Can­di­date Collins was on RNC’s pay­roll at start of race

The Washington Times Daily - - POLITICS - BY ALEX SWOYER

One of the Repub­li­cans run­ning in South Carolina’s spe­cial con­gres­sional elec­tion was still on the Republican Na­tional Com­mit­tee’s pay­roll when he be­gan his cam­paign in Fe­bru­ary, rais­ing ques­tions among some party mem­bers and politi­cos about the RNC’s role in the race.

Chad Con­nelly was paid $120,000 last year and $31,000 this year by the RNC to serve as the party’s di­rec­tor of faith man­age­ment. He col­lected checks un­til he re­signed in early March, the month af­ter he an­nounced his can­di­dacy.

An­a­lysts said the le­gal­ity of the pay­ments de­pends on the de­tails of the ar­range­ment — but said po­lit­i­cally the rev­e­la­tion looks bad be­cause it sug­gests the na­tional party was pick­ing fa­vorites.

“The RNC is a Wash­ing­ton es­tab­lish­ment,” said Ka­ton Daw­son, a for­mer chair­man of South Carolina’s state GOP. “I’m not sure if Chad is on the pay­roll, but if he is, it would cer­tainly go against what we do in South Carolina, which is we get out of the way of pri­maries when they start and cer­tainly don’t put the es­tab­lish­ment be­hind any spe­cific can­di­date.”

Mr. Con­nelly re­ceived his first cam­paign do­na­tions Feb. 10, ac­cord­ing to fed­eral records, and an­nounced his cam­paign and filed his or­ga­ni­za­tion papers on Feb. 13 — but re­mained em­ployed by the RNC for weeks af­ter­ward.

The ar­range­ment was first re­ported by a South Carolina pol­i­tics blog,

Mr. Con­nelly is one of a half-dozen can­di­dates in the GOP pri­mary next week, ahead of the fi­nal elec­tion June 20.

“Me nor the RNC did any­thing wrong,” Mr. Con­nelly told The Wash­ing­ton Times. “We were su­per care­ful be­cause we knew some­body would try to say this.”

He said he vis­ited roughly 40 states while work­ing for the RNC, try­ing to rally re­li­gious lead­ers to back the GOP in last year’s elec­tions.

He told The Times al­le­ga­tions of im­pro­pri­ety were a po­lit­i­cal hit job on him, and he said he sus­pected one of his op­po­nents was up­set over his en­dorse­ments by mem­bers of the House Free­dom Cau­cus and by for­mer Arkansas Gov. Mike Huck­abee.

“There’s two re­ally wealthy, self-funded can­di­dates, who I think they as­sume … were go­ing to beat me bad, and they find them­selves los­ing,” he said.

Some RNC mem­bers said they saw no prob­lem with the over­lap.

“I’m fine with it. He did so much for the party and work, so I’m sure he and the RNC worked all that out, so I’m com­fort­able with that,” said Glenn McCall, South Carolina’s RNC com­mit­tee­man.

Texas RNC com­mit­tee­man Robin Arm­strong and Louisiana RNC com­mit­tee­man Ross Lit­tle also praised Mr. Con­nelly’s work for the RNC and said the pay­checks weren’t a con­cern.

“I’m un­clear why this is news,” said Ryan Ma­honey, the RNC com­mu­ni­ca­tions di­rec­tor.

He said Mr. Con­nelly does not cur­rently re­ceive a salary from the party, and said they moved swiftly once he filed pa­per­work in South Carolina on March 7 to be on the bal­lot.

“Chad did great work for the RNC, but we be­lieved it was ap­pro­pri­ate to part ways once it was clear he would be a can­di­date for Congress, which is why his RNC em­ploy­ment ended the week be­fore his fi­nal pa­per­work was filed,” said Mr. Ma­honey. “The RNC is com­mit­ted to keep­ing the 5th Con­gres­sional Dis­trict un­der con­ser­va­tive Republican lead­er­ship, and we wish all the Repub­li­cans well, but the RNC is not in­volved in this pri­mary.”

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