Winslow quits TNGOP: ‘Our soul rotted away some time ago’

Mark Winslow, former chief of staff for the Tennessee Republican Party, resigned Thursday as a member of the state GOP Executive Committee in a letter posted on Twitter, reports Nashville Post Politics.

“As it’s currently constituted, TNGOP is really nothing more than a small corrupt core group who view our party as their private club and personal piggy bank,” wrote Winslow. “Our soul rotted away some time ago.”

Winslow confirmed that his timing was no coincidence: After losing his job and suing the party and surviving several attempts to kick him off the SEC, he wanted declare his independence in concordance with the national holiday.

“I’ve actually wanted to quit for three years,” Winslow says. “It’s a relief. It’s time for someone else to step in.”

Winslow said his resignation had nothing to do with the battle over delegates for presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump, nor over a bylaw likely to come before the SEC at its next meeting in August that would automatically remove SEC members from the committee if they have ever worked for a Democrat running for office, which Winslow did.

“They’ve tried to change the bylaws a few times regarding me, and it’s never worked,” Winslow said. “It wouldn’t have worked this time, either.”

But other SEC members — all of whom were surprised by the sudden resignation, though most declined to comment on record — said Winslow would not have kept his position past August, nor were they upset to see him go.

“Good riddance to bad rubbish!” SEC secretary Christi Cross said. “My hope is that a bona fide Republican, with a commitment to the party and its platform, will be appointed to fill his term.”

The state GOP office declined comment, saying they still hadn’t officially received notice of Winslow’s resignation. Winslow said this was intentional on his part, because the party “stopped communicating” with him “long ago.”

“Really, this is a very happy time for me,” Winslow said. “It was the right time for me to do something other than dealing with the bickering of the state executive committee.”

With or without Winslow, the “bickering” on the SEC seems likely to continue throughout the primary and at least until the August board meeting.

Note: TNGOP Chairman Ryan Haynes notified SEC members that he had accept the resignation, but had no comments on Winslow’s remarks. Says Haynes letter to the committee:

As many of you are aware, Mark Winslow has publicly communicated his resignation from the State Executive Committee. I am accepting that resignation effective immediately. We wish him well with his important work with veterans for Judge Blackburn.

Per the Bylaws of the Tennessee Republican Party, I will appoint a special subcommittee to make a recommendation to the full SEC for a new male representative of the 19th District.

I hope each of you has a happy and safe Independence Day.

Text of Winslow’s resignation letter is below.

In the year 1519, Spanish Conquistador Hernan Cortés scuttled his ships in the new world to prove a point to his men… no turning back. That’s an odd reference in this context but very appropriate right now. Eliminating the possibility of turning back once you’ve made a decision is very liberating.

My state political party is beyond salvage. There’s no joy in making that statement, but it’s true.

At least it is for the time being. Oh, sure, we are drifting along on inertia, collecting PAC checks and distributing the money to favored candidates or using the money to pay staffers to take out those who are not favored. Our state party leaders and staff shrug their shoulders and say “so what, do something about it” when it’s pointed out they are breaking the rules. We pat ourselves on our collective supermajority and claim that legislative status absolves every wrong deed.

Our soul rotted away some time ago.

As it’s currently constituted, TNGOP is really nothing more than a small corrupt core group who view our party as their private club and personal piggy bank. Money is passed around, doled out to friends, handed to favored consultants and staffers who ignore bylaws or common sense. Rules are arrogantly and routinely broken by officers and staff with no consequence or accountability. Largely because around this small core, there is a layer of protection forged by SEC members who either participate in corruption, look the other way or fear speaking up will result in the loss of their own status – such as it is.

By now, you’ve probably figured out my purpose in writing this. It’s time for me to resign from the State Executive Committee. Part of life is knowing when chapters have come to a conclusion. This chapter of mine has been closing for some time now. A new one has opened with a job I love and a whole new set of exciting challenges as we work to help Nashville’s Veterans in distress.

Am I leaving now because we can’t get our ethical act together? No, not really.

Wrongdoing in the TNGOP has really become commonplace the last few years. So stories of staff collecting obscene amounts of TNGOP cash while working to defeat conservatives is neither new nor shocking. It’s no different than party officials creating secret PACs to target SEC members and candidates they don’t like or a confidential personnel file finding its way into TV ads.

I came to understand a long time ago that if you want to make a real difference, the SEC is the last place you should hang your hat. It’s great if you need an empty title to validate yourself, but that’s never been my thing. I’ve been looking for the right exit moment for years and now it’s here – on my terms. If you won the game, why the hell keep playing? Three times I stared down efforts to vote me out or kick me off and three times I won. I proved my point. I survived. Now it’s time to go.

None of this is to say I’m done. There are good conservatives out there, doing the right thing for the right reasons. They deserve support and I’m always happy to help if needed or asked.

I do owe a thank you to the Republicans of the 19th District. You honored me with your support three times. I don’t know most of you and likely never will, but I appreciate your trust. I’ve always fought for the average Republican who, like me, just got involved to make a difference only to end up a target of the rich and powerful. Hopefully, I fought with integrity. I encourage you to stand your ground and speak your piece. It’s not as scary as you’d think and you might even light up a ship or two you learned you didn’t need.

When you do, it’s a relief to know there’s no turning back.