Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.), the first Black senator from the South since reconstruction, had been in office less than a day when his civil rights voting record was slammed by the NAACP.
The rating is based on his voting record in his single term as a member of the state’s delegation to the House, not his race, Charleston NAACP chapter First Vice President Rev. Joe Darby said Jan. 4.
"I think only a couple of times maybe one or two, he voted with what the organization perceived as in line with the organization's agenda," said Darby, grading Scott’s record with an “F”.
Darby said the NAACP does not give grades based on color and it would be ignorant to think so.
He voted against funding the settlement of a racial discrimination lawsuit between the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Black Farmers, against the Congressional Black Caucus budget blueprint for fiscal year 2012, against TSA Employee Collective Bargaining rights,against federal funding for health care services offered by Planned Parenthood and against funding for the 2010 Health Care Reform Law, according to the NAACP’s annual legislative report card for the first session of the just-adjourned 112th Congress.
"We have Republicans that believe in Civil Rights and unfortunately, he is not one of them," said Ben Jealous, the NAACP's national president, in a statement.
Scott dismissed the rating as “ridiculous” and added that race analysis misses the point in discussions of public policy.
“I think that some folks want to find a way to make race more of a part of their conversation going forward and I think that it’s time for us to continue to move forward as a nation.”
“The way to get beyond it is realizing we have an opportunity to inspire folks,” said Scott. “The future of this nation is dependent on someone coming up with one really good idea and that’s part of the free market system that we have.”
Scott took the oath of office Jan. 3 to fill the four years remaining on the term won two years ago by Jim DeMint, who left the Senate to head the Heritage Foundation, conservative think tank in Washington.
Scott was elected with tea party backing in the 2010 general election that saw Republicans win control of the House. He was named by South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley (R) to fill the remainder of DeMint’s term.
An avowed conservative, the former insurance executive declined membership in the Congressional Black Caucus and has embraced the GOP and tea party view that the dimensions of federal government should be reduced and its influence minimized.
Despite the philosophical gulf between him and Vice President Joe Biden, the swearing-in featured light banter by Biden, the president of the Senate.
After taking the oath of office, Scott voiced optimism about his prospects as a senator. “It’s a new chapter – a new opportunity for me to continue to tell the story that I think is important to the future of our country, which is that a good economy makes all things possible,” Scott said afterward.
“Hopefully I can frame it in such way that it helps us grow the economy and have a smarter, easier-to-use tax code for folks to understand that America is great because people believe in hard work and are able to support their families and take care of themselves.”