GOP activists fight back against Mosteller

By Yvonne Wenger

Charleston Post & Courier- Friday, October 29, 2010

COLUMBIA — More than a dozen Republican activists have pushed back against social conservative Cyndi Mosteller and her group of Nikki Haley critics.

Jill Kelso, executive committeewoman for Georgetown County Republicans, has gathered GOP leaders from Charleston, Berkeley and Dorchester counties, as well as from around the state, to call Mosteller and her group’s conservative credentials into question.

Mosteller organized Republicans discontented with Haley, GOP nominee for governor and a state representative from Lexington. The group named itself Conservatives for Truth in Politics and secured tax exempt status as a nonprofit advocacy organization.

Haley faces Democrat Vincent Sheheen, a state senator from Camden, on Tuesday.

Kelso said Mosteller’s group sounds more like Democrats than Republicans. She also said the group’s tax status with the Internal Revenue Service should be questioned, because she believes they’ve gone too far in election-time politicking.

The IRS allows organizations that exists for social welfare advocacy and civil work, and not for profit, to earn coveted tax exempt status. These groups can lose their tax designation for excessive lobbying and political campaigning.

“They are right at home using their group to promote Vincent Sheheen and the Democratic Party,” Kelso said in a statement.

Standing with Kelso are local Republican Party officials including Lin Bennett, Charleston County chairman; Jerry Black, Dorchester County vice chairman; Jordan Bryngelson, Dorchester executive committeeman; Tim Callanan, Berkeley County chairman; Carroll Duncan, Dorchester County chairman; and Lanneau Siegling, Charleston County executive committeeman.

Also joining Kelso locally are Mark Lutz, former 1st District GOP congressional candidate; and Pat McKinney, Charleston businessman and Republican activist.

Mosteller said she and her group’s other founder, Clemson University professor and Republican strategist Dave Woodard, are to the “right” of the “right” when it comes to their political ideology. She said the group does not exist to promote Sheheen’s candidacy, but rather to force Haley to answer questions about her past.

Unanswered questions put the party’s credibility at stake, Mosteller said.

“I think that truth should be a bipartisan issue, but I have always considered it definitely a Republican issue,” Mosteller said.

Mosteller declined to provide information about her group’s donors or how much money they’ve raised. Their tax exempt status shields them from complete public disclosure.

Mosteller said she would protect the group’s donors’ identities so as to ensure they don’t face retributions for crossing the Republican Party or Haley, should she become governor.

Conservatives for Truth in Politics has produced and aired radio and television advertisements and plans to air more between now and Election Day, calling on Haley to provide more information about herself.

Kelso said “something’s fishy” with Mosteller’s group.

“Almost all of their efforts have been in the form of attacks on Nikki Haley,” she said. “Their primary purpose seems election-related to me.”

Read more in Saturday’s editions of The Post and Courier.