Katon’s Kountry Klub Problem Rises Again

Remember Katon Dawson? He made headlines in 2008 for resigning his membership in a whites-only country club shortly before launching an unsuccessful bid for Republican National Committee chair.

Dawson’s supporters included Glenn McCall, a black RNC committeeman who offered effusive praise for Dawson’s decision to cancel his membership:

I see what Katon did as evidence of his commitment to including and involving people from all walks of life and all races. Katon took a stand for what was right. He stood up in front of his friends at the club and told them what they were doing was wrong, and when they refused to change, he decided to leave.

Just one problem: Katon Dawson never gave up his membership at the exclusive Forest Lake Country Club.  His very public resignation was a sham, quietly dispensed with after losing the RNC chairmanship to Michael Steele.

Accordingly, Dawson never technically “rejoined” the club in 2009, as he has been privately telling supporters.

Sources familiar with the club’s financial records tell FITS that Dawson actually paid his membership dues at the Forest Lake Country Club in Columbia, S.C. throughout the RNC campaign – and as a result was never removed from the club’s membership rolls.

“He paid in advance for the duration of his leave,” one of the sources told FITS.  “He has never not been a member of Forest Lake.”

Another source said Dawson paid five months worth of dues in advance.

This news comes as no surprise to critics who questioned the politically expedient timing of his faux resignation.  After all, in the twenty-first century, racially exclusive clubs are a no-no even when you’re not campaigning.

Dawson heads to Hawaii later this month to attend the RNC meeting.  Last week he told CNN he would serve as South Carolina GOP chairwoman Karen Floyd’s proxy at the meeting, but a South Carolina GOP spokesperson denies that was ever the plan.

Dawson says he’s “not ready to comment” on why he won’t be attending the meeting in an official capacity.  Oh, Katon, Katon, Katon, I think we all know why.

Michael Steele Accepts RNC Chairmanship

Today is a good day to be a Republican.

Former Maryland Lieutenant Governor Michael Steele has been selected as the next chairman of the Republican National Committee. After six ballots, Steele won the election with 91 votes, beating out incumbent Mike Duncan, Ken Blackwell, Katon “All White Country Club” Dawson, and Saul “Gay Baiter” Anuzis.

Steele is an inclusive, big tent Republican who has what it takes to lead the Party with integrity and focus. He brings the enthusiasm, experience, and personality necessary to unify and strengthen the Republican Party.

Congratulations to Chairman Michael Steele and kudos to the RNC members who elected a fine man and the right candidate for the job.

Will Republicans Get An Inclusive RNC Chair?

At the height of Palinmania, liberal feminist author Rebecca Walker wrote a piece for The Huffington Post boldly calling for a bigger feminist tent. She criticized the “habitual distancing of women [like Sarah Palin] who don’t serve the progressive feminist agenda” and addressed “the necessity of finding commonality with women who don’t hold progressive views.”

You can imagine how well that went over with the “progressive” HuffPo crowd.

Many commenters dismissed Walker’s ideas. They reveled childishly in the opportunity to smear Palin with the usual chorus of “she’s not a real woman” and “she doesn’t get to call herself a feminist.” Also included, a generous sprinkling of “she’s a terrible mother,” “conservative women are tools of the patriarchy,” and the ever popular insult, “Bush in a skirt.”

I’m reminded of the venomous responses to Walker’s HuffPo post as I consider the current state of the RNC Chair race. Many of the 168 voting Committee members are clamoring for a uniformly conservative Party that brands social moderates, libertarians, and centrists as ideologically impure. Even those who pay lip service to Ronald Reagan’s notion of a big GOP tent seem comfortable marginalizing Republicans whose conservative bona fides don’t measure up to their questionable standards.

Minnesota GOP Chairman Saul Anuzis donned his RINO-huntin’ gear early in the race for national Chair and set his sights on Michael Steele, the former Lieutenant Governor of Maryland. James Richardson explains:

Shortly after launching his campaign for RNC Chairman in mid-November, Saul Anuzis, the beleaguered MIGOP Chairman, began circulating news of LGBT (read: moderate) support for former Maryland Lt. Governor Michael Steele to prominent social conservative committee members.

Steele’s past work with Christine Todd Whitman’s centrist Republican Leadership Council, his dissenters argue, disqualifies him to lead the Republican Party as the faithful opposition to President Obama’s social agenda and economic recovery plan.

Later, when the Log Cabin Republicans reached out to each of the RNC candidates, an Anuzis operative named Katie Packer responded on his behalf, calling him “a reasonable individual who does not seek to grow the party by dividing it.”

Right. So first Anuzis uses gay support as a not-so-subtle litmus test to indicate an opponent’s failings, and then his rep cozies up to the Log Cabin Republicans. But wait, there’s more:

After news of Team Anuzis’ correspondence broke, Saul quickly distanced himself from Packer and said he had approved no such outreach, nor did he seek Log Cabin’s endorsement. Still working to build inroads in the social conservative community, Saul simply couldn’t afford the perception that he was seeking to “grow the party” with the help of, gasp, gay and moderate Republicans.

I understand that many Americans, President Obama included, do not support full equality for gays and lesbians, but is it really required political posturing for an RNC Chair candidate to publicly distance himself from gay outreach? Is Anuzis worried his RNC buddies will think he picked up GRIDS cooties from contact with the gays?

Last November, Senator McCain won more of the gay vote than any other Republican presidential candidate has ever received – 1.3 million votes and 27% of the LGBT vote, according to exit polls. Let’s hope we can continue that trend with an RNC Chair who understands and believes in a big Republican tent, not one who makes nice to gay Republicans and moderates in private while publicly rejecting their support and excluding them from Party politics.

Time for the GOP to Disown Chip Saltsman

Hey, you know what Republicans need? More racially charged baggage weighing them down while the liberal establishment works feverishly to paint the GOP as a band of increasingly irrelevant dinosaurs clinging to their irrational hatred and bigotry with every ounce of their rapidly waning strength.

Enter Chip Saltsman.

Chip Saltsman is the former campaign manager for Mike Huckabee, and is currently in the running for national RNC Chair. I missed this story while diligently maintaining my holiday sugar high, but James Richardson was around to summarize why Saltsman is an utterly embarrassing drag on the GOP:

In an exercise of political suicide, Republican National Committee Chair hopeful Chip Saltsman distributed a controversial CD by conservative satirist Paul Shanklin to national committee members this month for Christmas.

First played on Rush Limbaugh’s popular, though often taboo, radio show, the 41-track CD, entitled “We Hate the USA,” featured the racially-charged song “Barack the Magic Negro.” After all, nothing says “Christmas” like racial insensitivity…

Defending the ill-conceived Christmas goodie bag as a good humored joke, Saltsman told The Hill: “Paul Shanklin is a long-time friend, and I think that RNC members have the good humor and good sense to recognize that his songs for the Rush Limbaugh show are light-hearted political parodies.”

HA HA, get it, “negro” is a funny word.

Much like his fellow candidate for RNC Chair Katon Dawson, Chip Saltsman assumes his history of social and political relationships with minorities absolves him of all past, present, and future charges of racism. He expects that calling the songs on the CD “light-hearted political parodies” will further insulate him from politically disruptive accusations. And when that failed, he actually tried to argue that the phrase “magic negro” was fair game for anyone (read: white conservatives) to toss about because the media let it slide when black liberal David Ehrenstein titled an article “Obama the ‘Magic Negro.'” Double standards, you know.

Chip Saltsman isn’t just feeding the liberal narrative of a racist GOP, he’s laying out an all-you-can-eat buffet spread. The liberal political machine lusts after this sort of fare with an obscene passion, and maladroits like Chip Saltsman treat the loudest voices on the left to exactly what they hunger for: more fuel for the myth that the GOP is the party of intolerance and bigotry.

At best, Chip Saltsman’s Christmas gift to the members of the RNC was racially insensitive, politically clumsy, and just all around ill-advised. Whatever his intentions, Saltsman’s appallingly immature decision to distribute the CD speaks far louder than his graceless defense of his blunder. He is a political strategist, not a radio blowhard who uses terms like “Negro” to shock his audience into listening for another hour.

Saltsman demonstrated an atrocious error in judgment and a profound failure to anticipate the consequences of his actions.  Fortunately this time, one of those consequences was the fizzling of his campaign for RNC chair.

Katon Dawson and Saul Anuzis To Be Vetted for RNC Chairman Post by … Katon Dawson and Saul Anuzis

You know what the race for Republican National Committee national chairman could use this year? A couple of candidates who embrace conflicts of interest with relish. Done and done:

In a highly unusual move, 37 self-identified conservatives on the 168-member Republican National Committee have formed a group to vet candidates for the $200,300-a-year, elected post of Republican national chairman, The Washington Times has learned.

An e-mail in which the group dubbed itself the RNC Conservative Steering Committee defines its goal as to ensure the election of a reliably conservative national leader. The group of vetters, however, itself includes several of the candidates for national chairman.

Michigan Republican Party chairman Saul Anuzis and South Carolina GOP chairman Katon Dawson have both declared candidacy for the position of RNC national chairman and are reportedly members of this new Conservative Steering Committee. If Dawson and Anuzis need to have the obvious conflict of interest spelled out for them, they’re clearly not qualified to provide leadership for a party that already suffers from a tarnished public image. But of course, we already knew that about Katon Dawson.

Katon Dawson Makes a Mockery of Republican Ideas

The Republican Party is precariously close to fracturing. Not because GOP candidates abandoned conservatism. Not because they caved to the “oogedy-boogedy branch” of the Party. And not because the Party leadership lacks youth and sex appeal.

Those points may be worth debating (or deriding), but they’re not why the Party is on the verge of splintering. That honor is reserved for our dear Party leadership, the members of the Republican National Committee.

The RNC is preparing to elect a new Chairman in January, and among the candidates under consideration is Katon Dawson, the Chairman of the South Carolina GOP. Dawson occupied his spare time during the last 12 years or so brushing elbows with the Midlands elite at an exclusive private country club. What’s the big deal? Forest Lake Club is so exclusive that only white people are admitted as members.

The Republican Party has been a monumental force for civil rights in the United States for more than 150 years. Initially created to oppose the atrocious pro-slavery policies of the Democrats, the GOP remained committed to protecting individual liberty and has a proud history of civil rights achievements, including the Thirteenth, Fourteenth, and Fifteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution. Throughout the twentieth century, Republicans stood for freedom and equality, and were instrumental in crafting and passing pieces of legislation that ended segregation and invalidated Jim Crow laws.

That is the Republican Party I embrace, a Party dedicated from its inception to the principles of freedom, liberty, and individual responsibility. It is gobsmackingly vile that this same Party is now seriously considering elevating a morally weak man like Katon Dawson to national Chair.

Republicans rightfully expressed outrage when news surfaced that United States Senate candidate Ned Lamont belonged to an overwhelmingly white country club. The liberal netroots and Democrat establishment were excoriated by Republicans for continuing to support Lamont, yet somehow Katon Dawson has escaped the indignation of Republicans.

Katon Dawson’s leadership accomplishments and civic achievements are now irrelevant. He made a decision 12 years ago that his political aspirations would be best served by hobnobbing with prominent white South Carolinians. He eschewed Republican principles and happily palled around with his white country club buddies, implicitly giving his blessing to one of the final refuges of segregation in America. At best, Dawson chose to turn a blind eye to his club’s admission practices, at least until he thought it might derail his run for RNC Chairman.

Once his dirty little secret was revealed in an article about Forest Lake’s heinous membership policy, Dawson suddenly had plenty to say in an open letter to the club’s Management Committee written shortly before he resigned his membership. Let me nutshell it for you:

I spend tons of time on outreach to black folks. In fact, I’m so busy reaching out to blacks that I barely get to spend time at my all-white club. But after that pesky newspaper exposé, I am overcome with a need to encourage greater diversity in my no-blacks-allowed club. Please consider changing your membership policy as my career may depend on it.

Way too little and a dozen years too late. Katon Dawson’s 12 year membership at Forest Lake Club tells me everything I need to know about his character and integrity. As Dawson wrote last week in a Politico editorial about, I kid you not, the courage of convictions, “It’s not good enough to talk the talk; you’ve got to walk the walk.” Pot, I trust you and kettle need no introductions.

Could Katon Dawson possibly be so blind to his own hypocrisy, or is he off high fiving his country club cohorts, privately congratulating himself on his stunning ability to travel under the radar for so many years? It boggles the mind that his abhorrent association with Forest Lake Club reached the pages of The State in August, yet here we are in December with Dawson still at the helm of the South Carolina GOP, vying for a position of national prominence.

Any vote for Katon Dawson to take the RNC reins will be taken as an endorsement of the dozen years he spent as a member of Forest Lake. If Dawson ascends to the GOP Chairmanship, it will be a giant middle finger thrust in the faces of every American who shudders at the memory of institutionalized racism in our country.

Get ready for the Grand Old Party to suffer an irreparable fracture. Republicans who treasure our Party’s core values will defect to other parties and dilute the strength of the GOP. If we’re lucky, the Party will split in two; in a more realistic scenario, the GOP will splinter into a half dozen or more factions unwilling to associate with a leader who allowed discrimination to simmer under his nose. The Democrats will be handed the country on a silver platter, achieving the inverse of Karl Rove’s “permanent Republican majority.”

But the demise of the Republican Party can be averted by electing a Chairman like Michael Steele whose actions match his words, and whose words convey core Party values. Last weekend Governor Mark Sanford of South Carolina proposed a set of principles central to rebuilding the Republican Party. He reminded Republicans that “our loyalties need to be to ideas, not to individuals.” The 168 members of the Republican National Committee cannot forget that when they cast their votes for RNC Chair in January.

In 1870, South Carolina sent Republican Joseph Rainey to Congress as the first black member of the House of Representatives. Were he with us today, Joseph Rainey would not be welcome to schmooze with Katon Dawson and his comrades at Forest Lake Club. Katon Dawson is a blight on the GOP. The only noble path available to Dawson is to immediately withdraw his candidacy and step down as the South Carolina GOP Chair. If he fails to choose the noble path, he must be ousted by Republicans who can talk the talk and walk the walk.