By GARY D. ROBERTSON
A North Carolina House Republican is officially on the outs with the rest of the chamber's GOP caucus.
Rep. Robert Brawley of Iredell County and a key House Republican leader confirmed Wednesday that Brawley will no longer be attending House Republican Caucus meetings following a no-confidence vote Tuesday.
Majority Leader Edgar Starnes, R-Caldwell, said caucus members wanted the unusual no-confidence vote because Brawley was speaking publicly about caucus business. Brawley served 18 years in the House until 1998 and returned last year, but lost his primary election this month.
``There are a number of members who have felt uncomfortable discussing privileged information with him because he had a propensity of talking publicly about caucus matters,'' Starnes said Wednesday before another caucus meeting. Such meetings are private.
Brawley has been a critic of Speaker Thom Tillis, R-Mecklenburg, penning a letter questioning his leadership in the weeks before the U.S. Senate primary that Tillis won. Brawley resigned his finance committee chairmanship last year during a flap with Tillis and wrote a letter at the time bringing up their differences over legislation. The letter ended up getting read on the House floor.
Brawley, in an interview, said House Republican leaders ``don't like the fact that I do not support Thom Tillis,'' but he said he considered the issue over and done with after Brawley's primary defeat.
``They will tell you it's because I talked about secrets outside the caucus,'' Brawley said. ``First of all, I don't do anything down here that I can't talk about, period. And I've told them if that keeps me from being a part of the caucus, I'm in the wrong place anyway.''
Brawley said Starnes told him Tillis demanded a meeting be held Tuesday to consider his future in the caucus. A Tillis spokeswoman referred questions to Starnes, who said it wasn't Tillis who asked, but members of the caucus who had concerns. Tillis was absent from Tuesday's caucus. Republicans voted 52-11 against him, Brawley said.
The political breakup, first reported by WRAL-TV, gave opponents of Tillis' Senate bid an opportunity to criticize his leadership style.
``Tillis has apparently turned his gavel against his own members to spare himself further embarrassment,'' said Ben Ray, a spokesman for Forward North Carolina, which is working to elect Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan and other Democrats.
Brawley said he's still a Republican and had no plans to caucus with the House Democrats. ``I'm a Republican for a reason,'' he said.