For the second time in a month, the white supremacist Council of Conservative Citizens’ (CCC) entanglement with elements of the South Carolina GOP has come to light in a deeply embarrassing moment for the Republican Party.
In a video recorded during the annual CCC national conference held June 7-8 in Winston-Salem, N.C., CCC webmaster Kyle Rogers boasted (around 2:45 minutes into the video) that he was a member of the Dorchester County GOP’s Executive Committee. A call to Executive Committee Chairman Jordan Bryngelson confirmed Rogers’ membership. “Yes,” Bryngelson told Hatewatch, “embarrassingly, Rogers is a member of the Executive Committee.” Bryngelson asked Rogers to resign, but according to the party’s bylaws, there is no way to force Rogers out unless he breaks certain party rules.
The request to Rogers to resign followed by a month the resignation of Roan Garcia-Quintana from S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley’s 2014 re-election campaign steering committee (of which Bryngelson is also a member). Garcia-Quintana quit the committee after Hatewatch revealed that he was a former board director and lifetime member of the CCC, a racist group directly descended from the old White Citizens Councils that angrily battled school desegregation in the 1950s and 1960s.
Bryngelson said he had looked up Rogers’ history and contacted him about it. Rogers replied that he was being “unfairly judged,” according to Bryngelson, who added that he returned Rogers’ $25 membership fee and asked him to resign. He said that Rogers had not attended any committee meetings since the party elected new leaders, including Rogers, in April. Bryngelson called the election “unfortunate” but said it was hard to vet all candidates. Still, he added, “I need to get in front of this. … If the GOP wants the minority vote, it has to weed out these types of people.”
The Republican Party has rejected the CCC explicitly since 1999, when Republican Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott was accused of being a member of the group that has described black people as a “retrograde species of humanity.” That year, the Republican National Committee chair, Jim Nicholson, called on GOP members and officials to shun the CCC as a racist group. “A member of the party of Lincoln should not belong to such an organization,” Nicholson said at the time. Although some Republicans continued to interact with the group, that ended within a few years as politicians who did so increasingly were exposed by journalists.
This is not the first time Rogers has infiltrated the Republican Party. Last June, as reported by the Charleston, S.C., Post and Courier, Rogers said in an online autobiography that he served as a delegate at the Charleston County Republican convention in 2007. That county’s GOP Chair, Lin Bennett, said she “couldn’t recall much about him.” But state NAACP President Lonnie Randolph said that he had heard of Rogers, but had never encountered him at any function or protest. “We don’t run in the same circles,” Randolph told the newspaper. “I like to keep my sheets on the bed.”
At the April 13 convention where Rogers was elected, the Dorchester County committee passed what Rogers later happily described as “seven really radical resolutions, each one almost unanimously passed.” “The most radical one,” he added, “was to ‘Nullify all federal gun laws, arrest all federal agents who try to enforce federal gun laws in South Carolina, and re-arm the state militia to protect the rights of South Carolina Citizens against the Federal Government.’”
Bryngelson, however, saw the matter differently. He said the convention ran longer than expected and many people left before certain votes were taken. As a result, he said, resolutions were passed that he hopes to have rescinded as soon as possible.