Former Sanford press man Will Folks put out an interesting post on his blog, FITS News, a few days back on Buddy Witherspoon, who is seeking to unseat U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham. In the post, Folks reports that Witherspoon has ties to the Council of Conservative Citizens, an organization viewed by the Southern Poverty Law Center and others as a hate group.
Back in 1999, Witherspoon was criticized for his affiliation with the CofCC and for refusing a request from then-Republican National Chairman Jim Nicholson to quit the group. Nicholson’s request came amid intense media scrutiny following the revelation that powerful Southern politicians like Trent Lott, among others, were linked to the group, which was said to have been “built by supporters of the segregationist White Citizens Councils, the John Birch Society and activists in the presidential campaigns of then-Alabama Gov. George C. Wallace.”
Witherspoon eventually severed his ties with the CofCC, but that hasn’t stopped Graham supporters from spreading the word about his prior affiliation. Some of them have even suggested that Witherspoon maintains ties not only to the CofCC, but also to the more overtly-racist Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, and that his public renouncement of these organizations is merely an attempt to come across as more acceptable to moderate GOP voters.
A Witherspoon supporter who spoke with FITSNews on the condition of anonymity vowed that Graham “would rue the day his people picked this fight.”
“Lindsey and his people are just smearing Buddy’s name, trying to make him a fringe candidate before he even gets into the race,” he said. “That’s a big mistake. Buddy fights fire with fire.”
When asked by Spartanburg’s Herald-Journal about these alleged ties to the CofCC:
“Those claims are totally absurd,” Witherspoon said. “It’s unfortunate that just because you disagree with an individual and stand up to the plate that this sort of thing happens. I’ve been to one meeting years ago where I introduced a U.S. congressman, and that was it.”
Meanwhile, the South Carolina CofCC blog posted an announcement alerting its readers of Witherspoon’s campaign schedule. Of course, that doesn’t prove anything other than they like Witherspoon. It doesn’t mean the love goes both ways, you know.