Earlier this month, the Republican National Committee—led by Chair Ronna McDaniel—voted to censure Republican U.S. Representatives Liz Cheney of Wyoming and Adam Kinzinger of Illinois.
The resolution claims Cheney and Kinzinger participated in conduct “not befitting Republican members of Congress.” No, they haven't been calling for a breakup of the United States, and, no, they're not at the center of a criminal investigation into the sex trafficking of a minor.
Their offense? Participating in the House Select Committee's investigation into the origins of the deadly failed insurrection against the United States Capitol last year—an attack that the RNC determined was "legitimate political discourse." The censure calls for a complete halt of “any and all support” for the two members of Congress.
Democrats have predictably decried the censure resolution, but it's even getting strong backlash from Republicans, including an ex-Republican National Committee Chair.
On Sunday, ex-RNC Chair and former Montana Governor Marc Racicot published an open letter to current RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel in the Billings Gazette, calling the occasion a "sad day."
He wrote to McDaniel:
"Having held the same position that you presently occupy two decades ago, I would never have imagined that the day would come when the chair of the Republican National Committee and its members would rebuke and desert two GOP members of the United States House of Representatives, who, consistent with the Constitution, their oath of office and their conscience, have been performing their assigned Congressional duties with honor and integrity pursuant to the lawful passage of a House Resolution."
He also issued a word of caution:
"It appears possible, and maybe even probable, that the RNC Resolution, with its incendiary language and histrionics, has advanced the very threat that you accuse Representatives Cheney and Kinzinger of creating, namely the diminution of the chances for Republican electoral success in 2022."
Racicot is far from the only Republican to publicly oppose the censure. He's not even the only former RNC chair to do so. Ex-chair Michael Steele called the censure a "pathetic act of cowardice." Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said it was "not the job of the RNC" to single out individual members of Congress for censure, and he was especially opposed to the characterization of the Capitol assault as "legitimate political discourse."
Even Senator Mitt Romney of Utah—McDaniel's own uncle—warned that "[s]hame falls on a party that would censure persons of conscience, who seek truth in the face of vitriol."
Social media users welcomed Racicot into the small but mighty conservative chorus opposing the RNC's censure.
But few believe the RNC will change course.
Kinzinger has announced that he won't be running for reelection, and Cheney—after being censured by her state's Republican party as well—faces her toughest reelection campaign in years.