The president of the nation's largest civil rights organization said newly appointed Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) does not believe in civil rights and went on to criticize the GOP for alienating moderate Republicans who support their positions.
Benjamin Jealous, the NAACP's national president appeared on CNN Wednesday night. When asked if he was critical of Scott because of his party affiliation, he said it was primarily the senator's record on civil rights.
"No, look we have Republicans who believe in civil rights. Unfortunately, he is not one of them," said Jealous. "And unfortunately, his party has really gone after so-called 'RINOS' as they call them, these Republicans who believe in civil rights again and again."
The NAACP leader focused on Scott's "F" rating during his tenure in the House, comparing him to white congressman who routinely receive high marks on the organization's report card.
"You know, for us it's always about what's in folks' hearts," Jealous said. "We have people like Congressman Cohen out of Memphis, white congressman, who gets an 'A' on our report card, and we have congressman like Senator Tim Scott, who is black, gets an 'F' on the report card every year … But when I look at him, I say quite frankly as one of my old coaches would say about me at a sport I wasn't so good at, he has nothing but potential. There is nothing but room for him to improve, and we would hope that he would not continue to get F's on the NAACP report card."
But Chad Connelly, chairman of the South Carolina Republican Party, was taken aback by Jealous' comment and said anyone that truly knew Tim Scott would never make such a statement.
"I think it's sad that an organization that labels itself as the nation's premier civil rights organization would attack a man of Tim Scott's character," Connelly told The Christian Post.
"Sen. Scott's appointment to the United States Senate is an unprecedented, historic event and we should all take pride in his service. It simply amazes me that such irresponsible comments would be made simply because Sen. Scott has upheld the values of his district and now his state. Tim's an upstanding Christian man and anyone of any race or background should be honored he is their public servant."
An article on Breitbart.com makes the case that the NAACP's report card has little to do with civil rights, and focuses mainly on measuring policies advocated by the Democratic Party.
Examples of some key votes include enforcement of union-backed Davis-Bacon provisions mandating only union labor be used on federal construction contracts, repealing funding of health care reform, cutting funding for Planned Parenthood, voting against a balanced budget amendment and voting for certain Democrat nominees for cabinet level offices.
South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley (R) appointed Scott to replace Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), who resigned to accept a position with The Heritage Foundation.
Interestingly, both Scott and Haley – who is the state's first Indian-American governor, are considered to be people of "color." Scott is black and Haley is Indian.
This wasn't the first time the civil rights organization has spoken out against Scott. Soon after he was appointed, Hilary Shelton, NAACP senior vice president for advocacy and policy, told The Daily Caller he expected the South Carolina politician to work against the group.
"Mr. Scott certainly comes from a modest background, experience, and so forth, and should be sensitive to those issues," said Shelton, referring to Scott's impoverished single-parent upbringing in Charleston, S.C. "Unfortunately, his voting record in the U.S. House of Representatives raises major concerns."
Connelly also disagrees with Shelton's assessment and believes Scott will easily win re-election to a full Senate term. "I'll put Tim Scott's background, experience and character up against anyone. We're proud of the job he is doing and look forward to his service to our state."