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Volunteer exits Haley campaign group after accusations of racism

By JAMIE SELF
jself@thestate.com

Roan Garcia-Quintana, one of the 164 co-chairs of Gov. Nikki Haley’s grass-roots political organization, resigned Sunday at the request of the Republican’s re-election campaign.

Haley’s campaign had been criticized by civil-rights groups and Democrats for the role played by Garcia-Quintana, who they said has ties to a white nationalist group.

The campaign initially stood by Garcia-Quintana. But Sunday the campaign said it requested his resignation, which was offered and accepted, because it was “previously unaware” of some of Garcia-Quintana’s comments.

In articles published online at thestate.com Friday and in Saturday’s editions of The State, Garcia-Quintana said he supported racial purity.

“The Haley for Governor Grassroots Advisory Committee today asked volunteer Roan Garcia-Quintana to resign from our 164-member volunteer committee,” Tim Pearson, a political advisor for Haley, said in a statement Sunday.

“While we appreciate the support Roan has provided, we were previously unaware of some of the statements he had made, statements which do not well represent the views of the governor. There is no place for racially divisive rhetoric in the politics or governance of South Carolina, and Governor Haley has no tolerance for it.”

In an interview with The State on Thursday, Garcia-Quintana denied that he or the Council of Conservative Citizens, which civil-rights groups have labeled a white nationalist group, were racist, saying the council “supports Caucasian heritage.”

Garcia-Quintana said he is on the board of directors of the council.

“Is it racist to be proud of your own heritage?” Garcia-Quintana asked. “Is it racist to want to keep your own heritage pure?”

Talk of Garcia-Quintana’s ties to the Council of Conservative Citizens started circulating at the State House on Tuesday, when Garcia-Quintana, director of the anti-immigration Americans Have Had Enough Coalition, appeared to speak against a federal immigration proposal that would give illegal immigrants a pathway to citizenship.

Haley’s campaign initially rebuffed calls to dismiss Garcia-Quintana made by legislative Democrats on Friday, noting his support for Haley, the state’s first Indian-American governor.

On Saturday, presumptive 2014 Democratic gubernatorial candidate Vincent Sheheen, a state senator from Camden, called for Garcia-Quintana to be removed, citing his comments about racial purity.

The Haley camp responded Saturday by saying Sheheen had no right to criticize Haley and accusing him of previously “condoning racial attacks on South Carolina’s first minority governor.”

In announcing Garcia-Quintana’s resignation Sunday, Haley’s campaign said, “Regrettably, Vince Sheheen and the leadership of the South Carolina Democratic Party do not share” Haley’s condemnation of “racially divisive rhetoric,” citing instances where it said Democrats – including state Senate Democratic Caucus political director Phil Bailey, former S.C. Democratic Party chairman Dick Harpootlian and others – had made racially charged statements about Haley.

State Sen. Joel Lourie, a Richland Democrat, said Sunday that Haley was “continuing to point the finger at other people and cry foul. She needs to offer an explanation for why she stood by a man who has spent his career fighting to keep the Caucasian heritage ‘pure.’ ”

According to his campaign, Sheheen’s response to Garcia-Quintana’s resignation was: “Finally.”

Reach Self at (803) 771-8658.
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