RNC Chair Wary of Right-Wing Group
By Glen Johnson
Associated Press Writer
Tuesday, January 19, 1999; 10:40 p.m. EST
WASHINGTON (AP) The chairman of the Republican
National Committee called on his fellow party members Tuesday
to resign from the Council of Conservative Citizens because "it
appears that this group does hold racist views."
"A member of the party of (Abraham) Lincoln should
not belong to such an organization," GOP Chairman Jim Nicholson
He appealed directly to Buddy Witherspoon, one
of the party's national committee members from South Carolina,
to resign from the council. Witherspoon, an orthodontist from
Columbia, S.C., told Nicholson he would not do anything of the
Witherspoon insisted the council's South Carolina
chapter holds no racist views, but is simply an advocate for conservative
causes, especially fighting to retain the right to display the
Confederate flag in the South.
"Never have I heard anything said about race
in any way, shape or form," Witherspoon said in an interview.
The St. Louis-based council has mushroomed into
a national embarrassment for the Republican National Committee
in recent weeks amid reports that both Senate Majority Leader
Trent Lott, R-Miss., and Rep. Bob Barr, R-Ga., spoke at its meetings.
Both Barr and Lott have said they were not aware
of the council's racist positions. Barr said last month he disagrees
"with many of this group's ridiculous views." Last week, Lott
also distanced himself from the group.
The council's World Wide Web site includes numerous
articles suggesting that the white race is under siege. On Tuesday,
visitors were urged to forget "petty pretenders" such as Martin
Luther King Jr., and celebrate the birthday of "the greatest American
who ever lived" General Robert E. Lee, leader of Confederate
forces during the Civil War.
"There is no room for racist views in the Republican
Party," said Nicholson. "I never heard of the CCC until a few
days ago, but it appears that this group does hold racist views.
The Republican Party rejects and condemns such views forcefully
and without hesitation or equivocation."
The issue is likely to come up at this week's
RNC's winter meeting.
At the meeting, Witherspoon is planning to also
attract action because he plans to propose a resolution that would
require the GOP to stop taking donations from gambling interests,
and require that party donations be withheld from any candidate
who supports legalized gambling.
Common Cause, a government finance watchdog,
reports that from 1988 to 1998, the gambling industry made $7.2
million in "soft money donations" to the GOP, versus $6.3 million
to the Democratic Party.
The video poker lobby also played an instrumental
role this fall in defeating South Carolina Gov. David Beasley,
a Republican who opposed creating a state lottery. Witherspoon
said he supported Beasley.
© Copyright 1999 The Associated Press