Earlier today, Paul Teller was fired from his position as executive director of the Republican Study Committee (RSC). Congressman Steve Scalise (R-LA), who was installed as chairman of the RSC with encouragement from leadership accused Teller of collaborating with outside conservative groups to message against the tax and spend budget deal cut by Congressman Paul Ryan. This move is yet another indication that we have nothing in common with GOP leadership and that we need to find a new home for conservatism on Capitol Hill.
For over a decade, Paul Teller has been the conscience of conservatism on the Hill. He funneled in the light of truth from the conservative country class into the halls of Congress and the ruling class. He helped build the RSC into an intellectual conservative powerhouse, which served as the gold standard for conservative research and activism within the House conference.
However, over the years, the progressive wing of the party engaged in a quiet coup to co-opt the RSC. Once conservatives realized that the RSC was a key status symbol of conservatism, they expected all Republicans to become members. Many of the non-conservative Republicans decided to join the RSC just to give themselves cover. Eventually, the RSC grew to over 2/3ds of the entire GOP Conference.
Last year the chickens came home to roost during the election for a new RSC chairman. The founders and former chairs of the group selected Rep. Tom Graves (R-GA) to head the RSC in the 113th Congress. Steve Scalise challenged him in a membership election. With the support of leadership he won pretty handily. We supported Graves, and warned at the time that Scalise would deliver the RSC to the hands of leadership. But it was too late. They had already destroyed it from within by overwhelming the membership with ruling class Republicans.
Scalise wanted to get rid of Teller immediately, but that would have been to incendiary. So he got rid of most of his close staff. He waited for an opportunity like this to pull the trigger.
The establishment wanted to kill the RSC. Now that got their wish. It’s time for the remaining conservatives to form a new group and let the establishment own the RSC – without any conservative street cred from good members.
It’s sad that this conflict has broken out into full-scale civil war, but this moment has been festering for years. There can be no reconciliation between those who seek power for power’s sake and those who seek to serve in order to restore our Republic.