Sons Of Confederate Veterans In Leadership Dispute




hodges55“This brouhaha involves the chief executive of the corporation. Whether Denne Sweeney or Dr. Hodges is commander-in-chief has no great impact on the affairs of the organization. The overwhelming majority have no clue what’s going on,” he said. As for an ideological split, Massey said, “I think the vast majority of members understand we’re a historical, genealogical organization.”


Sons Of Confederate Veterans In Leadership Dispute
By Deborah Fitts
April 2005

COLUMBIA, Tenn. – The Sons of Confederate Veterans (SCV), a 109-year-old organization honored for its direct ties to the soldiers of the Confederacy, is reeling from a bitter brawl among its topmost leaders, a brawl that resulted in the ouster last month of Commander-in-Chief Denne Sweeney and five of his lieutenants.

On March 9 the removal was reversed by court order, putting Sweeney and the others back in power – but leaving a troubled future for the venerable organization.

With the SCV’s board of directors, known as the General Executive Council (GEC), split practically down the middle, the half opposing Sweeney held a meeting Feb. 16 by conference call and removed Sweeney and the officers whom he had appointed. Seeking legal clout to back themselves up, the following day the board filed suit in local court (known as Chancery Court) in Maury County, Tenn., where the SCV is headquartered. The judge issued a temporary restraining order supporting the board’s actions pending a full hearing March 9.

Automatically succeeding Sweeney was the GEC’s second-in-command, Lieutenant Commander-in-Chief Anthony Hodges. The other empty posts were also quickly filled.

The coup was the culmination of months of increasingly bitter division among the SCV leadership, which was troubled even before Sweeney’s narrow election to commander-in-chief at the national SCV convention last July, in Dalton, Ga. Spokesmen on both sides describe an organization split even at the state level between an “old guard,” that prefers a traditional approach of quietly honoring the Confederate past, and a new, more confrontational wing that is determined to tackle affronts to Confederate heritage in the courts and on the streets.

Following the Feb. 17 court action, Commander-in-chief Hodges, in a statement posted on the Internet, sought to assure the organization’s 30,000 to 35,000 members that the ouster was “mandatory,” and that “the GEC acted in the best interests of the SCV.”

“Never before have we faced such an atmosphere of intimidation in the SCV, in which members, officers and GEC members have been suspended or threatened with suspension or expulsion for little or no reason,” Hodges wrote. “Our pride in history has become, for a few, a faÁade masking anger, resentment and an apparent desire to browbeat the SCV into a new direction, one with [a] politically ideological path determined by a select few.”

Hodges listed eight allegations against Sweeney, including suspensions and threatened suspensions of board members, conducting “harassing investigations” against opponents on the board, and “creating and maintaining a hostile work environment.”

Hodges closed by warning members, “Be very skeptical of the shrill voices of contentiousness.” He asked for members’ “prayers, support and patience” in the board’s efforts “to return the SCV to an organization committed to reasonable conduct, a precious heritage and the rule of law.”

However, Sweeney predicted victory at the March 9 hearing, saying the other side “misrepresented a lot of things to the court.”

Sweeney added, “Close to 90 percent of the members are not happy about this. They’re not happy about a democratically elected board being overthrown.” Hodges and his supporters “have become like a little monarchy. Some people describe it as a house of lords.” Sweeney said he was getting 200 to 300 e-mails of support a day from members.

Sweeney’s appointees removed from the board by the Feb. 17 temporary restraining order included Adjutant-in-Chief Jim Dark, Chaplain-in-Chief Ron Rumberg, Editor-in-Chief (of SCV’s Confederate Veteran magazine) Frank Powell, Judge Advocate-in-Chief Sam Currin, and Chief of Staff Ron Casteel. The board also removed Trans-Mississippi Department council member Chuck Norred, who had been appointed by Sweeney to fill a vacancy.

Turnabout came on March 9, when Judge Robert Jones of the Chancery Court quashed his temporary restraining order and reinstated Sweeney and his appointees. Jones said the rump group of directors had given insufficient notice for the Feb. 16 conference call, and had unfairly barred Sweeney and his followers from joining in.

But the judge also ruled against several of Sweeney’s actions, including his suspension of past commanders-in-chief, who hold board positions on the GEC, and unilaterally filling the Trans-Mississippi vacancy.

Former commanders-in-chief with voting privileges, now numbering 11 out of the board’s 23 members, have a life term on the GEC. Other council members are elected every two years by delegates representing SCV camps around the country.

Sweeney blamed the infighting partly on “an ideological difference. A lot of the past commanders-in-chief are uncomfortable with being a more aggressive organization actively promoting Civil War heritage. They really want us to be a history club.”

But ideology “is not what’s driving this,” he said. “Past commanders-in-chief have controlled things for many years. Commander-in-Chief Wilson and myself were the first reform candidates. We haven’t gone along with what they wanted.” Ron Wilson preceded Sweeney as commander-in-chief, with Sweeney serving as his No.2.

Sweeney, a 15-year veteran of the SCV, added, “I have no radical agenda” other than “to defeat a lot of this political correctness” that has targeted Confederate symbols.

As for the immediate future, Sweeney acknowledged, “The board is severely divided between past commanders-in-chief and their supporters and the current administration. But we’re going to try to smooth things out and move forward. We’ll stop yelling at each other.” He said he would send the board an advance of his next article for Confederate Veteran, “and if they think there’s something defamatory, I’ll change it.” But he added, “I don’t know if we’ll ever get to the point of being good buddies again.”

Those close to the situation point to an elevation of tensions last year, when Wilson unilaterally removed an old-guard council member, a former commander-in-chief, citing the suspension of his law license in Missouri. The member sued in Chancery Court, and in an out-of-court settlement was allowed to return to the board. After Sweeney took command, he suspended him again.

Jim Dark, Sweeney’s adjutant-in-chief, said Sweeney removed the council member because Sweeney was threatened with a lawsuit by more than 200 members who wanted the man out.

But Jeff Massey, who served as adjutant-in-chief for the three weeks that Hodges took command, had another point of view. “Mr. Sweeney felt he had the god-given right to suspend him. He wanted to take his vote away. He had no right to do that.”

Sweeney also suspended another GEC member, citing voting fraud at the July convention. The suspensions took place in December at a GEC meeting outside Charlotte, N.C. Several old-guard members boycotted the meeting, a tactic used before. Sweeney got around the lack of quorum by declaring a temporary suspension of five who failed to show – thereby reducing the number needed. Judge Jones nullified the December meeting, saying Sweeney did not have the authority to suspend board members.

Massey, whose brother Troy Massey lost in the July election to Sweeney by 53 to 47 percent, said the SCV leadership under Wilson and Sweeney was “based on fluff and hyperbole. There is nothing there.”

“They don’t want any oversight,” Massey said. “They want these people (the old guard) gone. There’s a real drive to get rid of accountability.”

Massey said the March 9 ruling actually represented a triumph for the old guard, in that “All the substantive legal points were decided in favor of the past commanders-in-chief.” Although Sweeney and his appointees were reinstated, he said, the judge “dressed Mr. Sweeney down” and told him “he’d abused his office.”

“I believe the words were ‘dictatorial’ and ‘dictator,'” Massey said. “Now that he can no longer suspend people, the court effectively emasculated Mr. Sweeney’s ability to influence the board.”

Sweeney said Judge Jones urged the GEC to begin working together again. Sweeney cited April23 as a likely meeting date, outside Charlotte. But he also raised the specter of an emergency special convention, where SCV members could take matters into their own hands – possibly including the removal of board members.

A convention is scheduled for July, but Sweeney said many members don’t want to wait that long.

“I see a lot of grassroots support for a special convention,” he said. “A lot of members are agitating for it.” He said he would “confer with the GEC” before calling a convention.

Massey called the notion of a special convention “a colossal waste of time,” given the one scheduled for July. He said Sweeney’s real purpose was to avoid holding a board meeting until a special convention, when “I suspect they’ll try to throw all the past commanders-in-chief off the board.” He said the board’s voting makeup at present is “effectively an 11-to-10 split” against Sweeney.

Massey predicted that if a special convention is held, it will be in Virginia or the Carolinas, where Sweeney’s views are widely embraced and delegates to the meeting would be on his side. In order to make a quorum for a convention, the SCV must have 20 percent of its roughly 180 camps represented.

“This is a desperate power play they’re attempting,” said Massey. “It clearly demonstrates the vindictiveness of this group of people desiring to hold power.”

Massey downplayed the reaction of the membership, however.

“This brouhaha involves the chief executive of the corporation. Whether Denne Sweeney or Dr. Hodges is commander-in-chief has no great impact on the affairs of the organization. The overwhelming majority have no clue what’s going on,” he said. As for an ideological split, Massey said, “I think the vast majority of members understand we’re a historical, genealogical organization.”

Massey said the SCV was not paying the legal fees for the rump group that ousted Sweeney “at this time.” Asked who was, he said, “I prefer not to say. Many people are coming forward.”

Sweeney and his associates set up a legal defense fund of their own and hired what Ron Casteel, Sweeney’s chief of staff, described as “a highly regarded legal firm.”

Dark, Sweeney’s adjutant-in-chief, said he joined the board’s Feb 16 conference call and “protested the legality of it, but I was basically cussed at and abused.”

He said of the “little group of conspirators,” “They moved in a very unethical manner. They basically removed everybody on the council they could that opposed them, and refilled the positions with toadies who would do as they’re told.” At the grassroots level, he said, “Probably 90 percent of the membership is behind Sweeney.”

Dark said the trouble was that there were “two groups of individuals with very, very different opinions about where the SCV should be heading.” The “old-timers” were uneasy about “some fairly progressive programs” that were instituted in recent years, including the Sam Davis Youth Camp, a week-long summer camp on Southern history, and a program, modeled after the National Rifle Association, that established field representatives to recruit new members.

A 12-year member of the SCV, Dark said the ideological struggle began when he was a new member. “In response to political correctness, we decided we weren’t going to prevail if we decided to just be a bunch of nice guys.”

The struggle is also under way in some state divisions, according to Dark. Florida, for example, is split down the middle, he said, while in North Carolina “the vast majority of the membership are activists.”

Casteel said the old guard had controlled the SCV until Wilson and Sweeney took the helm, and pursued a more activist agenda that appealed to the membership. “The last two administrations have been very mindful of the desires of the membership at large,” he said. “The old guard couldn’t really care less what they think.”

Casteel said that from a public-relations point of view, by going to court to oust Sweeney the dissident council members “committed a form of suicide.” He added, “It’s going to be real interesting” to hear from the members at the nextconvention.

“When I use the word catastrophic, I really mean that,” said Casteel. The board members who ousted Sweeney “seriously underestimated the reaction of the membership. This shows you how out of touch those old goats are.”

The Rosamond and Hodges family, intermarried. Dorothy Hodges was taken by a Cherokee chief, and had a son by him. Did this chief kill Salvador, who descends from King David?
The Hodges family owned some of the “Jews Land” owned by Salvador’s kindred. Our kindred, and their history are entwined in Biblical Hisotry and the mission of the Zionists.
Below is a photo of ‘Plantation Point’ where my acre of land promised to me by a descendant of King David, and kin of Salvador, is found. I believe the Sephardic Jews took an oath on this land that they would never return to Zion. One could say this a Thanksgiving.

Early Reform Judaism was also anti¬Zionist, believing the Diaspora was necessary for Jews to be “light unto the nations.” Nevertheless, a number of Reform rabbis were pioneers in establishing Zionism in America, including Gustav and Richard Gottheil, Rabbi Steven S. Wise (founder of the American Jewish Congress) and Justice Louis Brandeis. Following the Balfour Declaration, the Reform movement began to support Jewish settlements in Palestine, as well as institutions such as Hadassah Hospital and the Hebrew University.

“George Washington Hodges, one of the oldest and most respectable citizens of
Abbeville county, died at his late residence in the town of Hodges on Friday
night last (1876) after an illness of two days, at the advanced age of 84
years, and as his career has been an eventful one, we append some sketches
or incidents connected with his life which we doubt not

About Royal Rosamond Press

I am an artist, a writer, and a theologian.
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1 Response to Sons Of Confederate Veterans In Leadership Dispute

  1. Reblogged this on rosamondpress and commented:

    Sarah Palin says she is from Idaho. She is talking about the flag in South Carolina where my ancestors hail. Why doesn’t she mind her own states business – if this quitter respects state’s rights? Stop using my kindred to make political hay. “I think that’s an idiotic idea, to tell you the truth,” the former Alaska Gov. said. “That flag represents a lot of things from the past. True, some were very bad, and there’s no escaping that. But, there were also good things that flag stands for, and I for one won’t let it be cast aside as a tool used by those looking to exploit the tragedy in Charleston. It’s part of our past and those who do not remember their past often don’t have a future.”
    Palin also mentioned part of her hopes for the upcoming 2016 presidential election: “And you know something else? I was born in Idaho, so I’m not a Southern girl by birth, but I support and believe in traditional southern values with all of my heart. In fact, I hope we finally get to put the Confederate flag on the White House next year. Not only would that be a radical and positive turn in American politics, but it would also say “in your face” to those who are looking to make true Americans forget who they are.”

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