Fact-checking Club for Growth & House 117: Are they lying or just uninformed?

You can tell the 2008 primary season is starting out red-hot, and it looks like the lies and distortions are already starting.

This spring, the first entity we call out for flat-out misrepresenting the facts is the Club for Growth in their effort to support their endorsee, Tim Scott, in the race to fill the vacant House 117 seat in the Goose Creek area.

The target of their misrepresentations is Tim's fellow GOP candidate Wheeler Tillman, falsely criticized in a media release which they put out yesterday:

Tim’s opponents for the open seat, Wheeler Tillman and Bill Crosby, both present causes for concern. Tillman served for four years in the House during the 70’s as a Democrat, ran again for public office as a Democrat in the 1980’s and only switched parties earlier this decade.

Let's talk about the good, bad, and ugly behind this press release ...

HALF-TRUTH: Wheeler Tillman served in the House for six years in the 1970s.
OUTRIGHT LIE: Wheeler Tillman switched to the GOP in the early 1990s, and has been involved in the Republican Party since then.
UNSUPPORTED CLAIM: We're not sure what "present causes for concern" could possibly mean, but given Tillman's record, it seems he could be as much a fiscal conservative as Tim Scott. Tillman ran against Dantzler on a fiscally-conservative platform in 2002 in the GOP primary, and when a member of the House, sponsored legislation that ended the sales tax on prescription medicine.

As we know a lot of these groups are free-lancing this year, we won't pin this on Tim, but we certainly hope he'll make it clear that such a statement is false, misinformed, and regrettable.

We're disappointed that the Club for Growth would attempt to present such poorly-researched claims so early in the cycle. We hope this shoddy attempt at selective truth-telling will be retracted and they'll do a better job in the future.

15 Response to "Fact-checking Club for Growth & House 117: Are they lying or just uninformed?"

  1. Matt 25/3/08 08:20
    Earl,

    As Executive Director of the SC Club for Growth, I apologize for making an honest mistake in our endorsement release today – I thank you for bringing these items to our attention. I have changed our press release to reflect the fact that Tillman served as a Democrat for three terms in the House rather than two terms during the 1970’s.

    Our research showed that in 1988 Wheeler Tillman unsuccessfully ran as a Democrat in challenging Congressman Arthur Ravenel, Jr. We did not find anything indicating that Tillman had switched parties until he came in 4th in the Republican primary for the same congressional seat in 2000.

    We should have worded our sentence more carefully to reflect that fact. I understand that you have been a previous political consultant to Tillman so will accept your word that he become a Republican in the 1990’s rather than earlier this decade. If he ran for office as a Republican anytime before 2000 please let me know and I will change our release to indicate that fact.

    Otherwise, I will change our release to reflect the fact that he served as a Democrat for six years in the 1970’s, ran as a Democrat in the 1980’s, and finally ran as a Republican candidate earlier this decade. I apologize again to you for making an honest mistake with these details and will be sending an apology letter today to Tillman as well as no disrespect was meant to him by our mistake.

    Neither clarification at all changes our conclusion that Tim Scott is one of the most impressive fiscal conservatives that we’ve ever met. We think that he is a true reformer who is very worthy of our endorsement in this House primary.

    Cordially,
    Matt
  2. Anonymous 25/3/08 08:32
    Don't bother "fact-checking" endorsements that come before filing even closes.

    Matt endorses who they tell him to, when they tell him, and comes up with the reasons later.
  3. Earl Capps 25/3/08 08:46
    Matt - your facts were so off the mark it's hard to believe that you actually ran with them.

    If you look in the records for the Charleston County Republican Party, you should be able to find that he was active in their precinct reorgs well back into the 1990s.

    There are plenty of good Republicans who switched parties in the 80s and 90s, so you might want to be careful about criticizing former Democrats, like myself.

    Just because you think Tim's a good candidate is no reason to think there might not be other good candidates in the race, nor license to put out such loose and sloppy attacks on others.

    We're going to enjoy this spring. Between all the rogues out there to whom the need to win is more important than the need to be factual, we expect to be doing lots of fact checking in lots of races
  4. Anonymous 25/3/08 08:47
    This bunch is no better than SCRG or Rod Shealy. They want to win so bad that they won't let the truth get in the way.
  5. Anonymous 25/3/08 08:48
    Some Democrats are better than RINO Republicans.
  6. Anonymous 25/3/08 08:49
    Matt - have you met with any of the other candidates in that race? Did you give them a fair hearing or chance to make their views known?
  7. Spike 25/3/08 08:55
    I can understand them endorsing against Chalk and Knotts. Both are incumbents with records.

    But did they meet with all three candidates in the 117 race before they endorsed Tim Scott? I betcha they didn’t. They took the first one who would drink the Kool-Aid and quit looking.
  8. Archie 25/3/08 09:21
    Hey Earl, watch out. The SCRG Kool Aid Gang is still mad at you for all the work you did to blunt their attacks on Bill Cotty in the '06 cycle.
  9. Susan Setzer 25/3/08 09:59
    Matt, since you obviously don't know much about District 117 politics, you wouldn't know that Wheeler and Earl worked together on his 2002 race, but have been personal friends for years, before and after that race.

    Your attempt to imply that he spoke up for Wheeler on a purely professional basis was a cheap shot.

    Your group made a lot of hay about running Tim for that seat to get rid of Dantzler. But if you did your homework, you'd know that Wheeler almost took care of that for your group back in 2002. Even though he was way outspent and had that snake Shealy throwing mud at him.

    Maybe if Johnnies-come-lately like yourself had been around to help back then, you would already have a real conservative in that seat?

    It just goes to show your group has no idea what you're talking about, and no place in our state's politics.
  10. west_rhino 25/3/08 12:47
    One wonders if the same allegations would have landed in the lap of a former press secretary to then Governor Hollings, based on past affiliations with the Democrat party... Earl probably knows I'm thinking of John Graham Altman III. We've had quite a few that held their noses until they couldn't abide the DNC platform, which by default is extended to
    the state, county and local parties and candidates that moved to the GOP on principle. I'll grant, we've had a few jump parties on the basis that they couldn't be re-elected on Clinton's or Hodges' coat-tails that meet the RINO category.

    We have also seen a Republicans for Stavarnakis (Senate seat 42) participant seal her fate running for Charleston GOP chair by admitting that she had no idea who the GOP nominee (John Kuhn) was, particulary after a fractious and well publicized primary.

    I don't have a vote in the 117 race, but, having met both, I consider Tim Scott and Wheeler Tillman to both be worthy candidates for the office. Not a dis-endorsement of Mr. Crosby, just I don't know him from Adam's housecat and would hope that he's up to the same standard of the other two.
  11. Ron 25/3/08 13:37
    Earl as a member of the GOP since the Richard Nixon/Gerald Ford era, I know a fiscal conservative when i see and hear one. While I personally like and respect Tim as a fellow Republican, a fellow Christian and business man, I would not classify him more conservative than Wheeler. I would like to see Tim's record of support for the various sales tax increases for Charleston County and the recent shift of tax burden by the state from the haves to the have nots which was called a disaster by the Strom Thurmond institute as well as the SC Policy Council and the South Carolina Association of Realtors. I seem to remember Tim vocalizing his support for that shift of tax burden. If i'm wrong, I'll stand corrected. My real point here is that I do not think that anyone can truthfully say that Tim is more conservative than Wheeler and the opposite may be the reality.
  12. Anonymous 25/3/08 16:43
    I'm sick of this "target list" mindset that is long on conformity and short on objective, factual criteria.

    The weighting of some of the votes is ridiculous, and there seems to be more effort aimed at Republicans who cross party lines for a few votes than Democrats in swing districts who really block progress for the state.

    It's sick, and I'm SICK of this petty and childish game by a bunch of power-hungry reformers who care more about the sanctity of their ideas than the people of this state.

    In case they never noticed, Carroll Campbell was an effective reformer and he didn't need a half-dozen astroturf "reform" groups backed by millions of dollars to get the job done.

    Campbell stood on principle, but respected people and bargained in good faith. He didn't get everything he wanted, but he made progress, which is more than Sanford and his thugs have gotten.

    That man was a REAL Republican,

    It's about time these people left our state and went back to whatever hole they crawled out of.
  13. Palmetto Patriot 25/3/08 22:39
    Those people, Club for Growth, and its brothers, SCRG and PIC are doing the same bit all over the country. They are the well funded, paid professionals who get their marching orders from Howard Rich and his gang.

    Give Rich credit for learning from Perot that an eccentric billionaire can not get elected, but he can use aged old liberal tactics such as mudslinging, lawsuits, and downright political intimidation to make a point.

    Watch out Capps, they have an army of lawyers pouring over your words, ready to sue at a drop of the hat.
  14. Earl Capps 25/3/08 22:49
    Patriot, your point is well taken and appreciated.

    The shame of it is that I agree with them on a lot of issues, but I don't believe the ends justify the means.

    Maybe they will sue me, but this poor single parent who has never gotten a penny of child support, doesn't have a whole heck of a lot to sue for. They can choose from my 1992 Buick Century or my 1993 Mercury Sable.

    Lawsuits only scare those who have something to lose.

    Until I get rich and decide my bank account is more important than my sense of honor and the best interests of South Carolina, look for me to call it as a I see it.

    ... not to mention some cool album reviews as well.
  15. way south of the border moye 26/3/08 23:07
    The GOP is more than just a few people who switched parties. I started out a Democrat then a Libertarian and finally a Republican myself. I love my party and do not feel that you have to favor Reagan or Carroll Campbell to be a member. Hell Richard Nixon is my favorite President. I belive our Governor is a good man and maybe he does veto too much but give him credit he will not waste our money. Lindsey Graham is also a good man and if he did not join the bunch now that the Democrats are in control we would have a much harder time of it. Also his stance on Immigration while I do not like what are you going to do with over 12 million illegals. You do not have to be a Conservative or a religious person to be a member of the GOP. You do have to be an American.

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