Rep. James E. Clyburn, D-S.C., will host an "election eve fish fry" with Democratic congressional candidate Archie Parnell despite distancing himself from the candidate earlier this year when Parnell admitted to assaulting his ex-wife in the 70s.
Clyburn will appear with Parnell at the event the night before the Nov. 6 election, the Associated Press reported. Parnell is seeking to unseat Republican Rep. Ralph Norman.
The event prompted the National Republican Congressional Committee to call on Clyburn, the third-ranking House Democrat, to cancel his appearance with an "admitted domestic abuser."
“Congressman Clyburn’s actions aren’t just hypocritical, they’re disgusting,” NRCC spokesman Matt Gorman said in a statement Tuesday night.
According to 1973 divorce records obtained by The Post and Courier, Parnell allegedly used a tire iron to shatter a glass door and then his fists to hit his ex-wife.
When the abuse was revealed earlier this year, Clyburn urged Parnell to end his campaign. That was followed by the exodus of several staff members from Parnell's campaign and a condemnation by the state Democratic Party
“What Archie Parnell did is inexcusable and deeply disturbing, and he should drop out of this race immediately,” DCCC spokeswoman Meredith Kelly said at the time.
Parnell, at the time, called his behavior “inexcusable, wrong and downright embarrassing."
He said he changed since the incident, his ex-wife had forgiven him and that he has remarried and raised two daughters.
“I’ve always believed one can be redeemed,” Clyburn told McClatchy two months ago. He said his decision to host the fish fry came after much reflection.
“We asked, and he said yes,” Parnell spokesman, Michael Wukela said. “He [Parnell] gave a major speech this month about what happened 44 years ago. He spoke very frankly about it. And for the past several months, to be honest, we have not gotten many questions about it. People can say whatever they like, but Archie stepped up and took responsibility.”
Other Democratic figures who initially called on Parnell to withdraw have had a change of heart.
“Archie Parnell has won his primary and the voters of the 5th District have spoken," state party Chairman Trav Robertson told the Associated Press.