My Exile From “Bona Fide” GOP Status (Op-Ed)

By Mark Pulliam [Misrule of Law] –

In the August 2022 primary, I ran unopposed as a write-in candidate for a seat on District 2 of the Tennessee Republican Party’s State Executive Committee, and won, with 302 write-in votes. The Tennessee Secretary of State certified me as the winner.

Based on behind-the-scenes machinations by the local political establishment (who pose as Republicans but fail to govern as such), the TRP nullified my election in a farcical show trial (conducted via Zoom call) and subsequently appointed a crony to fill my seat. The basis for my nullification was that I–a lifelong GOP voter and activist–am purportedly not a “bona fide” Republican. I was exiled. Invalidated as a Republican. Banished to persona non grata status. But I continue to receive fundraising solicitations from the TRP!

Here is my response to the latest one.

Re: 2023 Sustaining Membership Appeal

Brittany Montgomery

Finance Director

Dear Ms. Montgomery:

I received in yesterday’s mail a fundraising solicitation from the TRP signed by Chairman Scott Golden, urging me to renew my Sustaining Membership in the TRP. The letter informs me that “you are an indispensable member of our winning team.”

Unfortunately, there must be a mistake. I wish I could be part of the team, but I have been cut.  Sadly, the TRP has determined that I am not a “bona fide Republican.”  As Scott Golden knows, the TRP team has very exacting standards that—to my eternal shame– I do not meet.  Mr. Golden himself led the inquisition, ratified by a bare quorum of the SEC, officially declaring me to be  whatever the opposite of “bona fide” is—illegitimate? An imposter?  Who am I to question that verdict?

I don’t want to donate money under false pretenses, so I will decline the solicitation.

I must admit, as a lifelong GOP voter (since 1976) who was active in GOP politics in Texas (when it was still a Democratic state!), California (where I was an ally of state party chair Shawn Steel), and even in Blount County, it hurt me to learn that I was mistaken in believing that I was a Republican. My whole life has been a lie, I suppose. Having my picture taken with President Ronald Reagan at a GOP fundraiser was apparently a ruse!

Voting in every GOP primary for nearly the past 50 years doesn’t cut it. Donating thousands of dollars to GOP candidates, the RNC, College Republicans, and Republican elected officials doesn’t cut it. Serving as a precinct chair in Travis County, Texas, and as a delegate to the GOP state convention in Texas doesn’t cut it. Serving as an officer in Republican groups and receiving a “Man of the Year” award from Congressman Darrell Issa doesn’t cut it. Forming a conservative group (in the absence of a functioning local Republican Party) that has hosted Congressman Tim Burchett, State Reps. Jerome Moon and Bryan Richey, and other GOP officials doesn’t cut it. Appearing on Life, Liberty & Levin and Fox & Friends doesn’t cut it. Speaking at a meeting of the Blount County Republican Women (where I was an associate member) doesn’t cut it.  Walking precincts, watching polls, phone banking for Ted Cruz’s initial Senate run, running finance committees—all for naught. Well, I tried.

If Tennessee has higher standards than Texas and California, so be it. (I guess that’s why Tennessee lets Democrats vote in the Republican primary–to make the GOP stronger?) I suppose it just wasn’t meant to be. Sorry.

Also, the TRP surely doesn’t want to receive donations from someone that Tyler Burns, your Political Director, has (according to Scott Golden) called a liar. I know that Mr. Burns told me that the $100 candidate registration fee for the SEC did not apply to write-in candidates whose name would not appear on the ballot. Scott Golden informs me that Mr. Burns denies making that statement—and silly me did not insist on getting Mr. Burns’ response in writing.  (Getting things “in writing” must be an element of “bona fide” status and I just didn’t get the memo. My bad.)  So my election was nullified—along with the write-in votes of 302 Republicans in District 2. But at least the TRP supports “election integrity”!

Under the circumstances, it would be unbecoming of me to send you a check. So I will mail a check instead to my GOP Congressman, Tim Burchett, whose standards are apparently less rigorous than yours.

So, Ms. Montgomery, I will spare you the indignity of taking money from someone so unworthy to contribute to your efforts. I thought I should explain myself “in writing” because that is how the TRP seems to roll.

Have a good day.


Mark Pulliam

About the Author: Mark Pulliam writes from East Tennessee. A Big Law veteran, he retired as a partner in a large law firm after practicing for 30 years. A contributing editor to Law & Liberty since 2015, Mark also blogs at Misrule of Law. He considers himself a fully-recovered lawyer.

6 thoughts on “My Exile From “Bona Fide” GOP Status (Op-Ed)

  • January 13, 2023 at 7:30 pm

    That was fantastic! Scott Golden, whom I do not know, sounds like a real piece of work with an ax to grind. Mr. Pulliam has better Republican credentials than the majority of Tennessee’s current legislators! Looks like the RINOS win again. Tennessee is indeed a red state, a very pale red state.

  • January 14, 2023 at 4:03 pm

    I believe it’s an issue of control. You were accepted as a candidate, ran unopposed, won & were certified as the winner. You’re a lawyer so you should know if you have a good case. If I were you, I would take it to whatever court is appropriate because this seems like dirty politics to me.

  • January 14, 2023 at 6:52 pm

    The TN GOP/SEC claimed there was a problem – that Mark Pulliam did not pay the $100 fee to run as a GOP candidate. However, Mr. Pulliam as specifically told he did not need to do so as a write in candidate. Whether the TN GOP staff worker misspoke or not, Mr. Pulliam could only go by what he was told. smh This is yet another embarrassment to the TN GOP!

    More problematic is that fact that many of the SEC did not pay a fee to run for SEC and yet were on the ticket, elected and their election was accepted.

    One explanation that has been given is that the SEC candidates did not need to pay the fee because they donated to the TN GOP prior to registering as a candidate, earlier in the year prior to filing to run for office/SEC.

    –>>If that is the case, then why was did *anyone* need to pay a fee to run *if* they had donated an amount equal or greater to that required as a fee earlier in the year prior to filing to run as a candidate?
    –>>Why was this option to not pay a fee if one had donated an equal or greater amount earlier in the year not made public?
    –>>Why was that just applied to the insiders, to the SEC incumbents?

    Some say it is because the SEC volunteer their time in an unpaid position. 100% Irrelevant as all county party officers are unpaid as are countless volunteers who make up the workers of the county parties and who work countless hours to get Republicans across the state elected. If volunteering X number of hours for the Republican Party in TN can be substituted for the TN GOP fee to run for office then that needs to be applied to all seeking to run for office, not just the TN GOP SEC.

    The TN GOP SEC created the fee to run for office and applied it to all but themselves. If they do not want to pay the fee then they can exempt themselves or make the exemption of substituting previous donations &/or previous volunteer hours applicable to ALL.

    Many Republicans across the state did not want the fee to run for office but the SEC passed it anyway, against the grassroots’s wishes/recommendations. They either need to remove the fee, remove themselves from the fee or make the exceptions public, transparent & available to everyone. Or they could live up to the bylaws that they created.

    Most importantly, removing Mr. Pulliam due to lack of fee when many of the SEC themselves did not pay the fee is appalling and further evidences the the TN GOP SEC using the TN GOP Bylaws in a biased way to further they own political purposes for insiders they like and against outsiders they don’t like.

    Elected by the people? Denied due to bylaws while the one’s doing the denying did not follow their own bylaws – corrupt and disgusting. Elected by the people denied by the insiders who then appointed an insider that they wanted in the office OVER the person for whom the voters voted???!!!! Corrupt & SHAMEFUL …

    This kind of bylaw and insider abuse hurts the name of the TN GOP Party and discourages participation at all levels of the Republican party of conservative Tennesseans.

    TN GOP – Please Stop it!

  • January 14, 2023 at 8:00 pm


    The TN GOP SEC is made up of 66 members (2, 1 male and 1 female, from each of our 33 state senate districts). They are elected at the ballot box during the August Republican Primary in every mid election cycle/non presidential year cycle. They are elected for a 4 yr term.

    We, The People, elect them.

    We, The People, are responsible for the SEC members in office right now.

    The silver lining of the 2018-2022 SEC group calling attention to their secret meetings, refusing to seat a duly, legally elected SEC committeeman and repeatedly breaking their own bylaws (not giving $100 annually to be a Capital Club member, not paying a fee to run on the GOP ballot, etc.)? More people are now aware of who the SEC are, what they do and how one becomes an SEC committeeman/woman and are preparing to run for that office in 2024 & 2026.

    We, the conservative voters, donors and volunteers of TN, are the Republican Party of TN. The 66 SEC members are elected to represent us in the official business and decisions of the TN Republican Party. Some of the 66 seem to think that they, the 66, are the Republican Party rather than merely volunteering to do the work of the party and to represent the rest of us.

    We, the conservative voters of TN MUST take responsibility for what are the TN Republican Party SEC and party officers are doing, how they are voting and who they are because who the SEC members are is 100% up to us – we must encourage quality, qualified candidates to run and to make sure all “i”s are dotted and all “t”s are crossed. Then we either run or volunteer to help those who do run.

    If we are not involved in getting people to run, in running ourselves, in helping quality candidates get elected, if we don’t even know who are SEC members are and how they are voting … then commenting and or being upset with the SEC is misplacement of energy! We can take responsibility, get involved and change the TN GOP SEC for the better!

    Let their egregious disrespect for TN Conservative Voters and our grassroots Republicans motivate us rather than discourage us.

  • January 14, 2023 at 8:12 pm

    Mark Pulliam – Thank you so much for stepping up to run for the Republican Executive Committeeman for your area when you realized that no one else had been willing to do so and the ticket was blank. Takes courage to run for office and conservatives should be encouraged and applauded when they are willing to step in the ring as no matter how much support one receives its still up to the man in the ring … and it can be a lonely place!

    Nothing in the bylaws said against running as a write in so why did the Republican Executive Committee deny your voters and your lawful election, right? smh Just another backroom deal is what it looks like to the grassroots voters – especially when they did not honor the voter’s wishes and appoint you!

    The good news is that the person appointed to your position to which you were elected lawfully by all laws of the state has to run for the office on the ballot in 2024 rather than serve out the full 4 yr term. By next April, you could again be on the ballot if you choose to run and I hope you do. Give the voters a choice between who they elected in 2022 and who the SEC choose to appoint in 2022!

    And he or the winner will be back up for election in 2026 along with all elected Executive Committee committeemen and women. We need people willing to run for this office who care about the largest segment of the Tennessee Republican Party – the grassroots voters!

    Note: Current TN GOP Bylaws as found on (as long as they uphold these bylaws or they are not changed in the mean time … fingers crossed), “B. A member of the SEC who is elected {by the SEC} to fill a vacancy shall serve until the next regular August primary election, at which time a successor shall be chosen by the voters of the Senatorial District in question.”

  • January 23, 2023 at 10:14 pm

    ole marky is still salty about losing an uncontested race. 🙂 Him losing should tell you everything you need to know about this guy, no one likes him. He came to the area and immediately started telling everyone how we are doing it wrong, how he knows better and we are all stupid hillbillys .


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