The war for the heart and soul of the “Republican” supermajority in South Carolina is escalating as growing stacks of special interest cash continue to flow into a dark money group hellbent on defeating fiscally and socially conservative lawmakers.
When it comes to preserving the failed status quo in the Palmetto State, money is no object.
The so-called “Palmetto Truth Project” – which our media outlet first exposed in the spring – is continuing to target members of the S.C. Freedom Caucus, who have had the audacity to insist the GOP majority in the S.C. House of Representatives govern in a manner consistent with its stated principles and campaign promises.
The nerve, right?
The Freedom Caucus emerged as a potent political force in the aftermath of the 2022 elections – in which multiple status quo incumbents went down in defeat in GOP primaries. The results of those races prompted the S.C. House “Republican” Caucus to press the panic button and launch a full-scale assault on the right wing of the party.
Multiple members of the Freedom Caucus were expelled from the GOP earlier this year for refusing to sign a “loyalty oath” crafted to muzzle them from calling attention to the atrocious voting records of their moderate colleagues. They have since been targeted in their districts by dark money mailings.
Those wins have caused the establishment to dig in even deeper ahead of the next pivotal election cycle.
Who is behind the Palmetto Truth Project? It’s not immediately clear, but the registered agent for the entity is an attorney and Democratic politico named Alexander C. Craven of Summerville, S.C.
Who is actually pulling its strings, though? And who is funding its attacks on conservative GOP lawmakers?
This news outlet has been working its network of sources in recent weeks in the hopes of gaining some clarity on this group – which is operating at the very least with the tacit approval of top status quo “Republicans,” including speaker Murrell Smith, ways and means chairman Bruce Bannister, speaker pro tempore Tommy Pope, “majority” leader Davey Hiott and other ranking GOP leaders.
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In addition to cheering on (condoning? coordinating?) the dark money blitzkrieg against Freedom Caucus members, these legislative leaders have been flexing their institutional muscle in recent weeks behind the scenes. The goal of their latest backroom machinations? To thin the ranks of the caucus – while simultaneously depriving it of any institutional support within the chamber.
“People are being told if they affiliate with the Freedom Caucus, endorse Freedom Caucus candidates or work with Freedom Caucus members, their bills are dead,” a source familiar with the leadership offensive told me this week. “Any connection to them is fatal for their organization’s legislative priorities moving forward.”
That’s some serious hardball … and this news outlet has been able to independently confirm that several of these intimidating ultimatums came straight from the top.
“Republican” leaders are clearly trying to lay down the law ahead of the 2024 legislative session, in which the Freedom Caucus is staking them out on multiple hot button issues while at the same time calling out their ongoing fiscal profligacy. In an election year, such battle lines could be potentially problematic for left-of-center establishment GOP incumbents – especially those already facing or likely to draw Freedom Caucus opposition.
No wonder the status quo is striking back so hard …
Count on our media outlet to keep audiences up to speed on the latest developments tied to this escalating GOP civil war in South Carolina, including any information we obtain on the so-called Palmetto “Truth” Project and its donors.
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 (soon to be eight) children.
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