Republicans Reject South Carolina Member's
Proposed Gambling Money Ban
By Michelle R. Davis
Knight Ridder/Tribune Business
Janaury 23, 1999
WASHINGTON - A proposal by a
Lexington orthodontist that would have barred the Republican National
Committee from accepting gambling money was rejected Thursday
at the group's winter meeting here.
Buddy Witherspoon, a South Carolina Republican
National Committee member, caused controversy by suggesting the
resolution in the wake of the S.C. governor's race, in which the
Democratic candidate won with the help of donations from gambling
"We've got to take a stand," Witherspoon
said after a meeting of the Committee on Resolutions, which was
closed to the public.
The committee voted 5-2 against the resolution,
RNC spokesman Tim Fitzpatrick said.
"Gaming, the lottery and gambling of one
sort or another is perfectly legal in 37 states, and money from
gaming interests is a perfectly legal source of support for both
political parties," he said. "We felt it wouldn't
be appropriate for the RNC to propose such a broad limitation."
Witherspoon would not elaborate on the discussion
surrounding the defeat of the resolution, but said the idea was
not "sour grapes" after the Republican loss of the governorship
in South Carolina.
"It is a vice," Witherspoon said of
gambling. "It is an issue that is destructive of families
and it's something we need to take a good, hard look at, because
it's getting worse instead of better."
His resolution had stated that "gambling
is unconscionable in light of devastation via increased crime,
marital strife, child abuse and neglect." It would
have prevented the RNC from accepting gambling money as well as
preventing it from making a contribution to a candidate accepting
Witherspoon also gained attention at the meeting
Thursday for his connection to the Council of Conservative Citizens,
said by some to hold racist views. A day earlier, RNC chairman
Jim Nicholson called on Republicans who are members of the group
to resign. He specifically targeted Witherspoon and asked
him to withdraw his membership to the group.
Witherspoon declined, and said Thursday he'd meet
with members of the South Carolina branch of the group to decide
what to do. He said the group focused on Sothern "preservation"
issues. He called the members of the group "constituents"
who support the conservative party line.
"I will not turn my back on any constituents
that come to me with issues," he said.
But state GOP Executive Director Trey Walker,
who was also in Washington for the meeting, said that the CCC
has "been involved nationally in some very scary things"
and that the state party wants nothing to do with the organization.
He said involvement with the CCC goes against
the party's goal of trying to attract new members, including African-Americans.
"We're not against Buddy. He's a grown
man and he'll have to make his own decision," Walker said.
"But this isn't the signal the state party wants or needs