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.
In the failed GOP, a voice of decency: https://t.co/N6y3tCLn56
— Julia della Croce (@juliadellacroce) February 15, 2022
The letter by a former RNC chair and Republican governor of Montana should go viral. His outrage and eloquence is priceless. Rational minds within the GOP should take note and follow his capable lead. Problem is, there are too few rational minds left in today’s GOP. https://t.co/Sh6UmcIGT4
— Kathy Ivnik (@KathyIvnik) February 15, 2022
Said very well, and sums up my feelings perfectly. https://t.co/UIXJnMExzM
— Jerry Wiley (@Jerry5Wiley) February 15, 2022
What an absolutely fantastic letter by Mr. Racicot https://t.co/hcbBEFT36F
— Matt Franzenburg (@frazmatazz) February 15, 2022
This is spectacular coming from a former GOP governor of a very conservative state. Rare truth telling from GOP leadership, although not surprisingly it is far more common from former GOP leadership than current, which is telling. https://t.co/DMFm12pEPE
— Scott Frisbie (@scottfrisbie) February 14, 2022
Former RNC chair & MT Gov Marc Racicot’s letter to the RNC is worth reading.
The GOP is putting loyalty to a political party or candidate over allegiance to the Republic. #mtnews #mtpol https://t.co/Uk1lrw5iuy
— Montana Democratic Party (@MTDems) February 14, 2022
But few believe the RNC will change course.
I doubt The RNC has the capacity to read the letter, let alone act honorably on its admonishment. https://t.co/snwV43HqkE
— Gunga Dennerik (@GDennerik) February 14, 2022
This is nice but what the last half-dozen years have demonstrated is the legacy conservative media has neither power nor influence https://t.co/hTYWBUXewj
— The Abominable Dr. Vibes (@JimHenleyMusic) February 8, 2022
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.