He was first elected chairman of the state party in 2011, and had just been re-elected at the May 2013 convention.
The move comes as no surprise to those who find the Republican Party to have turned its back on public education.
Connelly is a board member of the Palmetto Family Council, a far-right group that calls for giving public school funding to private schools.
He also once directed the “South Carolinians for Responsible Government” organization, which is a pro-voucher group seeking tax dollars to fund private school tuition.
For this work, he was paid $63,500 a year from Howard Rich, a Libertarian and private-school supporter who’s known to circumvent political contribution limits in South Carolina.
Ample records show Rich to contribute maximum amounts to Republican candidates multiple times, using checks from fake business names that all use the same post office box address, to persuade the notion.
Connelly also operated the Sandlapper Group, a political consulting firm that represented Republican candidates who received the most funding from Rich.
Such experience shows alignment between him and the national party’s stance on education.
In its 2012 platform, the Republican Party criticized public school funding, calling for school choice and tax credits for private school tuition. It also promoted vouchers, a concept that encourages use of public school funding in private schools instead.
Despite having status that got him this appointment, Connelly’s not supported by all members of the Republican Party in South Carolina. For example:
In February before this year’s state convention, news told of inner party woes in SCGOP based on division with its Tea Party sympathizers.
Connelly allegedly entered the state party into a $340,000 mortgage in April without approval from its executive committee.
Sam Harms, his 2013 opponent for the chairman position, claimed in May that Connelly instructed the state party to not provide him with any listing of voting delegates. Connelly also submitted emails stating that Harms supporter Brian Frank threatened him, which resulted in a lawsuit filed against Connelly and SCGOP.
Just last week and before the resignation, the Greenville County Republican Party formally censured Connelly, as well as GOP state Rep. Alan Clemmons, for what it found to be “actions to threaten, intimidate and undermine” at the recent state party convention at which he was re-elected.
At the same June 8 meeting at which Connelly resigned, the party’s executive committee voted to replace him with Matt Moore, former executive director of SCGOP.
In his 2002 book “Freedom Tide,” Connelly attributes his personal success to working for Amway, in which he was able to rise to the high Ruby Level (and possibly Emerald, according to one who tells of his own negative Connelly-Amway experience).
The book is noted to contain many factual errors in its recount of U.S. history.
His exact position with RNC is still unknown, though. “I’ll be on board full time and will be able to relay the details very soon,” Connelly stated in a SCGOP press release.