On Tuesday, January 10, members of the SC Freedom Caucus including myself were physically barred from entering the room where the House Republican Caucus was scheduled to meet. Because I won't be silenced, they have now said that I and the others who would not sign their loyalty pledge are not welcome in their club.
For several months, leaders of the House Republican Caucus have been trying to require legislators to pledge not to “campaign” against each other. They have demanded that we must “comply” and sign on the dotted line.
I take great exception to such a requirement. First, I went to Columbia to represent my district and try to bring about government reform, not to be part of an incumbent protection racket. Second, my constitutional right to free speech didn’t end with my election to office. Third, though the Freedom Caucus has made multiple proposals in good faith, House Republican leadership has refused to define "campaigning" in the rules, so I have no idea what I would be agreeing to. In fact, discussions surrounding the introduction of this rule centered around the view that my posting pictures of the voting board in the House is akin to “misinformation” that is threatening other members’ reelection and I was told publicly I needed to “search my heart” for why I was really doing so.
Though Republican Caucus leaders have officially denied that voting board pictures have anything to do with it, private conversations continue to confirm that moderate legislators “don’t trust” anyone who posts these pictures because clearly I’m trying to “hurt” members. What it sounds like to me is the establishment doesn't want me telling you what is going on at your State House. They are afraid of me because they are afraid of transparency.
What is ironic is that a big reason many establishment legislators are giving for why they want conservative legislators to sign a pledge - that we need to agree to confidentiality and not air dirty laundry between Republicans - is a problem not in our ranks but in theirs. On January 10, when the Freedom Caucus was forcibly turned away at the door, the New York Times reported on what happened in the Republican Caucus meeting and complimented establishment leadership for “pushing back against the hard right.” The New York Times cited as their source someone who was “in the room.” Since the Freedom Caucus was specifically not in the room, the person who gave the story to the liberal media must have been someone who had signed the pledge! Yet the establishment continues to accuse me and others of that which they themselves are guilty.
This past Thursday, January 19, Majority Leader Davey Hiott announced that any legislators who had not yet signed the pledge were no longer members of the House Republican Caucus. He did not have the authority under the rules to make that determination. Nonetheless, the Freedom Caucus decided to operate as if he did. We have tried hard to negotiate, but if they want us kicked out of the Republican Caucus, then so be it.
The flipside of being out of the Republican Caucus means we are no longer bound by confidentiality. Thus, I am now publicly addressing what has happened over the past few weeks so that you have all the information. You can hear more from my conversation on Friday with Charlie James on 106.3FM.
I look forward to continuing to fight for truth and clarity at the State House. I count it an honor to be rejected by the Columbia swamp. I think it means I’m doing the job you sent me there to do! If you agree, please consider making a contribution, because I’m sure the long knives will be coming out and I’ll absolutely need it.
I will continue to do my best to represent the people, not the special interests, and not political clubs that exist to defend legislators with the label “Republican” regardless of their principles. I will never agree to protect swampy politicians at your expense. My pledge of allegiance is to the American Flag and my oath is to the Constitution.
I will continue to advocate for the Republican Party platform regardless of where my opposition may come from. Thank you again for giving me that opportunity!