CHARLESTON – In a surprising turn of events, Senator Robert Karnes (Republican – 11) has been ousted from the Republican Senate Caucus following a vote held last night. The decision means Karnes will no longer participate in confidential caucus meetings where Republican lawmakers discuss proposed legislation.
The expulsion comes in the wake of a social media post by podcast host Tom Roten over the weekend. Roten alleged that groups paid a hefty $10,000 each for the opportunity to present to caucus members at Edgewood Country Club during the last weekend’s meeting. The critical revelation leading to Karnes’ removal is the accusation that he was the source of Roten’s post, a breach of caucus confidentiality rules. However, Roten has publicly denied Karnes being the source, raising questions about the grounds for the expulsion.
This is not the first time Karnes has found himself at odds with fellow Republicans. In the previous session, he was ordered out of the Chamber by Senate President Craig Blair. Karnes has been a vocal critic of Blair, particularly highlighting concerns about the Senate President’s compensation. He contends that Blair receives four times more than other Senators and twice as much as any previous Senate President. Karnes points to a radio interview where Blair claimed not to return home during sessions but submitted expense reports indicating at least three trips from Charleston to the Eastern Panhandle.
In an interesting development, Senator Karnes made an appearance on Roten’s podcast this morning to discuss his expulsion, shedding light on the internal conflicts within the Republican Senate Caucus. The ongoing rift between Karnes and Blair continues to capture attention and raises questions about the party’s unity and cohesion moving forward.