Politics & Government

Beaufort Co. councilman called out for wearing Confederate flag tie. But was it really?

Beaufort County Councilman Mike Covert found himself defending a fashion choice after a 2017 Facebook photo resurfaced on Monday. The photo shows the 2020 Congressional hopeful in a bow tie some say looks too much like the Confederate flag.

The photo — originally posted on Covert’s political Facebook page on May 3, 2017 — features the councilman wearing a red bow tie with blue lines and white stars. Several Facebook users pointed out the similarities between the tie and the Rebel banner.

Covert, when contacted Monday, was adamant that he wouldn’t wear the Confederate flag and that the bow tie has a simple red, white and blue “Americana” theme for the Fourth of July.

“I think the Confederate flag belongs in a museum. I wouldn’t wear it because it doesn’t go with anything I wear. I don’t have anything with a Confederate flag,” Covert said. “... Some people wear them on shirts, and that’s their prerogative.”

He said it wouldn’t be his place to say what other people should or shouldn’t wear.

There are several websites selling similar-looking bow ties. Covert said he bought his tie from Bowties.com — which sells a “Red, White & Blue Americana Bow Tie” for $55. However, the bow tie also looks similar to the “Red Silk Stars and Bars Rebel Bow Tie CSA” on Amazon.

Americana bow tie
Covert said he bought his bow tie from Bowties.com — which sells a “Red, White & Blue Americana Bow Tie” for $55. Bowties.com

Red Silk Stars and Bars Rebel Bow Tie CSA
A “Red Silk Stars and Bars Rebel Bow Tie CSA” is available on Amazon. Amazon

The photo of Covert gained traction on social media after Beaufort County resident Dawn Lucas Pemberton shared it on Facebook Monday. Pemberton said she initially saw the photo after a friend tagged her in the original post’s comments. The majority of comments on the post were from users who seemed to believe the bow tie was an homage to the Confederate flag.

“I thought it was a pretty poor choice for a person seeking a public office,” Pemberton said. “It’s an offensive symbol and, when you see someone wearing it so proudly, it just kind of makes you question his beliefs. ... I just thought it was really unfortunate.”

In response to people that were offended by the photo, Covert said he was offended that people would think he would wear a Confederate flag bow tie.

“Everyone that has those comments — from what my team is telling me — they’re all anti-2nd Amendment, anti-pro life, anti-Trump. That’s their opinion. If that’s what people have to use to get themselves all wound up, so be it. The more they do that, the more publicity I get,” Covert said.

Monday’s Facebook post comes as Covert is in the midst of running for South Carolina’s 1st District against U.S. Rep. Joe Cunningham (D-S.C.).

When asked whether he would wear the bow tie again, Covert said he didn’t see why not.

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A reporter for The Island Packet covering local government and development, Kacen Bayless is a native of St. Louis, Missouri. In the past, he’s worked for St. Louis Magazine, the Columbia Missourian, KBIA and the Columbia Business Times. He graduated with a Bachelor of Journalism degree with an emphasis in Investigative Reporting from the University of Missouri in 2019.