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Monday, June 24, 2024 - 12:33 AM


First Published in 1994


GCGOP State Executive Committeeman Stephen Brown Immediately Resigns

Greenville GOP Divide

With the Greenville County GOP Chair barred from state GOP meetings, cops being called to the new GCGOP headquarters, Democrat as a guest speaker, GOP elected officials distancing themselves from the meetings, attempts to remove good-standing executive committeemen due to personal agendas, very long out-of-control executive committee meetings, 2nd Vice-Chair stepping down, Treasurer resigning his position, lawsuit threats being slung around, rules committee presenting non-definitive opinions, constant name-calling and derogative statements towards fellow Republicans, constant shouting and screaming during meetings that are getting out of control and now State Executive Committeeman Stephen Brown calling it quits and wants nothing to do with the executive committee he once chaired himself. We could go on and add to this list and you probably will believe we are making this stuff up. Trust me, we are not.

This is the sad state of affairs in the largest GOP Executive Committee delegation in the largest county and considered the most conservative in South Carolina. I admit, as Publisher of The Times Examiner, I have been holding my pen because your writer is a member of this body and has been a member of this body since the late 90s when Stephen Brown was chairman. I love this body and have fond memories of it. I rather not hang dirty laundry up for the public, but common sense must step in immediately. The question is who steps in, how, and when?

Before the March 7th Executive Committee meeting got started, Stephen Brown was passing out a motion that would provide direct instructions to the GCRP Chairman in regard to the policies of the Greenville County Republican Party concerning communications on its behalf. It was made clear that even though it had to do with some things the current chairman has done, this would be for all present and future chairmen.

The motion stated that some of the elected and appointed officers of the GCRP discovered that the current Chairman, Jeff Davis, has been signing letters and issuing statements, purportedly on behalf of the GCRP, giving formal Notice to persons, offices, or corporate entities to Preserve Evidence, or to provide documents and information pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), without authorization of the GCRP Executive Committee. The Freedom of Information Act reference was challenged later by an executive committeeman who says the attached letter did not have anything to do with FOIA.

“There is a proper way to do business and a proper way to treat people and a proper way to deploy them.” - Stephen Brown

The motion also stated that Davis as chairman took it up himself to modify the official Greenville County Republican Party logo by adding the words "My" at the beginning of the name in the logo's seal. Also, in some instances, Trump's easily recognized hair was added to the logo. The motion claimed that he did this without the consent of the Executive Committee body. Davis claimed that Brown knew this when he was wearing the logo on his name tag at earlier meetings. But it was obvious that anyone could have overlooked the modification of the logo not realizing the words "My" were added which blended unknowingly in the logo seal until someone pointed it out.

The motion said that these actions are injurious to the GCRP brand, and potentially puts the GCRP Executive Committee at legal risk for the Chairman to take actions and make public statements that have not been authorized by the GCRP.

The motion demanded that the GCRP Executive Committee clearly sets and states the policy of the GCRP regarding the use of its logo, the issuance of quasi-legal notices or document requests, or any other statements purportedly issued on its behalf by the GCRP Chairman. In other words, it directs the Chairman to conform all of his actions, and the actions of any other agents of the GCRP under his authority, to comply with the stated policy of the GCRP.

It then lists four requirements and guidelines on proper management of oral and written communication by the Chairman or any other officer or agent of the GCRP. It stressed the importance of getting authorization from the GCRP Executive Committee on things that require so. It also instructed the chairman to be cautious and wise in the choice of words in any public statement on behalf of GCRP, to ensure that any such public statement is consistent with the policy of the GCRP, and is not libelous or slanderous, potentially putting the GCRP Executive Committee, or its members, at risk of legal liability.

There was an attempt by a member of the body to change the agenda and move this motion to the beginning of the meeting. Understanding the intentions of the said member, the author of the motion stated that this could not be done without the acceptance of the credentials. The parliamentarian agreed. After a few jeers from the audience, the one requesting the change of the agenda questioned if this was becoming a mob-ruled meeting.

“When there is no enemy within, the enemies outside cannot hurt you.” - African Proverb

As soon as the credentials committee reported 110 precincts out of 151 were represented in the meeting, Brown got up and asked to have the body move to adopt the change of agenda to take up his motion.

Stephen Brown started out with some complaints about not being on the agenda as State Executive Committeeman and other email notices that never went out as requested.

Davis claimed that the meeting agenda yet to transpire had a lot of details that would counter what Stephen Brown’s motion would bring up. He implied that is the reason why he wanted to wait before taking up this motion. But the body voted to hear it at that time.

After Brown read the motion and went into a few details in support of the motion, he stated that the intentions of adding the “My” to the GCRP logo was an attempt to confuse and make an analogy between the MySCGOP and the MyGCGOP as implied on the altered logo.

Brown explained that he has no problem with the MySCGOP members coming into the GCGOP but that they need to keep the two entities separate.

Because Davis was the object of the motion, he temporarily stepped down as chairman to let the 4th Vice Chair Griffin Callahan preside over the handling of the motion as acting chairman.

Stephen Brown, as author, began the debate by questioning the legality of the letter that was attached to the motion. He said an outside/unbiased lawyer representing the GCGOP Executive Committee should be the one submitting the letter which was a Notice to Preserve Evidence. He also pointed out that Davis was not a legal practicing lawyer in SC.

Brown stated that any formal request should be approved by the body as a whole, that there is a proper way to do business and a proper way to treat people and a proper way to deploy them.

Brown also stated that Davis made factually untrue statements about the previous location of the GCGOP headquarters which he implied would put us all at risk for financial legal liabilities. He concluded by recommending the body to hold their tongue and not be reckless.

Debate by members of the committee began with many interruptions of points of order and clarifications, members not recognized would shout from the audience, name-calling ensued, and emotions out of control. This has become common at these meetings.

“Davis defended his letter of Notice to Preserve Evidence as protecting the interest of GCGOP.”

One member accused Brown’s motion to have former Chairman Nate Leupp’s finger all over it, to which Brown countered later as not true and as a misdirection. Brown defended his record involvement of trying to close the primaries. He stated that his opinion of the previous chairman breaking the rules also applies to the current one and that he is being consistent and honest.

Davis defended his letter of Notice to Preserve Evidence as protecting the interest of GCGOP. All he asked was the person to preserve evidence not to delete emails, because he thought there was criminality involved. He continued saying it was his duty as chairman to do so. Davis said that Brown was using sophistry. Davis started to attack Brown about his report against the previous chairman in leaving out all the other people’s names which Davis did not name himself. He claims Brown squashed further investigation in his own report against the previous chairman.

Davis added that in a joint meeting with him, Brown and Greenville Sheriff Hobart Lewis, that Lewis claimed that there is criminality in our precinct reorganization process and that he cannot believe that somebody is not already investigating this – referring to the previous precinct reorganization under the previous chairman. He claimed that Brown told the Sheriff that there is not any criminality in our precinct reorganization process. Brown later denied that the Sheriff ever said that.

As Davis ran out of time, he associated former State Executive Committeeman Randy Page in conjunction with Brown in relation to the FOIA request issue claiming that Page was behind it.

After heated debates, squabbling and attacks on other members of the body, the motion failed by 55 to 50.

As soon as the vote was done and while Davis was speaking in response, a member of the body declared a point of information regarding a board meeting that took place at the new headquarters where the cops had to be called. She wanted to know what the facts were.

Stephen Bradshaw, known as “Cowboy,” stood up and identified himself as the one who called the cops. He stated that the board had nothing to do with the police being called. He claimed that he called the cops due to a disruption. He said there is no reason why it needs to be brought up at this meeting.

Davis added that there was a request to issue a trespass notice against 5th Vice Chair Tina Bollinger’s husband David Bollinger who is President of the Canebrake Precinct, but the chairman said they did not recommend it and did not go through with it.

“It is the job of any County GOP Executive Committee to be a source of camaraderie, support, and encouragement for current elected officials and candidates.”

David Bollinger spoke in his defense that he was delivering materials that his wife was going to use for a training session at the headquarters. Stephen Bradshaw (aka, Cowboy) interrupted and tried to get him disqualified to speak since he was not an executive committeeman, but it was made clear that he was president of his precinct who can speak at executive committee meetings.

After a few interruptions from the audience, Bollinger continued to explain that as he approached and got out of his truck with material that needed to be at the headquarters, Bradshaw came up and told him that he needed to get out of here and immediately told him that he was causing trouble here.

For our readers, it was David Bollinger at the last meeting who had asked if they had permits to do all the renovations at the new headquarters location which was done mostly by Bradshaw with help from volunteers. Bollinger did not want GCGOP to be responsible for anything that may happen at the headquarters if it was not properly inspected and permitted properly. At that meeting, he was speaking against voting on accepting the headquarters part of the budget at that time until further proof of permits and proper inspection were obtained. The executive body agreed as a whole. At that same previous meeting, Davis could not respond regarding the permits or inspections. But at this meeting, they had inspection notices and permit that Bradshaw held in his hands.

So, David continued by claiming, as a President of a precinct and husband of a board member who was part of a training session, that he was there to deliver these materials. His conclusion was that he did not attack him, did not curse him, or did not disrespect him and that Bradshaw said he was in charge of this building as Sgt. Of Arms. Bradshaw then called the owner, but the owner said Jeff Davis speaks for me. He continued to say that Bradshaw told him that he is also Sgt. Of Arms of the executive meetings at the Hilton and told him that he cannot come there either. In which Davis clearly replied to Bollinger we do want you here.

“Dishonesty here and things that have been said are untrue.” - Stephen Brown

After the discussion concerning the headquarters, Davis wanted to let everyone know that he was not necessarily opposed to Brown’s motion. He said he does not want to have to ask 151 people, 109, 110, but he definitely wanted to ask the board in which he said he did. According to Davis, the board did approve of the Trump logo. He is asking people to come to him and talk with him when you have a problem.

After further attacks, some screaming and hollering by some members, an attempt to amend the minutes, some further business to be dealt with, and Stephen Brown being called a liar, Brown got up to the podium, having to defend another motion made at a prior meeting about endorsing candidates during primaries, and said he had enough. He stated that there is dishonesty here and things that have been said are untrue. He concluded that this will be the last time he will address this body and that he was done and hoped for the best of the body and, effective immediately, resigned his position as State Executive Committeeman who represents Greenville County at the State GOP Executive Committee.

Stephen Brown’s intent was to encourage positive energy and strong Conservatism, but energy must be harnessed and managed, fire has to be controlled – the Bible calls it, temperance. You can have a lot of conservative proposals and goals, but for proposals to be successful, it takes a self-controlled unifying leader to make those happen. That was Brown’s intent for the position of chairman which Davis currently holds.

Jesus Christ Himself said a house divided cannot stand. What is happening to the GCGOP is a fulfillment of that very statement by our Lord and Savior.

Jesus also said be wise as serpents, but harmless as doves. Some members of the committee have used the story of Jesus driving out the money changers in the temple as a reason why they constantly and emotionally attack other Republicans – they are cleaning out RINOs, they say, a word that has been slung around and branded on those they dislike. But those who like to point that out overlook Isaiah's reference to Jesus where it says, "He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth."

“A house divided cannot stand.”

So, I ask the question again. What can be done? Who can do it? When and how? Will it be a motion from a local executive committeeman or a group of them? Will it be Davis himself taking the high road and cleaning this mess up himself, will the current executive body take action or does this require intervention from the state GOP who is already hated by a good majority of Greenville GOP executive committee members that crossed over from MySCGOP.

It was clearly stated and confirmed by the current parliamentarians in earlier meetings last year that Greenville GOP exists at the behest and directive of the State GOP. If that is true, when will the State GOP consider itself the arbitrator and mediator of this divide? Or will it let its largest most conservative executive body crash and burn till there is nothing left? Do we have time or energy for that?

It is the job of any County GOP Executive Committee to be a source of camaraderie, support, and encouragement for current elected officials and candidates to pool together with effective tools and manpower to accomplish the goals of the Republican Party platform in their communities and elected offices. In Greenville's case, it is obvious elected officials, and some candidates are running from and not to the GCGOP but getting support from other local GOP Clubs that have distanced themselves from GCGOP.

I end with a quote that is attributed to an old African proverb, "When there is no enemy within, the enemies outside cannot hurt you." It would be wise for South Carolina GOP and particularly Greenville GOP to take that into consideration as we enter this year's mid-term elections.