The Republican Party in South Carolina has definitely tolerated mergers and multis of late.
Take Jeff Mattox, for example. A co-chair of the Kershaw County GOP, Mattox is also a self-described Libertarian and an organizer with the Kershaw County Patriots, a Tea Party group.
But his latest meandering drew the last straw from the SCGOP. And it was just a facebook faux pas that made Mattox so much a menace that he was forced out of his party position.
On the Kershaw County Patriots’ facebook page, an article titled “When Should You Shoot a Cop” was posted on July 15. Mattox quickly “liked” the entry.
The posting actually originated from another GOP county executive, Lexington County’s Corey Norris, just a half-hour earlier on the same day.
A Kershaw County Patriots member and mutual acquaintance of Norris and Mattox reposted the website article on the local Tea Party group’s facebook page, where it earned Mattox’s “like.”
In his posting, Norris continued the sentiment of the “Shoot a Cop” article, which states “the history of the human race would have been a lot LESS gruesome if there had been a lot MORE ‘cop-killers’ around(.)”
Norris’ commentary supporting the article, which he called “VERY good,” was captured by national media. Politico’s site features image of Norris’ “cops must understand they have no more rights than anyone else” comment.
After catching wind of this from Politico, the state Republican Party requested both Norris and Mattox step down from their positions.
“Their actions are unacceptable,” Matt Moore, SCGOP executive director, told Politico.
The state’s Democratic Party was quick to respond, as well. SCDP chairman Dick Harpootlian criticized SCGOP’s low-level response, and state Sen. Vincent Sheheen told Politico, “I think we’ve seen a real shift in the Republican party over the last 8 to 10 years that culminated in the last election — a move away from those traditional positions and more a flat out anti-government approach.”
The incident didn’t just bother the SCGOP and the SCDP, though; it stirred up local police, too.
After learning of the facebook postings, police in Kershaw County’s town of Camden were instructed to wear body armor.
UPDATE: 2:07 PM EDT – JULY 26
Mattox is refusing to honor SCGOP’s request that he step down from his county party’s co-chair position, according to a recent report from the Associated Press.
He says the request from the state party and his Kershaw County GOP violates constitutional rights.
Mattox told AP: “The Constitution gives everybody the right to free speech. And if you start to pick and choose what is and what is not appropriate speech, then what good is the Constitution? Maybe they need to go and amend the Constitution to say, ‘You have the right to free speech except,’ and then tell us what is unacceptable.”
Yesterday evening, Mattox was asked to resign his co-chair position, which Kershaw County GOP Chairman Chris Oviatt said was only created at last year’s convention to merge the Tea Party into Kershaw’s Republican Party.
In February 2010 Karen Floyd, who was then state party chairperson, announced an informal merging of the SCGOP with the Tea Party, and with goals of unifying the similar organizations.
Although SCGOP reiterated its demand for resignation this morning, Mattox says he is “unapologetic” in his refusal to accommodate the request.