Dozens of Politicians Attend Council of Conservative Citizens Events

Since then-U.S. Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott got into political hot water in 1998 over his cozy relationship with the Council of Conservative Citizens (CCC), national politicians have generally avoided the white supremacist group like the plague.

The Conservative Political Action Committee called the group racist that same year and barred it from its meetings. The Republican National Committee "forcefully" condemned the CCC in 1999, urging Republicans not to join or attend its functions.

Since then, the group has become even more extremist, writing that blacks are "a retrograde species of humanity," attacking "Jewish power brokers," publishing anti-Semites like Edgar J. Steele, and comparing pop singer Michael Jackson to an ape. But none of this has stopped politicians in four Southern states, especially Republicans in the CCC power base of Mississippi, from attending and speaking at local CCC functions.

What follows is a list of office-holding politicians who have appeared at CCC events since 2000 and their responses to requests for comment. Not included are dozens of mayors, county sheriffs and other lower-level officials. Also not included are politicians who no longer hold office or failed to win election.

The list was derived from reports in the CCC's tabloid Citizens Informer, and most of the politicians who responded to requests for comment confirmed those reports. Thirteen of the 26 officials on this list refused to comment despite messages that were left, in each case, at home, work, political office and via E-mail.


MISSISSIPPI

Roger Wicker
Congressman, U.S. House District 1 (Tupelo)

Haley Barbour
Governor

Kay Cobb
Presiding justice, Mississippi Supreme Court

Robert "Bunky" Huggins
Senator, State Senate District 14 (Greenwood)

Gary Jackson
Senator, State Senate District 15 (French Camp)

Dean Kirby
Senator, State Senate District 30 (Pearl)

Richard White
Senator, State Senate District 29 (Terry)

Jim Beckett
Representative, State House District 23 (Bruce)

Gary Alan Chism
Representative, State House District 40 (Columbus)

Bill Denny Jr.
State House District 64 (Jackson)

James Ellington
Representative, State House District 73 (Raymond)

Joey Fillingane
Representative, State House District 101 (Sumrall)

Mark Formby
Representative, State House District 108 (Picayune)

Herb Frierson
Representative, State House District 106 (Poplarville)

Jack Gadd
Representative, State House District 13 (Hickory Flat)

Bobby B. Howell
Representative, State House District 46 (Kilmichael)

Wanda Jennings
Representative, State House District 7 (Southaven)

John Moore
Representative, State House District 60 (Brandon)

Dannie Reed
Representative, State House District 35 (Ackerman)

Ray Rogers
Representative, State House District 61 (Pearl)

Eric Robinson
Representative, State House District 84 (Quitman)

Clayton Smith
Representative, State House District 59 (Brandon)

Tommy Woods
Representative, State House District 52 (Byhalia)


LOUISIANA

Mike McDonald
Judge, 1st Circuit State Court of Appeals (Baton Rouge)


SOUTH CAROLINA

Grady Patterson
State treasurer


TENNESSEE

Bob McKee
Representative, State House District 23 (Athens)




MISSISSIPPI

Roger Wicker (R)
Congressman, U.S. House District 1 (Tupelo)

Term ends: 2004

CCC links: Spoke to a combined Sept. 23, 2000, meeting of the West Tennessee and Marshall County CCC chapters in Byhalia, Miss. The meeting was also attended by the CCC's top national leaders, CEO Gordon Baum and President Tom Dover.

Comment: Refused.


Haley Barbour (R)
Governor

Term ends: 2008

CCC links: As a gubernatorial candidate, attended the July 19, 2003, Black Hawk Barbecue in Carroll County, sponsored by the CCC to raise money for private academy school buses, where he was photographed with CCC Field Director Bill Lord. A Barbour campaign official, Shannon Warnock, spoke to the Greater Jackson and Southern Magnolia CCC in Pearl on July 24, 2003.

Comment: Barbour spokeswoman Kathryn Stewart said Barbour "opposes any racist views." Warnock said Barbour discouraged her but did not forbid her to speak to the CCC. Barbour later appointed Warnock to the state Pardons and Parole Board.


Kay Cobb (nonpartisan)
Presiding justice, Mississippi Supreme Court

Term ends: 2008

CCC links: As a candidate for the post she'd been appointed to a year earlier, introduced speaker Virginia Abernethy (see related story, p. 5), a member of the CCC editorial advisory board, at a Sept. 23, 2000, Marshall County CCC event also attended by the CCC's top national leaders, CEO Gordon Baum and President Tom Dover; spoke to the Webster County CCC in Mathiston on Sept. 25, 2000.

Comment: Cobb said she spoke at the invitation of friends of her family to what she saw as a group of "ultra-conservative, mostly older, white, rural citizens."


Robert "Bunky" Huggins (R)
Senator, State Senate District 14 (Greenwood)

Term ends: 2008

CCC links: Spoke to the Carroll County CCC on Nov. 16, 2000; was photographed with CCC Field Director Bill Lord at the Black Hawk Barbecue in Carroll County, sponsored by the CCC to raise money for private academy school buses, on July 19, 2003.

Comment: Refused.


Gary Jackson (R)
Senator, State Senate District 15 (French Camp)

Term ends: 2008

CCC links: Spoke to the Webster County CCC on March 24, 2003; spoke to the same group in Mathiston on Aug. 25, 2003.

Comment: Refused.


Dean Kirby (R)
Senator, State Senate District 30 (Pearl) Term ends: 2008

CCC links: Spoke about the controversy over the Mississippi state flag at an April 24, 2003, meeting of the Greater Jackson and Southern Magnolia CCC in Jackson; spoke at the May 17, 2003, "Southern Heritage Celebration and Political Rally" sponsored by the Greater Jackson and Southern Magnolia CCC.

Comment: Refused.


Richard White (R)
Senator, State Senate District 29 (Terry)

Term ends: 2008

CCC links: Spoke at an April 2001 "victory meeting" of the Southern Magnolia CCC after voters in a statewide referendum chose to keep a version of the state flag incorporating Confederate symbols.

Comment: Refused.


Jim Beckett (R)
Representative, State House District 23 (Bruce)

Term ends: 2008

CCC links: As a candidate, spoke to the Webster County CCC in Mathiston on June 23, 2003.

Comment: Beckett confirmed making a speech to the group, but said he was "not involved" with the CCC.


Gary Alan Chism (R)
Representative, State House District 40 (Columbus) Term ends: 2008

CCC links: Spoke to the Webster County CCC in Mathiston about Confederate symbols and the Mississippi state flag on April 23, 2001; spoke about legislative developments to the same group on Aug. 26, 2002; participated in a June 20, 2003, "Southern Heritage Defense" panel at the CCC national conference in Olive Branch.

Comment: Chism said that despite repeated appearances before the group, he had not read its materials. He said he believed that it worked to "preserve some of the symbols" of the Old South.


Bill Denny Jr. (R)
Representative, State House District 64 (Jackson) Term ends: 2008

CCC links: Spoke to the Great Southern CCC in Jackson on Feb. 26, 2004.

Comment: Denny said he had never heard of the CCC, and thought it was "a business group," albeit one flush with "what I consider hard-hat people."


James Ellington (R)
Representative, State House District 73 (Raymond)

Term ends: 2008

CCC links: Spoke to the Great Southern CCC in Jackson on Feb. 26, 2004.

Comment: Ellington said he did not "know a thing about" the CCC, but added, "They seem like normal people to me."


Joey Fillingane (R)
Representative, State House District 101 (Sumrall)

Term ends: 2008

CCC links: Attended a July 31, 2000, "Save Our Heritage Rally" sponsored by the Piney Woods CCC in Baxterville. The rally, presided over by a local pastor, also was attended by a national CCC official, Field Director Bill Lord, who signed up several new members at the event.

Comment: Fillingane said his invitation did not mention the CCC, adding that he had turned down CCC invitations before, "given who they are." He said he was invited by a local preacher to what seemed to be "a revival meeting of sorts."

 


Mark Formby (R)
Representative, State House District 108 (Picayune)

Term ends: 2008

CCC links: Attended a July 31, 2000, "Save Our Heritage Rally" sponsored by the Piney Woods CCC in Baxterville. The rally was also attended by a CCC national official, Field Director Bill Lord, who signed up several new members.

Comment: Formby, a former legislative aide to Sen. Trent Lott (R-Miss.), said he speaks "to just about anyone who invites me to come because I am not going listen to their issues, I am going to tell them about mine."


Herb Frierson (R)
Representative, State House District 106 (Poplarville)

Term ends: 2008

CCC links: Attended a July 31, 2000, "Save Our Heritage Rally" sponsored by the Piney Woods CCC in Baxterville. The rally was also attended by a CCC national official, Field Director Bill Lord, who signed up several new members.

Comment: Refused.


Jack Gadd (D)
Representative, State House District 13 (Hickory Flat)

Term ends: 2008

CCC links: Spoke on redistricting to the Marshall County CCC in Byhalia on Nov. 27, 2001; was one of several lawmakers who invited the Marshal County CCC to visit them at the Capitol on Feb. 19, 2003.

Comment: Refused.


Bobby B. Howell (R)
Representative, State House District 46 (Kilmichael)

Term ends: 2008

CCC links: Spoke to Webster County CCC in Mathiston on May 22, 2000; spoke to Webster County CCC about redistricting in July 2001; spoke to Carroll County and Leflore County CCC chapters about legislative issues in Carrollton on Feb. 21, 2003; attended Black Hawk Barbecue in Carroll County, sponsored by the CCC to raise money for private academy school buses, on July 19, 2003.

Comment: Refused.


Wanda Jennings (R)
Representative, State House District 7 (Southaven) Term ends: 2008

CCC links: Was one of several lawmakers who invited Marshall County CCC members to visit them in the Capitol, in Jackson, on Feb. 19, 2003.

Comment: "Well, I can't say I've never heard of them because I have heard of a group called CCC, but that is it. Let me add that I was not in Jackson, did not do that."


John Moore (R)
Representative, State House District 60 (Brandon) Term ends: 2008

CCC links: Spoke about the controversy over the Mississippi state flag at a July 19, 2001, meeting of the Greater Jackson and Southern Magnolia CCC in Jackson; spoke to the same group on Jan. 23, 2003, in his capacity as chairman of the Conservative Coalition of the Mississippi state legislature.

Comment: After suggesting that the Southern Poverty Law Center investigate the NAACP, Moore said he did not see the CCC as "a KKK-style organization," adding that its main interest seemed to be "Civil War-type stuff."


Dannie Reed (R)
Representative, State House District 35 (Ackerman)

Term ends: 2008

CCC links: Spoke to the Webster County CCC on April 28, 2003; spoke to the same group on Sept. 22, 2003.

Comment: Having read CCC literature, Reed said he could understand why the organization is considered a hate group. But he added that he didn't know if that literature had "much to do with their local organization."



Ray Rogers (R)
Representative, State House District 61 (Pearl)

Term ends: 2008

CCC links: Spoke to the Greater Southern CCC in Jackson in late 2003 or early 2004.

Comment: Refused.



Eric Robinson (R)
Representative, State House District 84 (Quitman)

Term ends: 2008

CCC links: Spoke as a special guest of the Jackson CCC on Feb. 21, 2002.

Comment: Refused.



Clayton Smith (R)
Representative, State House District 59 (Brandon)

Term ends: 2008

CCC links: Spoke to the Greater Jackson and Southern Magnolia CCC's April 24, 2003, meeting in Jackson.

Comment: Refused.



Tommy Woods (R)
Representative, State House District 52 (Byhalia)

Term ends: 2008

CCC links: Spoke to a Marshall County CCC meeting on June 27, 2000; helped "prepare and provide" a Sept. 23, 2000, barbecue dinner for a meeting of the Marshall County CCC that also featured the CCC's national leaders, CEO Gordon Baum and President Tom Dover; gave a plaque to the Marshall County CCC's youngest couple for their "work and service" at an April 24, 2001 meeting; was awarded a plaque at a May 22, 2001, Marshall County CCC meeting expressing appreciation for his flying of the state flag, which incorporates Confederate symbols, at his business; sang the national anthem and gave a welcome speech at the national CCC conference held in Olive Branch, Miss., on Oct. 27, 2001; greeted CCC members at the Capitol on Feb. 19, 2003; attended a Marshall County CCC Memorial Day service on May 26, 2003.

Comment: Woods described himself as unrepentant member of the CCC who had actually spoken more often to the group than its newspaper's accounts reflected. He described the CCC as a group of "very conservative, Christian people that believe in Jesus as their savior."


LOUISIANA

Mike McDonald (R)
Judge, 1st Circuit State Court of Appeals (Baton Rouge)

Term ends: 2012

CCC links: Spoke to the Louisiana CCC in Baton Rouge on Aug. 19, 2000.

Comment: Refused.


SOUTH CAROLINA

Grady Patterson (D)
State treasurer

Term ends: 2008

CCC links: Was photographed in 2003 with South Carolina CCC state chairwoman Frances Bell and her husband George Bell in Patterson's office. The CCC's Citizens Informer said the Bells "played a significant role in Patterson's re-election."

Comment: Patterson said he had never heard of the CCC, did not authorize use of the photograph, does "not approve of organizations like this," and fought in World War II "for the American ideal that all men are created equal." He also said he never discussed strategy with the Bells.


TENNESSEE

Bob McKee (R)
Representative, State House District 23 (Athens)

Term ends: 2004

CCC links: Was guest speaker at the Aug. 1, 2000, Southeast Tennessee CCC meeting in Athens; spoke to the East Central CCC in Etowah on July 27, 2001.

Comment: Refused.