Lexington County GOP condemns, censures Knotts over comment

LEXINGTON COUNTY, SC (WIS) - The Lexington County Republican Party has voted 26 - 7 to condemn, censure and ask for the resignation of state Sen. Jake Knotts over a remark he made toward President Barack Obama and gubernatorial candidate Rep. Nikki Haley.

The vote comes weeks after Knotts was caught on camera calling the president and Haley a derogatory term during the filming of an Internet talk show.

"We already got one raghead in the White House, we don't need a raghead in the governor's mansion," said Knotts in reference to the fellow Lexington Republican's campaign for governor.

Knotts apologized for the comment and said it was merely in jest.

In the original resolution, it called for Knotts to be kicked out of the Lexington County GOP, but they decided to remove that wording.

During the meeting, people spoke up for and against Knotts.

"I actually thought the apology was just as bad, the attempt at the apology was just as bad as the original remark," said Joshua Gross.

"I do not feel like we should be divisive and sew more discord by doing something so ugly as to censure him," said Tommy Blonk.

Knotts continues to stand defiant against calls for his resignation.

"No, I'm not going to resign from office and they can say what they want to," said Knotts. "I made a mistake. I immediately recognized it and apologized."

"The outside special interests -- because of politics -- don't want to accept the apology and wants to keep it alive," said Knotts.

Knotts also denied claims from critics who have called him a racist.

"I help anybody. It doesn't matter what the color of their skin is, it doesn't matter what party they are in, whether they're a Democrat or a Republican, I work both sides of the aisle," said Knotts. "You can't work both sides of the aisle if you're a racist."

Knotts says libertarians have infiltrated the party and are the same group of people who called out US Sen. Lindsey Graham for working with Democrats on an energy bill, but didn't vote to censure Gov. Mark Sanford for his affair.

Thursday night's condemnation is just another against Knotts after the comment went public.

Earlier in the day, the chairman of the Greenville County Republican party said he's going to move to have Knotts expelled from the party.

"I cannot sit idly by and watch our Party be torn apart by Senator Jake Knotts' bigotry," said Chairman Patrick Haddon in a statement. "At the next state executive committee meeting, I will move for his expulsion from the South Carolina Republican Party. This is the harshest penalty the Party can impose, and it is more than justified in this situation."

In addition to asking for his expulsion, Haddon is asking fellow Republicans who have endorsed Knotts', like Congressman Joe Wilson, to withdraw their endorsements

"The comments made by Senator Knotts are inexcusable and cannot be tolerated by our Republican Party," said Haddon.

Congressman Wilson released a statement Thursday evening saying he "strongly supported" the actions by the county party.

"Senator Knotts did not reflect the values of our citizens in his language or in the tone of his remarks and certainly did not reflect mine," said Wilson.

The state GOP Executive Committee is expected to debate a Knotts resolution similar to the Lexington County GOP's resolution at their next meeting on June 26.

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