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RINO Fixers Are Part of the GOP’s Problem… Al D’Amato and Warren Tompkins wreak havoc, north and south.

February 26, 2009


Down in Dixie, frustrated Republicans complain about another smooth operator. J. Warren Tompkins is a successful South Carolina lobbyist and campaign operative. Conservatives argue that his good fortune has come at the expense of their beliefs, and that he has enriched himself through insider’s deals and arrangements that subvert limited government.

Palmetto State governor Mark Sanford, a stalwart and increasingly vocal advocate for limited government and fiscal sanity, told Human Events’s John Gizzi that “the bottom line in South Carolina is we absolutely have Republican control, but we do not have a conservative working majority in our body politic. . . . A lot of folks with whom we’ve indeed had troubles have not been pushing conservative ideology.”

Sanford blames “RINOs” [Republicans in Name Only] such as Tompkins’s client, state senate Finance Committee chairman Hugh Leatherman. Sanford described him as “a guy who for 25 years of his life is a Democrat, he sees the time changing, he shifts to the Republican party, but it is indeed in name only.”

Sanford specifically points to Tompkins as a problem. Tompkins, Sanford said, “long ago earned his stripes as a Republican. But Warren Tompkins these days makes his money as a lobbyist with issues before the state general assembly.”

“I don’t think Mr. Tompkins is interested in responding to the governor’s assessment of his political acumen,” Terry Sullivan, a partner in Tompkins’s campaign consultancy, says by phone. “One of our big clients is Sen. Jim DeMint — another RINO, I guess. The governor has his opinion, and he has his opinion.”

School-choice activists consider Tompkins a hurdle to their goals of expanding learning options for parents and children. “Tompkins has been unfriendly to the idea of school choice — absolutely,” says one Palmetto State political insider who requested anonymity. “I don’t know if he personally is against it, or if it’s just the people who pay his bills. In any state GOP primary, the candidate for whom he consults typically is the anti-choice candidate. That would be a very fair statement to make.”

Tompkins’s critics cite his longtime support for such liberal Republicans as former state legislators Bill Cotty and Adam Taylor. “None of them have ever met a spending increase they didn’t like, and all are violently opposed to long overdue, market-based reforms to our state’s last-in-the-nation public school system,” a local online commentator wrote in 2006.

“In the 2006 primary, there were two GOP candidates for state superintendent of education,” explained one well-placed Republican source. “Tompkins’s candidate was Bob Staton. He was decidedly pro-establishment, anti-choice, and he ended up losing to an upstate South Carolina businesswoman named Karen Floyd. She ended up losing in the general election” to Democrat Jim Rex.

Tompkins spearheaded former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney’s South Carolina campaign. Tompkins took public heat during the GOP presidential primary when a new website began attacking former senator Fred Thompson (R., Tenn.). PhoneyFred.org slammed Thompson as “FancyFred,” “MoronFred,” and “PlayboyFred.” “Once a Pro-Choice Skirt Chaser, Now Standard Bearer of the Religious Right?” the website asked.

The Washington Post’s Michael Shear discovered in September 2007 that the website was registered to “Under the Power Lines.” Records listed its address as 807 Gervais Street, Suite 202, in Columbia, S.C. That is the exact location of Tompkins’s First Tuesday Strategies, then called TTS Consulting. UPL’s then-phone number and its official contact e-mail both flowed into Tompkins’s office.

The website vanished soon after the Post began asking about it.

Tompkins represented Competitive Insurance Group LLC, formerly the Thomas Brown Agency. Despite its name, CIG enjoyed a lucrative, no-bid government contract for covering state property against wind damage between 1988 and 2007. Governor Sanford and GOP state senator Murrell Smith fought to open the contract to bidding. They succeeded, saving taxpayers at least $2 million annually.

“Speaking personally, as a taxpayer, I was shocked to find that this large contract was being awarded annually without any sort of competitive process,” former Government Accountability Committee chairman Chad Walldorf told Charleston Business Journal’s Dan McCue.

Like D’Amato, Tompkins seems adroit at planting his feet on both sides of controversies and contests. He simultaneously led the 1998 reelection campaign of former GOP governor David Beasley, a video-poker opponent, while lobbying for the state’s video-poker industry, which opened its coffers to beat Beasley. Tompkins’s video-poker client won, as his political client lost the race with just 45 percent of the vote.

The Palmetto Scoop reported that First Tuesday Strategies was on retainer last year with the State Senate Republican Caucus, for which it provided direct mail, Internet design, and strategic service. Meanwhile, Tompkins’s lobbying firm maxed out with a $5,000 donation to the State Senate Democratic Caucus last June. This takes bipartisanship to the level of conflict of interest.

“I don’t know if Warren’s a fallen angel, in that he once believed in the conservative creed, but now the guy does not seem to have a philosophical bone in his body,” laments one leading South Carolina Republican. “He is driven by the almighty dollar. If it swings to the left, he goes to the left. If it swings to the right, he goes to the right. If it swings Democrat, he goes Democrat. That is not the mark of a conservative. And I don’t believe that is the mark of a Republican.”    [And up north]

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. eric permalink
    February 26, 2009 5:43 PM

    Let me get this straight. Thompkins makes money through the political process of lobbying, just like Kevin Hall. The same guy who did the Anti-Fred Thompson website for Thompkins coincidentally did Kevin Halls site. Thompkins got DeMint to endorse Romney for President, now DeMint pops up as endorsing Kevin Hall. And the same mail firm that did mail for Thompkins’ candidate Staton, also is doing Kevin Halls mail. Now , we are suppose to believe Kevin Hall is not Thompkins’ candidate? Right!!

  2. February 26, 2009 6:01 PM

    Hmmm, this sounds vaguely familiar…

  3. F. Scott permalink
    February 26, 2009 6:46 PM

    Why all that is true, don’t be mad at Kevin Hall he is just another poor sap being used, for what he is worth by Tompkins. Just like Beasley ,The State Senate Caucus and Demint someday. Tompkins will use Kevin Hall (if Hall/Tompkins are crafty enough to pull the wool over GOP true believers eyes and get to elect Kevin chairman) to make the State Republican Party his play thing, rented out for lobbyist use, enrich himself and his friends and leave the Party bankrupt, if you don’t believe me just ask David Beasley he will tell you. Becoming one of Tompkins pawns is always about making money and giving power to Tompkins. Poor ole’ Kevin doesn’t know what he has gotten himself into.

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