, the Democratic Caucus, the Legislative Black Caucus, and the Women’s Caucus.

You can read about it for yourself here.

Why only those groups? I don’t know, frankly. I wasn’t in the legislature when those laws were passed. Should other groups/ caucuses be allowed to act just as those four caucuses are? I think that’s a very worthy question. If caucuses clear some (yet-to-be-defined) threshold, should they then be allowed to fundraise and campaign in coordination with candidates? I can certainly see strong arguments for that.  

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I’ve never heard the leaders of the Sportsmen’s Caucus, the Family Caucus, the Freshman Caucus, the Military Caucus – or any other caucus – ask for what these gadflies are now demanding from a federal judge, but perhaps they should have that ability, perhaps not. I’m genuinely open to a discussion of new legislation on this front … even if it is only a small group of Radicals asking to change things for themselves.

However, instead of going about the legislative process to address this in state law (or even filing a bill!), the local franchisees of the national Freedom Caucus Network gave up on trying to do their job. They won’t or can’t legislate, so they chose to litigate. Think about that irony: The self-proclaimed constitutionalists have run away from the people’s chamber in search of an activist judge who will re-write our laws.

And, as is their custom, they have employed their professional P.R. people to sell this story to the public. Their marketing campaign relies on career political operatives like FITSNews’ author Mark Powell (who proudly touts his job at Freedom Caucuser Rep. R.J. May III’s Ivory Tusk Consulting on his Twitter bio) spin a tale of David taking on Goliath. The yarn here, of course, is being sold as a virtuous fight for constitutional rights. And, rather than asking questions, this website extends its brand name to the regurgitation of those disingenuous talking points. For shame. 

The shame belongs on this website for helping to pull the wool over the eyes of South Carolinians. So, I urge readers to remember that this “news outlet” isn’t interested in helping them sort the wheat from the chaff. This website is more TMZ, less Wall Street Journal.

(Click to View)

The South Carolina Statehouse (Travis Bell/STATEHOUSE CAROLINA)

Because this isn’t David versus Goliath — this is Don Quixote tilting at windmills and telling townspeople that he’s out there slaying dragons. The guys and gals of the Freedom Caucus abdicated their responsibilities to even try to craft a legislative solution. They saw a publicity stunt in the making and went all-in to sue their fellow Republicans. Unfortunately, this website – to its great discredit – has played a role in covering-up their dereliction of duty.

They’ll fall over themselves to tell you about how they actually sued democrats, too! And that they sued the Ethics Committee because they had to! But watch how they dodge questions about why they didn’t even file a bill on this. They had the time to file bills to nullify federal law and require the state to use gold as a currency, but not to address this? Of course they did. They obviously had time to draft and file a lawsuit in federal court.

So when their crocodile tears start flowing and they pivot to cast the blame on the big ole, meanie RINO-establishment, or whatever, don’t forget that they didn’t even try to solve this the way our Founding Fathers intended. Their excuse-ism is all about distracting you from their real goal: To make it easier for them to funnel out-of-state money into their campaigns. Their puppet masters want it to be even easier to infect our state with D.C.-style politics.

Caveat emptor, folks.

The Freedom Caucus isn’t wrong about everything.  In fact, I find that I generally agree with their ideas (even if they’re all poached from other places). Individually, I actually like most of the people in that group. But, collectively, I see its petulant approach as corrosive to the goal of actually enacting conservative legislation. My beef with them is that their tactics are unserious and myopic. And this episode is yet another example of it. Republicans deserve better. South Carolina deserves better.

Simply put, Republicans shouldn’t be asking federal judges to legislate from the bench. Nobody committed to the conservative project should celebrate those who do.

Lastly, I extend my appreciation to Will Folks' invitation to use this website’s “open mic policy” to highlight the absurdity of my colleagues’ latest charade. These days I’m increasingly disheartened and frustrated by conservatives willing to abandon any commitment to rigorous analysis of ideas. Too many people are happy to extend a pass to anything that’s wrapped-up in anti-establishment rhetoric. It’s way past time for people to call out dumbassery for what it is.

Dum spiro spero.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR ...

(Travis Bell/ STATEHOUSE CAROLINA)

Micah Caskey represents S.C. House District 89 in the Palmetto State's General Assembly.

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6 comments

jbl1a March 6, 2023 at 9:10 pm

As usual all BS from another liberal lawyer/legislator.

Reply
Pauly G March 7, 2023 at 6:44 am

Never run to the federales if you claim to espouse “Liberty,” especially the judicial branch.

Reply
David B. Reynolds March 7, 2023 at 9:53 am

Another blast from the ‘almost democratic’ house…..spewing the party line while they, themselves…..continue to do nothing.

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Anonymous March 7, 2023 at 7:34 pm

I think someone needs to look DEEP into RJ May’s Shenanigans. It is like a cartoon show watching the interaction between him and Myscgop go on. And if we could please all quit getting the silly text messages smearing all of the fellow Republicans. Half the time from made up groups! It is pathetic. The SC Freedom Caucus is embarassing. And nothing like the House Freedom Caucus in DC. It is cringeworthy.

Reply
loretta March 8, 2023 at 12:58 pm

Voters vote Republican because they expect the purported conservative legislator they supported to vote that way. Too often, however, this is not the case – an R votes with the Left, destroying the voter’s confidence and allowing another conservative value to be defeated. The voter did his part; the legislator he supported did not.
The Freedom Caucus takes a strong conservative stand and opposes members of their party who do not.This is gutsy, and opens them up for criticism by legislators such as Micah Caskey.
As a caucus, the Freedom Caucus could raise its own money, hire a staff, etc., as the other four caucuses do, and get its message out.
It is clear that the majority of SC voters oppose Trans women in Women’s sports, the lack of action taken regarding Ohio’s rail disaster and toxic chemical spill, lawlessness throughout cities, censored speech, etc. Litigation can not be reserved for Micah Caskey’s approval, and, regarding his criticism of FITSNews, if Caskey needs a ‘news outlet’ to criticize for its one-sided coverage, he has only to look at main stream media.

Reply
jbl1a March 9, 2023 at 11:40 am

Caskey is the “new” republican party in SC and he is the epitome of what is wrong in the SC statehouse…..

Reply

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