UPDATE: Smith County Democratic Party chair says accusations against him are ‘libelous;’ refuses to leave

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The chairman of the Smith County Democratic Party is pushing back against attempts to have him removed from office.

Michael Tolbert said accusations against him are “libelous” and that some in the party are using “mob rule tactics” to try and remove him.

Earlier this week, party members called for Tolbert’s immediate resignation and approved a resolution citing 21 instances of actions and behaviors by Tolbert that “are antithetical of Democratic Party values of honesty, inclusion, transparency, respect and unity to advance the party and its candidates.”

Tobert released the following statement to KETK on Thursday.

“Over the course of the last four years, America has encountered many challenges that have tested the concept of government Of the People, By the People, For the People. Winston Churchill once said, ‘Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others.’ Our political system rests upon the foundation of an informed electorate making rational decisions in the best interest of the majority.

“Two weeks ago, we witnessed what can happen when an emotionally charged segment of a group is manipulated by a sociopath with a selfish agenda. The extremists within the group created a spectacle that overshadowed those who legitimately care about public policy and achieving common goals. In the case of the looting and rioting that was planned and instigated at the Capitol on Jan. 6, a small segment of the group resorted to destruction and intimidation to avenge perceived losses. Elected official distorted facts and engaged in demagoguery for their own perverted pleasure and selfish gains.

“Unfortunately, there are people who claim to subscribe to all sorts of political persuasions who are not content to see the divisiveness and destruction impact the Republican party exclusively.

“The author of this manifesto and his co-conspirators are more intent on avenging their actual primary election losses and relitigating legal cases than they are about achieving the common goals and objectives of the Smith County Democratic Party. I understand how difficult it is for some of our neighbors to admit personal responsibility for their losses and failures. It is evident that the author, former president of The Democratic Club of Smith County (The Club,”) is bitter that his misguided efforts have not received sufficient praise to satisfy his needs.

“This saddens me. Much like the Big Lie that fueled much of the carnage on Jan. 6. … The SDEC committeeperson should be fully aware of the proper protocols to address any and all grievances. Deception to win at all costs will not be tolerated.

“The allegations in this manifesto are libelous. The co-authors and their co-conspirators have failed to achieve their agenda via many other means and channels, and have now resorted to mob rule tactics. There is a reason that they had their press release ready to publish within minutes of the conclusion of the County Executive Committee Meeting. As George Orwell noted in the novel, ‘1984,’ “Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past.”

“My commitment to electing representatives who will serve the People of Smith County by promoting Democratic values and principles has remained consistent for over 12 years. That is why I volunteered to serve as Chairman of the Smith County Democratic Party, and that is what I shall continue to do for all Smith County voters who value Democratic principles, because our democratic form of government is the best there is.”

In calling for the resignation of Tolbert, the resolution cited several grievances.

“One of the most concerning highlights is his sworn court testimony falsely representing CEC (County Executive Committee) approval of a primary runoff following the clear win by Sgt. Willie Mims for Constable Precinct 1 in March 2020. Amazing as it sounds, Mr. Tolbert as a Democratic leader disenfranchised 1,717 (51.21%) Democratic votes,” the statement said.

A majority of members voted in favor of the resolution demanding Tolbert to resign.

Tolbert sits in an elected position, and there are few ways to actually remove him from office. The Smith County Democrats in favor of the resolution are hoping that it will signal to Tolbert that it is time for him to resign.

In a letter signed by 38 members of the State Democratic Executive Committee, there were concerns about the lack of transparency in the finances of the Smith County Democratic Party.

The SDEC is the ruling body for the Texas Democratic Party. According to Nancy Nichols, one of the items addressed was a lack of transparency with finances.

Some members of the party said in the meeting that this is a different issue, saying that a racial divide has driven the idea of asking Tolbert to step down.

“I feel like ever since I got here, I haven’t been here this long, but all I see is a division. Let’s be blunt, black vs white, and it seems like most of the white people are always attacking Michael Tolbert,” Ambra Phillips said at the Tuesday meeting.

Melton Timmons said that he doesn’t think the group who is calling for his resignation has the right to dismiss someone that the county elected.

“If we still have this same attitude of disrespect, it’s not going to matter who the chairman is, we’re going to be right back at this point again,” Timmons said.

Tolbert posted this on his Twitter:

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