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Tim Scott's 2022 Democratic opponent apologizes for 'Uncle Scott' comment in fundraising email

Election 2020 RNC (copy)

Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., speaks during the first night of the Republican National Convention from the Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium in Washington on Aug. 24, 2020. File/Susan Walsh/AP

A Democratic state lawmaker running against U.S. Sen. Tim Scott in next year's election apologized for calling the Republican "Uncle Scott" in a new fundraising email, claiming the message was not written or authorized by her. 

Krystle Matthews, a Black Democrat whose House district includes parts of Ladson, Goose Creek and North Charleston, sent out a fundraising email Sept. 29 criticizing Scott after Congress' bipartisan police reform effort crumbled last week. 

The subject line of the email reads "Bought and Paid for: Tim Scott." In the fundraising pitch, Matthews recalled watching Scott's appearance on CBS' "Face The Nation" over the weekend.

"After taking the time to watch, I can't help but think: 'Why is Uncle Scott killing the George Floyd Policing Act?,'" Matthews' email reads. 

The phrase is emblematic of a racist slur "Uncle Tom," which Scott has been called publicly before.

The insult is connected to Harriet Beecher Stowe's 1852 anti-slavery novel "Uncle Tom's Cabin," and is often used to demean Black people as being excessively obedient to White people and a traitor to their cultural allegiance. 

Matthews apologized for the language in the email after being contacted by The Post and Courier.

“I neither wrote nor approved the message that was distributed by my campaign yesterday. It does not represent me nor does it reflect our vision for South Carolina," she said in a statement provided by her campaign. "At the end of the day, however, it’s my name on the ballot so I am responsible and I’m taking the immediate and necessary steps to ensure it never happens again."

It was not immediately disclosed what those steps would be.

The email was upsetting to state GOP Chairman Drew McKissick, who said the attack on the lone Black Republican in the Senate is inappropriate.  

"Nothing smells of hypocrisy more than a Black Democrat using a racist dog whistle to attack a Black Republican," McKissick said. "If it were the reverse, she'd be accusing Sen. Scott of racism."

McKissick said the comment is an example of Democrats betraying their values. 

"I guess it is now OK to use racist dog whistles if it fits your liberal narrative," he said. 

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A campaign spokesman for Scott declined to comment on the email. 

After apologizing about the incident, Matthews took aim at Scott and former President Donald J. Trump.

"We hold ourselves and this campaign to the highest level of accountability," Matthews' message said. "But let’s be clear: Donald Trump perfected the racist dog whistle during his campaigns. But Sen. Scott and the S.C. GOP have yet to hold him accountable at all.”

Matthews' email came after Democratic U.S. Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey announced that both sides couldn't reach an agreement on several police reform issues. Scott was seen as the GOP point man for any bipartisan effort on the federal response.

Matthews separately told The Post and Courier earlier that Scott was trying to compromise on what she believed were non-negotiable terms in the reform package.

“Any so-called Justice Reform bill that doesn’t address qualified immunity, ignores the militarization of our police and fails to ban chokeholds and no-knock warrants, is just dodging the tough questions,” she said. “It’s like trying to make an apple pie without the apples and then pretending we don’t know the difference.”

Scott is no stranger to insults and has spoken out numerous times about facing racist comments and slurs during his political career. After he delivered the GOP rebuttal to President Joe Biden's first address to a joint session of Congress in April, the phrase "Uncle Tim" was trending on Twitter for hours. 

The next day on "Fox and Friends" Scott spoke out about the comments.

“Intolerance so often comes from the left with words like ‘Uncle Tim’ and the N-word being used against me by the left, and last night what was trending on social media was ‘Uncle Tim,’ ” Scott said at the time. “It is stunning in 2021 that those who speak about ending discrimination want to end it by more discrimination.”

Scott's elevated national standing has helped him raise more than $9.6 million in the second quarter of 2021, putting him at the front of the financial pack among senators across the country facing re-election next year.

He faces two announced Democratic challengers in 2022: Matthews and Spartanburg County Democratic Party Chairwoman Angela Geter.

Reach Thomas Novelly at 843-937-5713. Follow him @TomNovelly on Twitter. 

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