COLUMBIA, S.C. (WMBF) – The South Carolina GOP has formally censured U.S. Rep. Tom Rice over his impeachment vote.
About two weeks ago, Rice was one of 10 Republicans to vote in favor of impeaching President Donald Trump who is accused of inciting a deadly riot at the U.S. Capitol.
After that vote, a letter and potential resolution to censure the congressman at the grassroots level started forming in South Carolina 7th Congressional District. That resolution made it all the way to the State Executive Committee for a vote.
At a quarterly meeting on Saturday, the SCGOP State Executive Committee passed the resolution to formally censure Rice. A censure is a formal statement of disapproval.
While the censure is a symbolic measure, it is rare for the party to invoke one on a sitting Congressman.
“We made our disappointment clear the night of the impeachment vote. Trying to impeach a president, with a week left in his term, is never legitimate and is nothing more than a political kick on the way out the door,” said SCGOP Chairman Drew McKissick. “Congressman Rice’s vote unfortunately played right into the Democrats’ game, and the people in his district, and ultimately our State Executive Committee, wanted him to know they wholeheartedly disagree with his decision.”
Rice has faced harsh backlash from the GOP but he has stated multiple times that he doesn’t regret his vote to impeach.
“I did the right thing, I know I did the right thing,” Rice told WMBF News on Saturday following the vote from the SCGOP. “It’s interesting to me that folks are so willing to let this guy put all these people in danger, get six people killed, just watch the Capitol police get beaten, one to death, while he watches it on TV and does nothing to stop it. I’m not that much of a team player just because I run as a Republican.”
Rice added that he’s been on the fence about how he should vote many times throughout his time in Congress, but added, this wasn’t one of those votes.
“It would have been so easy, it would have been really easy for me to press ‘No’ on that impeachment article like most every other Republican did, and nobody would have said a word. But I know that was the wrong thing,” Rice added.
Rice said ahead of the meeting from the SCGOP, he tried to contact the state party. He said no one notified him of the meeting, and he heard about it through the news. Rice said the party did not return his call.
Rice added that he’s supported the former president heavily, and said his record shows it. He said he understood a vote to impeach Trump would be controversial to many in District 7.
South Carolina State Rep. William Bailey who represents District 104 in Horry County called the censure of Rice a historic one.
“Today the South Carolina Republican Party took an historic vote, to censure Republican Congressman Tom Rice. Never before has this unprecedented action been taken against a congressman with all but two Executive Committee members voting for censure. When Congressman Tom Rice joined only nine other Congressman to impeach President Donald Trump, he showed the people of his district and South Carolinians across the state that he no longer represents their interests,” Bailey said in a statement.
Bailey announced a few days ago that he is forming an exploratory committee to possibly go up against Rice and take his seat. The Horry County representative said he has received hundreds of calls, emails and text messages encouraging him to run against Rice.
Horry County School Board Chairman Ken Richardson, former Myrtle Beach Mayor Mark McBride are also looking into the possibility of running against Rice.
Rep. Tom Rice’s full statement on the censure:
I have been a strong and loyal supporter of the South Carolina Republican Party for more than a decade. I have stood with them, campaigned with them, provided their candidates resources, and been in their corner through thick and thin. Since being elected to Congress, I’ve contributed more than $2 million to our national Party to help Republican candidates for Congress.
In Washington, I fought together with President Trump to cut taxes on small businesses, invest in new infrastructure, adopt an America First Trade policy, build our border wall, stop new restrictions on guns, and pass the historic 2018 Farm Bill. Together, and because of President Trump’s leadership, America has seen historic economic growth and we have experienced countless other historic achievements. To accuse me of not supporting President Trump is to ignore my 94% pro-Trump voting record.
My vote to impeach President Trump was no reflection on his policies, his effectiveness, his accomplishments, nor my conservative values and voting record. It was a vote to honor my oath of office. That oath was not to Chairman McKissick, nor to the S.C. Republican Party, nor to President Trump. That oath, sworn to on the Bible, was to protect and defend our Constitution.
I personally witnessed an insurrection in the Capitol on Jan. 6. I saw the rioters who were demanding to hang Vice President Pence. I heard the gunshots and smelled the tear gas. I was on Capitol Hill when the Capitol Police were overrun and Officer Sicknick gave his life, at the hands of this mob, to honor the oath he took to defend our Constitution. I saw, as we all did, the President’s lack of leadership in not stopping the mob, his callous actions saying Mike Pence had no courage, and his comments, in the middle of riot, that “These are the things that happen when victory is viciously stripped from these great patriots…remember this day forever.”
To President Trump: those weren’t “patriots” who killed Officer Sicknick. And threatening to hang our Vice President on makeshift gallows on the Capitol lawn is not something that just “happens”. You could have swiftly and forcefully intervened to stop the deadly siege on the United States Capitol and you did not.
To my friends in the S.C. Republican Party: I will not stand idly by, and ignore the oath I took before God, when the evidence is so clear. President Trump bears much of the responsibility for that attack. I cannot ignore this blatant violation of our constitution, regardless of whether the President is a Republican or a Democrat, or regardless of his name being Donald Trump. It seems my friends at the South Carolina Republican Party have fogotten their very own creed which states, “I will never cower before any master, save my God.”
I was provided no notice of the meeting today. To Chairman McKissick and numerous other members of your State Executive Committee, had you returned my call, I would have told you that I have no ill-will towards the S.C. Republican Party and will continue to advance our shared values, to create opportunity for all.