Timothy Eugene Scott is an American politician and businessman serving as the junior United States Senator for South Carolina since 2013. A member of the Republican Party, Scott was appointed to the U.S. Senate by Governor Nikki Haley in 2013. He retained his seat after winning a special election in 2014 and was elected to a full term in 2016.
In 2010, Scott was elected to the United States House of Representatives for, where he served from 2011 to 2013. Previously, Scott served one term in the South Carolina General Assembly and served on the Charleston County council from 1996 to 2008.
Scott has been one of three African-Americans in the U.S. Senate, and the first to serve in both chambers of Congress. Scott is currently the only African- American senator who is a member of the Republican Party. He is the first African-American senator from the state of South Carolina, the first African-American senator to be elected from the southern United States since 1881, and the first African-American Republican to serve in the U.S. Senate since Edward Brooke departed in 1979.
Early life, education, and business careerScott was born in North Charleston, South Carolina, a son of Frances, a nursing assistant, and Ben Scott, Sr. His parents were divorced when he was 7. He grew up in working class poverty with his mother working 16-hour days to support her family, including Tim's brothers. His older brother is a sergeant major in the U.S. Army. Scott's younger brother is a U.S. Air Force colonel.
He graduated from R.B. Stall High School. Scott attended Presbyterian College from 1983 to 1984, on a partial football scholarship. He graduated from Charleston Southern University in 1988 with a Bachelor of Science in political science. Scott is also an alumnus of South Carolina's Palmetto Boys State program, an experience which he cites as an influential factor in his decision to enter public service.
In addition to his political career, Scott owns an insurance agency, Tim Scott Allstate, and worked as a financial adviser.
Charleston County Council (1995–2008)
ElectionsScott ran in a February 1995 special election to the Charleston County Council at-large seat vacated by Keith Summey, who resigned his seat after being elected as Mayor of North Charleston. Scott won the seat as a Republican, receiving nearly 80% of the vote in the white-majority district, which since the late 20th century has voted Republican. He became the first black Republican elected to any office in South Carolina since the late 19th century.
Scott was on the County Council for a time alongside Paul Thurmond, the son of the late Republican U.S. Senator, Strom Thurmond, who switched from the Democratic Party to the Republican Party in 1964.
In 1996, Scott challenged Democratic State Senator Robert Ford in South Carolina's 42nd Senate district, but lost 65%–35%.
Scott won reelection to the County Council in 2000, again winning in white-majority districts. In 2004, he was reelected again with 61% of the vote, defeating Democrat Elliot Summey.
TenureScott was on the council from 1995 until 2008, becoming chairman in 2007. In 1997, he supported posting the Ten Commandments outside the council chambers, saying it would remind members of the absolute rules they should follow. The county council unanimously approved the display, and Scott nailed a King James version of the Commandments to the wall. Shortly thereafter, the ACLU and Americans United for Separation of Church and State challenged this in a federal suit. After an initial court ruling that the display was unconstitutional, the council settled out of court to avoid accruing more legal fees. Regarding the costs of the suit, Scott said, "Whatever it costs in the pursuit of this goal is worth it."
In January 2001, the U.S. Department of Justice sued Charleston County, South Carolina for racial discrimination under the Voting Rights Act, based on its having all its council seats elected by at-large districts. DOJ had attempted to negotiate with county officials on this issue in November 2000. Justice officials noted that at-large seats dilute the voting strength of the significant African-American minority in the county, who in 2000 made up 34.5% of the population. They have been unable to elect any "candidates of their choice" for years. Whites or European Americans are 61.9 percent of the county population. County officials noted that the majority of voters in 1989 had approved electing members by at-large seats in a popular referendum.
Scott, the only African-American member of the county council, has said about this case and the alternative of electing council members from single-member districts,
I don't like the idea of segregating everyone into smaller districts. Besides, the Justice Department assumes that the only way for African-Americans to have representation is to elect an African-American, and the same for whites. Obviously, my constituents don't think that's true.
The Department of Justice alleged that the voting preference issue was not a question of ethnicity, stating that voters in black precincts in the county had rejected Scott as a candidate for the council. The lawsuit noted that because of the white majority, "white bloc voting usually results in the defeat of candidates who are preferred by black voters." The Department added that blacks live in compact areas of the county, and could be a majority in three districts if the county seats were apportioned as nine single-member districts.
ElectionsIn 2008, incumbent Republican State Representative Tom Dantzler decided to retire. With support from advisors such as Nicolas Muzin, Scott decided to run for his seat in District 117 of the South Carolina House of Representatives and won the Republican primary with 53% of the vote, defeating Bill Crosby and Wheeler Tillman. He won the general election unopposed, becoming the first Republican African American State Representative in South Carolina in more than 100 years.
TenureScott supported South Carolina's right-to-work laws and argued that Boeing chose South Carolina as a site for manufacturing for that reason.
In South Carolina Club for Growth's 2009–10 scorecard, Scott earned a B and a score of 80 out of 100. He was praised by the South Carolina Association of Taxpayers for his "diligent, principled and courageous stands against higher taxes."
- Labor, Commerce and Industry
- Ways and Means
United States House of Representatives (2011–2013)
Scott entered the election for lieutenant governor but switched to run for South Carolina's 1st congressional district following the retirement announcement of Republican incumbent Henry Brown. The 1st district is based in Charleston, and includes approximately the northern 3/4 of the state's coastline.
Scott finished first in the nine-candidate Republican primary of June 8, 2010, receiving a plurality of 32% of the vote. Fellow Charleston County Councilman Paul Thurmond, son of U.S. Senator Strom Thurmond, was second with 16%. Carroll A. Campbell III, the son of former Governor Carroll A. Campbell, Jr., was third with 14%. Charleston County School Board member Larry Kobrovsky ranked fourth with 11%. Five other candidates had single-digit percentages.
Because no candidate had received 50% or more of the vote, a runoff was held on June 22 between Scott and Thurmond. Scott was endorsed by the anti-tax Club for Growth, various Tea Party movement groups, former Alaska Governor and Vice Presidential nominee Sarah Palin, Republican House Whip Eric Cantor, former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, South Carolina Senator Jim DeMint, and the founder of the Minuteman Project. He defeated Thurmond 68%–32% and won every county in the congressional district.
According to the Associated Press, Scott "swamped his opponents in fundraising, spending almost $725,000 during the election cycle to less than $20,000 for his November opponents". He won the general election against Democrat Ben Frasier 65%–29%. With this election, Scott and Allen West of Florida became the first African-American Republicans in Congress since J. C. Watts retired in 2003. Scott also became the first African-American Republican elected to Congress from South Carolina in 114 years. From 1895 to after 1965, most African-Americans had been disenfranchised in the state, and they had comprised most of the Republican Party when they were excluded from the political system.
Scott was unopposed in the primary and won the general election against Democrat Bobbie Rose, 62%–36%.
TenureScott declined to join the Congressional Black Caucus.
In March 2011, Scott co-sponsored a welfare reform bill that would deny food stamps to families whose incomes were lowered to the point of eligibility because a family member was participating in a labor strike. He introduced legislation in July 2011 to strip the National Labor Relations Board of its power to prohibit employers from relocating to punish workers who join unions or strike. The rationale for the legislation is that government agencies should not be able to tell private employers where they can run a business. Scott described the legislation as a commonsense proposal that would fix a flaw in federal labor policy and benefit the national and local economies. The NLRB had recently opposed the relocation of a Boeing production facility from Washington state to South Carolina.
Scott successfully advocated for federal funds for a Charleston harbor dredging project estimated at $300 million, claiming that the project was neither an earmark nor an example of wasteful government spending. He said the project was merit-based and in the national interest because larger cargo ships could use the port and jobs would be created.
During the summer 2011 debate over raising the U.S. debt ceiling, Scott supported the inclusion of a balanced-budget Constitutional amendment in the debt ceiling bill, and opposed legislation that did not include the amendment. Before voting "no" on the final bill to raise the debt ceiling, Scott and other first-term conservatives prayed for guidance in a congressional chapel. Afterward, he said he had received divine inspiration regarding his vote, and joined the rest of the South Carolina congressional delegation in voting "no" on the measure.
- Taxes and spending – Scott believes that federal spending and taxes should be reduced, with a Balanced Budget Amendment and the FairTax respectively implemented for spending and taxes.
- Health care – Scott believes the Affordable Care Act should be repealed. He has said that health care in the U.S. is among the greatest in the world, that people all over the world come to study in American medical schools, waiting lists are rare, and Americans are able to choose their insurance, providers, and course of treatment. Scott supports an alternative to the ACA that he says keeps its benefits while controlling costs by reforming the medical tort system by having a limit on non-economic damages and by reforming Medicare. In January 2014 he signed an amicus brief in support of Senator Ron Johnson's legal challenge against the U.S. Office of Personnel Management's Affordable Care Act ruling. in January 2019
- Earmarks – Scott claims to oppose earmarks, but successfully advocated for federal funds for a Charleston harbor dredging project estimated at $300 million.
- Economic development – He supports infrastructure development and public works for his district. He opposes restrictions on deepwater oil drilling. He proposed the opportunity zone designation in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017.
- Social issues – Scott describes himself as pro-life. He supports adult and cord blood stem cell research but opposes taxpayer-funded embryonic stem cell research and the creation of human embryos for experimentation. He opposes assisted suicide and same-sex marriage.
- Immigration – Scott supports federal legislation similar to the Arizona law, Arizona SB 1070. He supports strengthening penalties for employers who knowingly hire illegal immigrants. He also promotes cultural assimilation by making English the official language in the government and requiring new immigrants to learn English. He opposes a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.
- Labor – Scott introduced a bill that would deny food stamps to families whose incomes were lowered to the point of eligibility because a family member was participating in a labor strike.
- Foreign policy – Scott advocates a continued military presence in Afghanistan and believes early withdrawal would benefit Al-Qaeda. He also views Iran as the world's most dangerous country and believes that the US should aid pro-democracy groups there. Scott opposed the 2011 military intervention in Libya.
- Police body cameras – After the shooting of Walter Scott, Scott urged the Senate to hold hearings on police body cameras.
The House Republican Steering Committee appointed Scott to the Committee on Transportation and the Committee on Small Business. He was later appointed to the Committee on Rules and relinquished his other two committee assignments.
- Committee on Rules
- * Subcommittee on Rules and the Organization of the House
2012 appointmentOn December 17, 2012, South Carolina governor Nikki Haley announced she would appoint Scott to replace retiring Senator Jim DeMint, who had previously announced that he would retire from the Senate to become the President of The Heritage Foundation. Scott is the first African American to be a U.S. Senator from South Carolina. He was one of three black U.S. Senators in the 113th Congress, alongside Mo Cowan and later Cory Booker. He is the first African American to be a U.S. Senator from the Southern United States since Reconstruction.
During two periods, first from January 2, 2013 until February 1, 2013, and again from July 16, 2013 until October 31, 2013, Scott was the only African-American Senator. He and Cowan were the first black senators to serve alongside each other.
News media reported that Scott, along with Rep. Trey Gowdy, former South Carolina Attorney General Henry McMaster, former First Lady of South Carolina Jenny Sanford, and Catherine Templeton, Director of the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control, were on Haley's short list to replace DeMint. Of her decision to pick Scott, Haley said: "It is important to me, as a minority female, that Congressman Scott earned this seat, he earned this seat for the person that he is. He earned this seat with the results he has shown."
2014 electionScott ran in November 2014 to serve the final two years of DeMint's term and won.
2016 electionScott won reelection to a first full term in office in November 2016. He was endorsed by the Club for Growth.
In July 2018, Scott introduced a bipartisan bill, along with Democratic Senators Cory Booker and Kamala Harris, to make lynching a federal hate crime.
In February 2019, Scott was one of sixteen senators to vote against legislation preventing a partial government shutdown and containing 1.375 billion for barriers along the U.S.-Mexico border that included 55 miles of fencing.
EnvironmentIn 2017, Scott was one of 22 senators to sign a letter to President Donald Trump urging him to have the United States withdraw from the Paris Agreement. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, Scott has received over $540,000 from oil, gas and coal interests since 2012.
Judicial nominationsScott did not support Trump's nominee, Oregon's Ryan Bounds, to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, effectively "derailing" the nomination. His decision was based on what he called Bounds's "bigoted statements he made as a Stanford student in the 1990s." Marco Rubio joined him in opposing the nomination shortly thereafter, prompting Mitch McConnell to withdraw the nomination altogether.
In November 2018, Scott bucked his party in opposing Trump's nomination of Thomas A. Farr for a federal judgeship. Farr had been accused of voter suppression toward African-American voters. Scott cited Farr's involvement in the 1984 and 1990 Senate campaigns of Jesse Helms, which sought to suppress black voters, and a 1991 memo from the Department of Justice under the George H. W. Bush administration that stated that "Farr was the primary coordinator of the 1984 ‘ballot security’ program conducted by the NCGOP and 1984 Helms for Senate Committee. He coordinated several ‘ballot security’ activities in 1984, including a postcard mailing to voters in predominantly black precincts which was designed to serve as a basis to challenge voters on election day." Further explaining his vote, Scott said the Republican Party was "not doing a very good job of avoiding the obvious potholes on race in America." In an editorial, the Wall Street Journal criticized Scott, arguing that Democrats would see Farr's defeat as a "vindication of their most underhanded and inflammatory racial tactics." In a letter to the Wall Street Journal Scott said the publication was trying to “deflect concerns” about Farr’s nomination.
HealthcareIn January 2019, Scott was one of six senators to cosponsor the Health Insurance Tax Relief Act, delaying the Health Insurance Tax for two years.Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States. The scope of the CFIUS would be expanded to allow it to review along with possibly decline smaller investments and add additional national security factors for CFIUS to consider including if information about Americans would be exposed as part of transactions or whether the deal would facilitate fraud.
TradeIn January 2018, Scott was one of 36 Republican senators to sign a letter to Trump requesting he preserve the North American Free Trade Agreement by modernizing it for the economy of the 21st century.
President Trump and race relationsIn 2017, Scott reacted to the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville by acknowledging that "Racism is real. It is alive". Asked to comment on President Donald Trump's statements that there had been "good people" on both sides at the rally and that there was "blame on both sides" for the violence that ensued — comments that were interpreted as implying a moral equivalence between white supremacist demonstrators and counter-protesters — Scott stated that while Trump had initially "rejected hatred, bigotry, and racism" in his "strong" comments on the ensuing Monday, his comments on Tuesday "started erasing the comments that were strong. What we want to see from our president is clarity and moral authority. And that moral authority is compromised when Tuesday happens. There's no question about that I'm not going to defend the indefensible. I'm not here to do that".
Trump then invited Scott to meet with him on the subject at the White House on Wednesday, following which Scott stated that Trump "was very receptive to listening. That is a key to understanding", and that he had "obviously reflected on what he's said, on his intentions and the perceptions of those comments" which were "not exactly what he intended". Trump, however, said that he had outlined his original focus on the Antifa counter-demonstrators' equal or greater responsibility for the conflict: "you have some pretty bad dudes on the other side also, and essentially that's what I said.... ecause of what's happened since then with antifa, when you look at really what's happened since Charlottesville, a lot of people are saying, and people have actually written, 'Gee, Trump may have a point'. I said there's some very bad people on the other side also".
Scott was asked by Fox News to comment on tweets by Trump in which he castigated demonstrators against the killing of George Floyd by a police officer in Minneapolis as "THUGS are dishonoring the memory of George Floyd", and told the Governor of Minnesota "that the Military is with him all the way. Any difficulty and we will assume control but, when the looting starts, the shooting starts". Scott stated that "Those are not constructive tweets, without any question. I'm thankful that we can have the conversation.... We talked about the fact that there is a constructive way to have a dialogue with a nation in this similar fashion that we had a conversation after Charlottesville, the President will listen, if you engage him with the facts of the issue".
After George Floyd's killing and widespread protests, Scott was given responsibility to lead the drafting of a Senate Republican bill on race and police reform. Scott reacted to skeptical reactions he had received from others in the black community by tweeting, "Not surprising the last 24 hours have seen a lot of 'token' 'boy' or 'you're being used' in my mentions" and "Let me get this straight... you DON'T want the person who has faced racial profiling by police, been pulled over dozens of times, or been speaking out for YEARS drafting this?".
On June 28, 2020, President Trump retweeted a video showing one of his supporters chanting "White power" in the Villages, Florida. In an interview with Jake Tapper later that day, Scott criticized the President for the retweet calling it "indefensible" and advocated for the President to take it down, which he soon did.
- Committee on Armed Services
- * Subcommittee on Emerging Threats and Capabilities
- * Subcommittee on SeaPower
- Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs
- * Subcommittee on Financial Institutions and Consumer Protection
- * Subcommittee on Housing, Transportation, and Community Development
- * Subcommittee on Securities, Insurance, and Investment
- Committee on Finance
- * Subcommittee on Energy, Natural Resources, and Infrastructure
- * Subcommittee on Fiscal Responsibility and Economic Growth
- * Subcommittee on Taxation and IRS Oversight
- Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions
- * Subcommittee on Employment and Workplace Safety
- * Subcommittee on Primary Health and Retirement Security
- Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship
- Special Committee on Aging