It’s been a long tough week for the S.C. Republican Party - and it’s just Tuesday.
Sunday night, a letter released by former SCGOP Treasurer John Cattano made some serious allegations against the leadership of the state Republican Party under SCGOP Chair Karen Floyd:
I was asked by SCGOP Chairwoman Karen Floyd last summer to become the Treasurer of the party, and after some initial guidance by Glen O’Connell – who had served as SCGOP Treasurer for a few years under Katon Dawson – I assumed that role in December of 2009. I resigned three months later.
In short, I would describe my tenure as an absolutely toxic experience that I could simply no longer endure. Not only was I forced into a reactionary position concerning the party’s extravagant spending on non-electoral items, I was also forced to oversee expenditures on items that would only serve political insiders in Columbia – and to do so without objection.
The response, delivered by SCGOP Executive Director Joel Sawyer, was swift and voluminous:
Many of you may have read a blog post this morning by our former Party Treasurer, John Cattano, attacking the financial position of the South Carolina Republican Party. Mr. Cattano served as our Treasurer for roughly three months earlier this year, and at that time had very little interaction with day-to-day finances of the Party. As such, I fear that much of what he posted arose from a lack of understanding of Party expenditures, rather than any ill intent. Nonetheless, Chairman Floyd believed it was important for me to send around this short response to our Executive Committee in an effort to separate fact from fiction.
As Sawyer is the guy who once shilled for Governor Sanford (and like everyone else, got left holding the figurative check), he normally wouldn't receive a shred of credibility in the Blogland, except that others have joined him in challenging Cattano's allegations.
Maybe Cattano's letter would have raised little notice had other concerns not been raised about the SCGOP over the last year:
The party is on its third Executive Director since current Chair Karen Floyd took office last year.
The SCGOP website was pulled down when Floyd took office, and remained down for months.
An ambitious agenda to improve coordination with the grassroots hasn't seen a lot of action (including yours truly being told in the middle of a crowded breakfast club meeting that he was being put on a SCGOP committee that, thus far, either hasn't met, or uninvited him).
The bottom line is that the current state of affairs in the SCGOP, in the eyes of many we've talked with, could be described as "confused".
This isn't something that can be put solely on the back of Cattano and a small group of malcontents. Others have expressed their concern that the state party hasn't taken the bold new directions promised by Floyd during her candidacy for the SCGOP Chair (which was supported by the Blogland last year).
As the Chair, it's up to Floyd to establish and defend the credibility of the organization which she is responsible for leading. Email volleys fired by staff will not suffice to set the record straight. Failing to respond, both in words and deeds, may help convince others that Cattano is right, and maybe even fuel these concerns.
Crisis creates opportunity. With Floyd's leadership brought into question, perhaps this can be the opportunity she needs to set the record straight and bring the party faithful together. Doing so could do much to help the GOP take the best advantage of what is expected to be one of the best electoral environments they've had in many years.