Hodges Consulted with Council of Conservative Citizens

Palmetto Journal, Tuesday, February 9, 1999
� Copyright 1999 PalmettoJournal.com.

As you may recall, back in 1998, Sheriff James Metts ended his independent campaign during the SC State Republican Party convention. Immediately after that, the wheels began turning in Frank Knapp's head. Knapp, who was also known as Robert Jefferson of the Jefferson Report until that commentary segment ended, had been campaign manager for Metts and now had to come up with another plan to make sure pro-Confederate flag voters voted for Jim Hodges. Knapp is also a Columbia media consultant who has placed buys on behalf of clients that have been extremely anti-Confederate flag.

Knapp assembled all of the petitions that had been signed on behalf of placing Metts' name on the ballot and refused to return them. His intent soon became apparent when a meeting was arranged by Knapp that included then-candidate Jim Hodges, Jerry Creech of Barnwell (at that time the President of the SC Council of Conservative Citizens) and R.G. Wilson of Easley. The meeting took place in Columbia. According to those in attendance, Hodges promised not to initiate action to remove the Confederate flag from the Statehouse dome if he were elected. Hodges would not make any promises about his intention to sign bills initiated by others to take the flag down. This meeting has been confirmed to various reporters by Creech and by Hodges staffers.

Then, on July 1, 1998, a Statement of Organization for a political action committee known as the Palmetto League was filed with the State Ethics Commission. The date of organization was listed as June 1, 1998, which wasn't long after the meeting with Hodges. Jerry Creech signed the organizational statement as Committee Chairman while R.G. Wilson signed it as Committee Treasurer. The address given for the Palmetto League in the ethics filings and on their web pages and correspondence is 709 Woodrow Street, Suite 110, Columbia, SC 29205. That is a bit deceptive however, since that address is a box at Personal P.O., a Columbia business much like Mail Boxes Etc. The address given on the domain name registration for dumpbeasley.com - what served as the League's web site during the campaign - is 1717 Gervais Street, which also happens to be the address for The Knapp Agency. The Palmetto League drew most of its appeal from groups like the Council of Conservative Citizens.

Much has been written nationally about the Council of Conservative Citizens in recent months. Most of the articles tied the CCC to racism and extremism. A sampling of these articles can be read at the end of this article. After it became known that Sen. Trent Lott had attended several meetings of the group and Rep. Bob Barr spoke to a national meeting in Charleston, a media firestorm erupted, one that would involve South Carolina. Dr. Buddy Witherspoon, Republican National Committeeman from South Carolina, was requested to resign from the CCC by RNC Chairman Jim Nicholson. Witherspoon refused. Rep. Charlie Sharpe was also listed in news reports as a member but said his membership would not be renewed. Rep. Jim Clyburn of SC, Chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, has co-sponsored a resolution condemning the CCC while the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) held a news conference to call for Witherspoon's resignation. It will be interesting to see who also criticizes Hodges' meeting.

The most recent story about the SC Council of Conservative Citizens appeared in Sunday's Augusta Chronicle. The story is entitled "Intentions of Pro-White Group Questioned in Political Arena." It is quite interesting that the SC and national press has run a large number of negative stories about the CCC when mentioning Republicans like Witherspoon and others, yet has remained mute on the Hodges meeting. This story has been sitting in the laps of the SC news media for the past few weeks with no stories printed until now.

Council of Conservative Citizens Web site