Rep. Byron Donalds (R-Fla.) said that the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) has snubbed him from joining even though he told multiple members that he’s interested in becoming a member of the officially nonpartisan group.
Donalds said his office has not “really heard much from the CBC” after expressing interest.
“I have a perspective being a 42-year-old black man who’s come up in America after a lot of the battles through the civil rights movement that I think would actually be helpful and a helpful perspective to the CBC,” Donalds said in a CNN interview. “Whether they want to take advantage of that is really up to them.”
Over the years, the CBC has become overwhelmingly composed of Democrats, and currently no Republicans belong to the caucus. Some black Republicans have made it a point not to join the CBC, including Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.).
Donalds in February told Politico that he wanted to join the CBC because he believes the group—currently comprised of progressives—needs a conservative presence.
And unlike Donalds, other first-year black Democrat House representatives have been brought into the CBC earlier this year. A report from BuzzFeed on Wednesday quoted an anonymous source as saying that the CBC won’t offer Donalds membership because he supported former President Donald Trump’s reelection.
Donalds told CNN that it’s “off-putting” that he learned about their concerns via a BuzzFeed report. “If my positions and my support of President Trump is a problem for them, let them state that on the record,” he said.
“As a black man in America, I’m allowed to have my own thoughts on who I choose to support and who I choose not to support,” he said of his support for Trump. “This is whether the ideology of somebody who is conservative is welcome in the Congressional Black Caucus. It’s really that simple.”
Speaking to Fox News, Donalds’s communications director Harrison Fields said his office has “engaged with several CBC members expressing his interest in joining, but all we’ve got is the cold shoulder.”
“The sad reality is although the congressman and those in the CBC share the same race,” Fields added, “the ‘R’ behind his name disqualifies him from membership today.”
Several years ago, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, also an overwhelmingly Democrat caucus, denied admission to former Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-Fla.).
“I think it was pre-cooked,” Curbelo said in 2017. “I will stand up to bigotry and discrimination no matter whether it comes from the right, the left, the middle.”
The CBC has not yet returned a request for comment.