By Paul Gable
As a result of a controversy created by Chad Connelly as he seeks to be re-elected as state party chairman at next week’s SCGOP convention, I decided to take a closer look at Connelly’s designated antagonist Brian Frank.
As we reported yesterday, Connelly viciously attacked Frank through e-mails last week and during the Cherokee County GOP meeting Monday night (captured on video).
The only apparent reason for these attacks is that Frank has been actively supporting Connelly’s opponent for the post of state party chairman, Sam Harms, primarily through the use of You Tube and Facebook.
During Connelly’s diatribes, he has inferred Frank is similar to the recent ‘Boston bombers’, accused him of “rant(ing) endlessly hateful stuff” and said Frank “has threatened me and my family.”
It is interesting to note that Frank attended the Cherokee County GOP meeting Monday night without speaking to Connelly. When Frank was prevented from taking video of Connelly’s speech, he chose to leave the meeting. It was only after Frank’s departure that Connelly, pointing to Frank’s empty chair, gave his 47 second rant against Frank, which was captured on video by another individual.
A native of northeast Ohio farming country, Frank enlisted in the U.S. Army’s Delayed Entry Program during his senior year in high school in 1993.
“I knew I wanted to go into the Army after graduation, so I signed up during my senior year,” Frank said. “I was only 17 when I left for basic training.”
After completing basic training at Ft. Jackson, SC, Frank was sent for Advanced Individual Training in Massachusetts. He was trained in Morse Code intercept and assigned to the National Security Agency at Ft. Meade, MD after completing training, complete with a Top Secret Special Intelligence clearance.
During his three years and three months on active duty, Frank also completed a one-year tour at Camp Humphries, South Korea.
After being discharged from active duty, Frank spent two years with the Ohio National Guard and a further two years with the Army Reserve, ultimately ending his military service in 2000.
He worked as a roofer in Ohio until deciding to join his father in South Carolina’s warmer climate in 2001.
“My father was living down here and he kept asking me to join him,” Frank said. “I finally decided to get out of the winter weather in Ohio.”
After moving to South Carolina, Frank worked as a temporary employee at BMW for approximately nine months before joining Nestle’s in Gaffney for a period of seven years followed by two years as a forklift driver at a Dollar General warehouse.
In 2012, he founded Fortress Precious Metals, working as his own employer for the last year. With Fortress Precious Metals, Frank buys and sells gold, silver, platinum and diamonds.
“I always wanted to be in business for myself,” Frank said. “When the opportunity presented itself, I took advantage of it.”
Frank’s interest in politics began in 2007 when a friend introduced him to the Ron Paul phenomenon in 2007.
“I didn’t have the slightest idea who Ron Paul was at the time, but I Googled him and everything I read made me like him more,” said Frank.
Frank joined Ron Paul groups, volunteered to hold Ron Paul signs on the road and attended the first modern Tea Party event in Boston in December 2007. He was asked to join the Cherokee County Republican Party in late 2007.
“The chairman of the county party came up to me at an event and said she liked my enthusiasm and asked me to join the party,” Frank said.
Frank attended the national “Tax Day” event in Washington, D.C. on April 15, 2008 and was one of South Carolina’s three delegates to the modern Third Continental Congress in Chicago in 2009.
“I got involved because I cared about the country and thought it was going in the wrong direction,” said Frank. “I met a lot of people along the way.”
In 2010, Frank supported Connelly’s candidacy for state GOP chairman.
“I met Chad and he seemed like a decent guy so I supported him for state chairman,” Frank said.
The rift between the two apparently dates to August 2012 when Chris Lawton was an alternate delegate to the Republican National Convention in Tampa. When an opening occurred in the S.C. delegation, Connelly refused to seat Lawton and chose an alternate who received less votes than Lawton as the replacement, according to Frank.
“Lawton called me and told me what happened,” said Frank. “I started calling people and sending e-mails trying to get Chad to change his mind. In my view, Lawton deserved to be seated as a delegate and got shafted by Chad.”
When Harms decided to challenge Connelly for state party chairman in the May 2013 state GOP convention vote, Frank became a Harms supporter.
“I have been very vocal supporting Sam Harms,” said Frank. “I think the party is coming unraveled and needs new leadership. Party leadership shouldn’t be about making friends, but about doing the right thing.”
“I took an oath to protect and defend the Constitution when I was sworn into the Army,” Frank said. “That oath didn’t stop when I got out of the Army. I believe strongly in exercising the rights given to American citizens by the Constitution. If we don’t exercise those rights, they will atrophy just like unused muscles.”
For exercising those rights in opposition to current state party leadership, Frank has, apparently, become the foil for Connelly’s re-election bid and the target of vicious, unwarranted personal attacks by Connelly.
“I hadn’t seen Connelly in months before Monday night and I never threatened Chad or his family,” said Frank. “I think he believes he can hurt Harms by going through me.”
The controversy will probably not end with the May 4th convention vote. Because of the nature of Connelly’s personal attacks on him, Frank has consulted attorneys and will formally file a lawsuit in the next few days.