Sarasota-based National Black Republican Association filed articles of impeachment against President Obama last week, setting off a groundswell of support online and sparking outrage from area Democrats.
The association’s chairman, 20-year Army veteran and Sarasota resident Frances Rice, drafted the 10 articles, which were released in a blog post Monday, Aug. 12. Rice cited the president’s handling of the Benghazi attacks, the NSA spying program, the prosecution of whistleblowers and the wiretapping of journalists as the organization’s principal grievances.
“It’s in the nature of people who serve to be willing to put things on the line for what they believe in,” said Rice, who served as an Army JAG officer and retired as a lieutenant colonel. “We have put our reputations, our fortunes and our careers on the line. We are trying to show that not all black Americans support President Obama.”
The article announcing the NBRA’s call for impeachment was published on WatchdogWire.com and received more than 53,000 likes on Facebook.
The impeachment document calls for the president’s removal from office and was sent to President Obama, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, House Speaker John Boehner, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and the full Judiciary Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives.
“I don’t expect to hear a word from Congress,” Rice said. “If Republicans tried to support this, they would be derided and demeaned as racist. You would need support from Democrats, and they have shown no interest in holding Obama accountable.”
Sarasota Democrats said Rice’s move was nothing more than a political stunt that could backfire for Republicans.
“Sarasota voters are educated, thoughtful and moderate,” said Rita Ferrandino, chairwoman of the Sarasota Democratic Party. “This type of radical political extremism does not resonate with the Sarasota political community.”
Rice co-founded and became chairman of the NBRA in 2005. Rice said the intent of her Internet-based advocacy group was not to affect political change but to educate and dispel common misperceptions about race and politics.
“We want to bring the political debate back to the issues, not on stereotypes,” Rice said. “If we can take race out of the political vitriol, we can judge politicians on the content of their ideas.”
Rice also heads the African-American Outreach Committee for the Republican Party of Sarasota. Her career as a military lawyer included assignments as special assistant to the Army JAG and adviser to the deputy assistant secretary of defense for equal opportunity. After retirement, Rice served on President Reagan’s Private Sector Initiatives Task Force and volunteered in the political campaigns of numerous Republican candidates for offices ranging from the presidency to congressional seats.
Rice said the president’s handling of the 2012 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, led the NBRA to push for impeachment.
“The tipping point for me was Benghazi,” Rice said. “The image of that soldier shooting off a flare from the roof, giving away his position, thinking that help was coming. The whole thing just really grabbed me — and a lot of others — emotionally. We want our voice to be heard.”
Rice said the media and the Democratic Party have unfairly targeted her organization because its message runs counter to the assumption that Democrats are more effective advocates on issues affecting the black community than Republicans.
“Most of the mainstream media likes to pretend that black Republicans don’t exist,” Rice said. “We try to fight back against the mantra that the Republican Party is only rich white men.”
Ferrandino said the NBRA’s move for impeachment was another example of the kind of Republican grandstanding that cost them the 2012 presidential election.
“This is not an honest debate,” Ferrandino said, referring to the NBRA impeachment articles. “It is a political stunt meant to galvanize the Tea Party base.”
The offices of Sen. Marco Rubio and Rep. Vern Buchanan declined to comment on the NBRA’s push for impeachment.
The articles of impeachment are published online at: http://blackrepublican.blogspot.com.