The Charleston Meeting, Act I
By Thom G. Lenevar
SCHotline Lowcountry Correspondent
Consummate Republican insider and thespian Mallory Factor has built a new political stage in his Lowcountry home of Charleston, S.C. Factor, who New York Magazine once called “The ATM for Bush’s America,” arrived in Charleston after decamping Manhattan less than a decade ago. Despite his newcomer — or “come-yah” in Charlestonese — status, Factor has risen to a level of prominence in the state’s GOP circles that is usually reserved for good ’ol boys whose families have been part of the South’s social fabric for several centuries.
According to sources in Charleston, the “off-the-record, by-invitation-only” launch of The Charleston Meeting received just as much attention from Charlestonians and the state’s GOP elite as the gubernatorial debate Factor organized there earlier this year. That debate featured moderators Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzenzski, the cohosts of MSNBC’s Morning Joe program. As those in attendance may recall, it was managed by former Washington Republican lobbyist Jim Hirni.
FITSNews, which broke the story about “The Holy City Cabal,” suggested Factor’s success as an organizer of New York City’s premier gathering for Republican big wigs, The Monday Meeting, might have had something to do with the interest those deemed worthy enough to receive an invitation took in this new forum. For more information about The Monday Meeting see political reporter Ben Smith’s 2004 piece in The New York Observer titled “The Monday Meeting, A Right-Wing Cabal Ready to Convert N.Y.”
Also noted by FITS, The Charleston Meeting invitation list is so exclusive that neither outgoing S.C.GOP Chair Karen Floyd, nor outgoing S.C. Governor Mark Sanford, an old friend of Factor’s received invitations to the launch event.
A prominent political donor in Charleston sent SCHotline a copy of the same material leaked by FITSNews today. It reads:
[E-MAIL ADDRESS REDACTED]
MajGen James E. Livingston, USMC (Ret)
[E-MAIL ADDRESS REDACTED]
[E-MAIL ADDRESS REDACTED]
Michael S. Smith II
[E-MAIL ADDRESS REDACTED]
You are cordially invited to join The Charleston Meeting.
An off-the-record, by-invitation-only forum hosted in Charleston, S.C., The Charleston Meeting will facilitate important policy- and issue-focused exchanges between an exclusive group of business and civic leaders, conservative thought leaders, prominent political activists, and high-profile elected officials from state and federal levels of government.
There is no financial obligation to join The Charleston Meeting. To ensure the utmost discretion regarding your participation our membership list will not be shared with anyone, including our speakers and members of the Meeting itself.
Our first meeting will be hosted December 6, 2010 (6:30 – 7:30 p.m.). This meeting will take place in the Linguard Room at the French Quarter Inn (166 Church Street, Charleston, S.C.). A cocktail reception will follow the meeting downstairs in Tristan Restaurant.
The list of featured speakers for the December 6 meeting presently includes (in order of confirmation):
South Carolina State Treasurer-Elect
Shakedown 2011: The incoming Treasurer’s campaign to improve state government
South Carolina State Senator
S.C. Senate District 43, Berkeley and Charleston Counties
Accountability at the Budget and Control Board: Is there such a thing?
South Carolina State Representative
S.C. House District 110, Berkeley and Charleston Counties
What you should know about the State Infrastructure Bank
MajGen Robert E. Livingston, Jr., SCNG
South Carolina Adjutant General-Elect
Defend the Homeland: The Adjutant General’s Agenda for 2011
South Carolina State Senator
S.C. Senate District 37, Berkeley, Charleston, Colleton and Dorchester Counties
State of the Port: Infrastructure investments that will keep South Carolina’s economy afloat
Republican National Committeewoman for South Carolina
The 2012 First in the South Primary: Your big opportunity to pick the 45th American President
Due to the recent scheduling of Congressional Republican Caucus meetings in Washington on December 6 and 7, Mick Mulvaney and Tim Scott will not be able to attend this meeting. Both look forward to joining us as featured speakers during 2011. S.C. Attorney General-Elect Alan Wilson is also unable to join us as originally planned. He too looks forward to joining us at a later date.
Please RSVP to … Space will be limited. Please provide the names and e-mail addresses of any guests you wish to include.
Our source did confirm S.C. Sen Glenn McConnell was added to the speaker’s list at the last minute, making for a truly Confederate-styled cabal in a city known for a certain shot heard around the world. It was also reported that State Senator Chip Campsen, the so-called “cerebral monk” among South Carolina’s conservative thought leaders, quickly jumped off script. But, our source would not divulge the substance of his “sermon on the Monday night scene.”
For those of you who are unfamiliar with Mallory Factor, here are a few details: Presently a contributor to Forbes; former Fox [News Channel] Forum Columnist; Member of the Council on Foreign Relations; Reagan Appointee to the board of directors at the Federal Home Loan Bank; Listed as a Ranger on the G.W. Bush’s campaign site (ie raised more than $200,000 for the 43rd American President); Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff’s Economic Roundtable (uh, don’t ask; we don’t know either); Member of S.C. Treasurer-Elect Curtis Loftis’ Transition Team; Board Member at the Legislative Audit Council of the S.C. General Assembly. Get it?
MajGen James E. Livingston, United States Marine Corps (Ret) is a recipient of America’s highest military commendation, the Congressional Medal of Honor. Livingston is known to be a generous supporter of Republican politicians, including Congressman Joe Wilson, for whom the general offered endorsements in a commercial that was aired regularly across S.C.’s 2nd Congressional District in recent months. An autobiographical account of the general’s incredible life story is presented in a recently-published book titled Noble Warrior. Buy it!
Andrew Boucher is a former executive director of the New Hampshire Republican Party. He moved from Colorado to the Palmetto State during the past year, and was a volunteer for Tim Scott’s 2010 Congressional campaign. He is also a member of the Berkeley County Republican Party’s executive committee. Word has it he recently sold a political intelligence firm that catered to Colorado’s wealthiest conservative business leaders.
Michael S. Smith II is a former features writer and copy editor for the Evening Post Publishing Company’s shi-shi salmon-sheeted Charleston Mercury newspaper. Smith has spent most of his life in the South Carolina Lowcountry, and was a student at the prestigious Charleston-based Porter-Gaud School during his childhood years. While a student at the College of Charleston, Smith served as a fellow at The Free Enterprise Foundation, a conservative-leaning think-tank housed at The Citadel and managed by Robert E. Freer, Jr. (Freer is a former Washington insider who founded the Republican National Lawyers Association and wrote what became known as the Helms-Burton Act, which extended the embargo on trade with Cuba when signed into law by President William Jefferson Clinton. Freer’s also a member of the Loftis Transition Team.)
During recent years, Smith has contributed opeds to SCHotline — that’s us, and we know quite a bit about this cat. He has occasionally published political opinion pieces in The State, and has served as a book reviewer for the Charleston Post and Courier. As mentioned by FITSNews, during the fall of 2009, Smith served as a special investigator for S.C. Rep F.G. “Greg” Delleney, Jr. He produced a report titled “Regarding the Argentina Leg Governor Mark Sanford Ordered the South Carolina Department of Commerce to Add to South Carolina’s 2008 Trade Mission to Brazil” that was entered into the public record during the S.C. House Judiciary Impeachment Subcommittee’s hearings focused on determining whether the South Carolina governor’s controversial activities warranted impeachment. (This will make for an interesting atmospheric if FITS is right about Mark Sanford’s plans to attend a future meeting.)
Smith jumped off the radar earlier this year to, so we hear at least, do some work in the National Security sector, working for a private research institute engaged in terror-related investigative work. Along with Factor, Smith has found time to help Curtis Loftis as a member of the incoming treasurer’s transition team. He also supported Tim Scott’s and Congressman Joe Wilson’s campaigns during 2010. So he probably hasn’t been doing anything too incredibly spooky.
It has been rumored that when Factor decided to organize the state party’s big debate in Charleston earlier this year Smith helped out by inviting Karl Rove to serve as the moderator. However, due to a schedule conflict, Rove could not participate. Of course, “The Architect” was thus invited to deliver the keynote address for the S.C.GOP’s 2010 Silver Elephant Dinner, and Jim Hirni, who also helped Floyd organize this event, was credited with this “get.” Rumor also has it that due to the embarrassment caused Floyd by the missive Smith sent FITSNews during the S.C.GOP’s 2010 debate goings-on, Smith — who Floyd quietly attempted to block from admission to the Silver Elephant dinner — was not given a name tag which bore his name like most attendees of the state party’s biggest event in 2010. Perhaps that explains this.
As noted above, Smith has done some biz with SCHotline in the past. So we decided to call him to ask what the full story is. (Our founding editor would not even respond to our question of whether he was on the invitation list. “What meeting?” he replied.) But Smith didn’t have much to say, other than to point out that Will Folks clearly understands what the co-founders of The Charleston Meeting plan to do with this new forum. The rest of his explanation was a tad wonkish and more than just a bit beyond our comprehension. We did understand the bit he dished about providing members a chance to “change the world.” Funny choice of words, O? But seriously, we did not get the impression President Obama will be invited, either.
When we attempted to contact the meeting’s organizers using an e-mail address that was redacted above for your safety, a pair of men donning dark suits and Ray-Ban wayfarer sunglasses came knocking on our door. … Just kidding.
Anywho … According to our spies, The Charleston Meeting is attracting a lot of attention from Republican Members of Congress and high-profile national conservative figures. Although Smith would not comment on the matter, President and Founder of Americans for Tax Reform Grover Norquist is said to be among the speakers confirmed to participate in the next Charleston Meeting, which is scheduled to take place on January 24, 2011. (Would somebody please tell us where should be, or what we have to do to meet Grover Norquist! I mean, how much more timely can you get than that. Pretty please!)
Norquist also happens to be the founder of The Wednesday Meeting, an exclusive forum hosted in Washington, D.C. that, according to our sources in New York, provided a model for both The Monday Meeting and, ostensibly, The Charleston Meeting.
S.C. Rep Bobby Harrell, the Speaker of the S.C. House of Representatives, is also rumored to be on the speakers list.
It remains to be seen whether this team of usual and not-so-usual suspects can harness the interests Republican presidential campaign operatives usually take in South Carolina during the state’s First in the South Primary. Given Factor’s track record, we’re betting it won’t take much to deliver members of The Charleston Meeting access to the GOP’s top 2012 Presidential Candidates. But if we’re wrong, maybe Hirni — who our spies in Columbia have fingered as the man behind Rick Santorum’s Palmetto State presidential field ops — will toss them a bone.
Would they bite? We’ll keep you posted … If we ever get invited.