The executive committee of the Craven County Republican Party has voted to issue a letter of censure against state House Speaker Thom Tillis. (Read it in its entirety HERE.)
I asked a veteran NCGOP activist and current member of the state GOP executive committee for his two cents on the matter, and here is what he offered up:
This is probably the most serious, the most severe, punitive action a county party organization can take against a party member. This is not something done — or taken — lightly.
Neither this source, nor any of the other GOPers I spoke with, could recall something like this happening previously. The closest thing was the state executive committee’s decision to kick Richard Morgan out of the party circa 2004.
What’s got these folks in Craven County so steamed? They tell us in their letter to NCGOP chairman Robin Hayes:
- The Speaker interfered in at least three 2012 Republican Primaries in eastern North Carolina.
In North Carolina House District 6, Speaker Tillis gave support to a former Democrat turned New Republican candidate. Mr. Tillis also supported a former Democrat in the Republican Primary in North Carolina Senate District 2. Finally, Mr. Tillis manipulated the Senate District 1 race by encouraging a then current House member to run for Senate but ultimately supported the House member’s Democrat-turned-Republican opponent. Unfortunately, Speaker Tillis has stated he will be involved in future Primaries.
- Speaker Tillis weakened many of the provisions in the Voter I.D. bill.
- The Speaker has taken liberal positions on legislation including Interstate Toll HOT Lanes, Ferry Tolls, and the protection of Telecommunication monopolies at the expense of smaller “free market” competitors. These positions are contrary to the economic liberties championed by the Republican Party.
- The Speaker supports HB 983 (Game Fish Bill). This Bill will threaten the tradition of commercial fishing, cause wasteful “bycatch” as fisherman are forced to dispose of these new Game Fish, and harm the associated seafood industry. One of the ironies of this Bill is that we will initially use taxpayer money to subsidize commercial fishermen forced out of business by this Bill. Our state’s Republican Party platform reflects a position of less Government regulation on private businesses, and this Bill is contrary to that philosophy.
I also spoke with a veteran activist with the Craven County GOP — who asked not to be named in this post:
This letter ended up using a lot more diplomatic language than I would have. But it still serves its purpose and makes its point. The folks out here, outside the Raleigh beltline, who love this state, work hard every day to make it a great place, and who fought hard to put Republicans in control of things in Raleigh are sick and tired of what Thom Tillis has been saying and doing.
The Craven activist said other county parties have been in contact with censure supporters about possibly replicating the Craven effort. My source tells me that Thom Tillis — and the concept of censure — will be a hot topic of discussion at this weekend’s Third Congressional District GOP meeting in New Bern.
Dare County’s GOP looks like a good bet to be the next to move against Tillis. We obtained an email from Dare GOP chairman Browny Douglas to NCGOP chairman Robin Hayes that did not mince a single word:
Chairman Hayes, I, in the capacity of Dare County Republican Chairman, am SERIOUSLY considering bringing party disloyalty charges against speaker Tillis due to his remarks about his fellow Republicans being politically expendable with reference to HB 983. As you know or should know there are other like and similar remarks he has made. Ex “tuff if some of our coastal legislators get burned” over the ferry toll issue. He cares about himself ONLY. Visions of Hagen’s seat. Anyone with reasonable intelligence can see that the CCA, GAME FISHERMEN, have him bought off so as to satisfy their selfish wants to control NC public resources for themselves. The CCA’s endless amt of BIG oil $$$$ is more than he can turn down. He has a me me me syndrome and to hell with the NC Republican Party. I assure you I do not stand alone with these thoughts. Somebody needs to reign him in before NC becomes blue again, IN GREAT PART BECAUSE OF HIM.
We obtained a second email from Douglas, to some associates, offering further detail about his concerns regarding Tillis:
At the root of my concern is that HB 983 is ALL about allocation and NOT economics as professed by the CCA. It is about appeasing the pleasure of the GAME fishermen. More broadly it is about corporate control on a national level of N C’s public trust resources; resources that are yours and mine. The CCA is a well funded special interest group spawned in 1977 by Walter Fondren and was originally solely funded by his BIG OIL [Exxon] money. Needless to say other corporate money has enjoined the selfish agenda of CONTROL FOREVER by the game fishermen. The seafood consuming public is expected to settle for less than fresh, limited items, and imports —- again FOREVER! A GAME fish bill is but the camels nose. A total net ban is the ultimate objective. The history of the CCA’s march through time and throughout southeastern and gulf coast states reflects this.
Speaker Tillis has GOT TO BE aware of this. However it appears that the stress of politics clouds his better judgment as it is glaringly evident that he supports HB 983 and is fully reconciled to its passage. SOMETIMES GOOD PEOPLE DO BAD THINGS. I and many other members of the GOP since the origination of HB 353, and now HB 983, have been concerned about the image that such a “TAKING” will have on the well being of the Republican Party here in N C. Those of us concerned contend that it may well be a HUGE NEGATIVE and, more pointedly, the possible loss of elected positions for the conservative party. Sadly it appears that conservative principles are being sacrificed for political gain. To be sure the good Senator Don East must be rolling over in his grave.
A fairly and deservedly informed GOP would not be properly fulfilled without this revelation: On April 24th of this year during a state wide teleconference call open to all N C GOP county chairmen, Speaker Tillis responded to me with a most alarming stance revealing what I and other listeners perceived to be his lack of concern for the well being of N C’s Republican Party. During this call, I commented to him that I and others throughout the State have serious concerns that passage of HB 983 might cause the loss of republican elected positions. While NOT verbatim, BUT WITHOUT A CHANCE of his response being misunderstood, he said that ‘politically the Republicans can afford to lose a couple of seats and still maintain majority control’ . That response was and is an insulting slap in the face to the Republican Party and its voters in general. I cannot imagine that it will not serve as the same to any and all sitting members of the NC General Assembly, and ESPECIALLY, in this particular instance, to coastal legislators. I feel duty bound and compelled to have revealed this matter in defense of the GOP as well as the working fishing communities of coastal N C.
If the teleconference call of April 24 was recorded, the recording will reflect this revelation unless it has for some reason suffered alteration. If that is the case, I and others stand ready to swear on a bible to the correctness of this written testimony. Regarding party disloyalty, I will leave that to individual discretion.