Home Career Gunn dropped a fundraiser for former Democrat Shanda Yates

Gunn dropped a fundraiser for former Democrat Shanda Yates

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After a backlash from House Republicans, Speaker Philip Gunn and Speaker Pro Tem Jason White pulled out of hosting a fundraiser for former Democratic Rep. Shanda Yates, now an independent.

On Thursday, Gunn and White wrote a statement of their guilt at a meeting of the House of Representatives of the Republican Party. In their memo, they said, “We believe she is considering joining our party, and we hope she will,” and said they agreed to help her raise funds to get her to join the Republican Party. They said Yates “voted Republican most of the time, which got her kicked out of the Democratic Party.”

But Gunn and White, who participated in the fundraiser, angered many Republican House members who said Yates still votes heavily Democratic and has the support of some liberal groups. In their memo, House GOP leaders acknowledged that “Shanda certainly has some liberal ideas and has cast some liberal votes.”

“In retrospect, as your chosen speaker and protector, we should not have agreed to host the reception unless she changed party affiliation,” Gunn and White wrote. “… due to the reservations we have expressed to many of you, we have informed Shanda that we will not be able to host or attend a reception for a candidate who is not a member of the Republican Party.”

READ MORE: Mississippi Democrats have lost a promising congressional candidate, Shanda Yates. What now?

Yates did not immediately respond to a request for comment Friday about whether she was considering switching to the Republicans.

Rep. Becky Curry, R-Brookhaven, took to social media Thursday to accuse Gunn and White of planning the fundraiser, writing, “The world has been turned upside down!”

“Republican Speaker of the House and Pro-Tem raise money for the most liberal members of the House,” Curry wrote. “She voted against the pro-life abortion bills and the Fairness Act, which keeps men out of women’s sports… The speaker informed the lobbyist (sic) to send money to him, not to legislators, so we can run for re-election, and he will decide how and on whom the money will be spent. I think it’s his choice.”

On Thursday, members of the Mississippi Freedom Caucus, which includes a small group of conservative House members, issued a press release calling on “Gann and White to disavow liberal Shanda Yates.”

“Yates, who defeated longtime Republican Bill Denny, ran on a far-left progressive platform,” the release said. “… During her time in the legislature, Yates authored a bill to repeal the ban on same-sex marriage, allow gay couples to adopt children, allow early voting and online voter registration, and several bills to expand Medicaid … It is certainly new little for Republican leadership in the Mississippi Legislature to help raise funds for a lawmaker who holds such extreme liberal views.

The release also describes White, who is considered the heir apparent to longtime Speaker Gunn, as “former Democrat turned Republican Speaker Jason White.” White was first elected to the House as a Democrat in 2011, but switched to a Republican in late 2012 and was a senior lieutenant on the Gunn GOP leadership team.

Yates, of Jackson, is in his first term representing the 64th House District seat, taking office in 2020. In January, Yates announced that she was switching to an independent party because “members of my own caucus and party have made it clear that I am not wanted in the Democratic Party.”

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