Bustos resigns as chairman of Charleston County GOP

  • Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Joe Bustos

Effective at noon Monday Charleston County Republican Party Chairman Joe Bustos resigned his post. In an email sent out Monday morning, he said, “Today I am resigning from the Charleston County Chairmanship. The personal attacks and rancor is too divisive.”

Bustos told the Moultrie News that former chairman Dr. Mark Hartley was causing dissension and being untruthful about the state of things “He was turning me into a lighting rod that would divide the party and I was not going to let that happen.”

Bustos said he resigned so he can focus on the Mount Pleasant mayor’s race. “I expect more of his (Hartley’s) shenanigans during the mayor’s race like last time. So I wanted to clear the deck so I could concentrate on what I’m doing.”

Last week, emails between former chairman Hartley and Bustos highlight Hartley’s desire to adopt a rule that is different from the SCGOP rule requiring anyone seeking office to resign from their seat on the county committee. Bustos is running for the mayoral seat in Mount Pleasant, which is a non-partisan race.

Sitting Mayor Billy Swails has announced he will seek another term, in office. Hartley is Swails’ campaign advisor.

“It goes without saying that you and the former chair are simply sore losers and are now attempting to be obstructionists... This only goes to the heart of your selective motivation for party politics,” Bustos emailed Hartley.

Hartley said in response, “If you want this to be a fight between you and me over the fact that I advise Mayor Swails, fine. I’m sure I can convince a majority of folks, inside and outside the executive committee, otherwise. We need a party chairman who can lead us forward during this important time, not one who may resign in midstream if he wins a bigger prize. This can be a spitting contest or you can do the right thing. Pick one job or the other, sir.”

John Steinberger, first vice chairman of the county GOP will take over the party and hold an election to fill the seat.

Hartley told the Moultrie News that this is not a Joe Bustos verses Lin Bennett issue. “No one is mad because Joe won the chairmanship,” he said. “People are more worried about having a full time chairman.”

Hartley explained that many Republican-held seats are coming up for reelection and protecting those seats and getting sitting Republicans reelected is what is important.

Hartley said numerous people asked him specifically if he thought someone could spend the necessary time campaigning for the mayor’s office and still have enough time to be chairman of the party as well.

“Enough people that said that if they knew he was an announced candidate for mayor they would not have voted for him as chairman. He can’t have enough time to do both and do both well.”

Hartley added that these were not the “anti-Joe” people saying this either. “We need a cheerleader for the party. We have too much on our plate.”

Monday evening a rule was passed 35-25 to prohibit Charleston County GOP officers from also running for public office at the same time they serve as officers of the party. “The committee decided that we need leaders who will devote their full efforts to helping elect Republicans in 2014 and having an officer run as a candidate for any office would detract from their duties as a party leader,” said Hartley.

Also, nominations for new chairman of the county GOP were made. John Steinberger, Jonathan Hoffman and Mark Smith were nominated. All said they would accept the nomination and would serve if elected.

The election will be at next month’s GOP committee meeting.

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