EASLEY — A question and answer forum at Rep. Neal Collins’ political town hall meeting held on Tuesday got heated when attendees started playing hardball — right from the start.
“I just wanted to know if you though Governor McMaster was setting a good example for his constituents by being a member of a whites-only country club?” came the second question of the night from the crowd.
“My thoughts are if it’s true — I’m not a member of any club — but I personally would not. That is my choice,” said Collins. “But to answer your question straight forward, no. If that is an actual rule, no.”
Collins further stated that there had been other reports that the club in question didn’t expressly exclude African Americans in their rules, but that all memberships were subject to an approval process.
It was an issue that, with the Governor still in the building taking photos with guests in the next room, was broached several times throughout the night but never addressed by McMaster himself.
Pickens County Councilman Chris Bowers shared the stage with Collins, answering questions concerning economic development in the area.
“I don’t believe in doing away with our resources so we can have tourism,” Bowers said. “It’s got to be built in — a part of — that’s a direction I’d like to see us go and that’s a conversation we’re having.”
Also in attendance was former Republican candidate for S.C. Senate District 2 primary, Allan Quinn.
Quinn, who came in a distant fourth in the race that resulted in Rex Rice unseating long-time Sen. Larry Martin, dogged out Collins for the passage of the so-called “gas tax bill” — a bill that Collins continuously voted against.
“Mr. Quinn likes to say that I am ‘Mr. Pro Gas Tax guy’ and that I have flip-flopped and all sorts of things on social media,” Collins said. “But the simple fact is that it’s just not true.”
Collins called Quinn “confused” and insisted not only did he vote against the bill every step of the way, making the Department of Transportation a cabinet agency was “the very amendment” that he sponsored on the floor.
“It failed (the amendment) just like it did the year before by a vote 60-40,” he said. “I understand you want to make this argument, but it’s just not there.”
Collins said in his third year he was too young in that arena to become the defacto opposition leader to the roads bill — but that’s exactly what ended up happening.
Quinn continued to shout out questions throughout the night with Collins eventually deciding not to call on him anymore, at times straight out ignoring his waving hand and stating he would discuss the matter with him afterwards.
Reach Kasie Strickland at 864-855-0355.