County Democrats Considering Lawsuit Against GOP

Dorchester County Democratic Party Chair Richard Hayes said county Republicans can prevent a lawsuit if they 'do the right thing' and release candidate filings.

A week after the primary, the ballot mess ensnaring the Palmetto State has finally come to roost in Dorchester County, which up until last week remained untouched by the .

Dorchester County Democrats are considering a lawsuit against the Dorchester County Republican Party regarding improper filing proceedures for nonincumbent candidates, according to county Democratic Party Chair Richard Hayes.

The Democrats issued a press release Monday, requesting every GOP candidate's files that, according to S.C. Supreme Court rulings, should include a paper copy of the Statement of Intention of Candidacy and Statement of Economic Interests filed simultaneously.

"We're getting our ducks in a row (for a lawsuit)," Hayes said. "Maybe the Republicans will do the right thing (and release the files)."

When asked if there would be a lawsuit and what deadline he would give the Republican Party, he replied, "To be determined."

Dorchester County Republican Party Chair Carroll Duncan has denied the Democrat's request as of Monday evening.

On June 14, the Democratic party sent — that request was also denied by the GOP. Carter had just won the party's nomination two days prior, and is to face Democratic incumbent Rep. Patsy Knight in a battle for S.C. House District 97 in the fall.

The Democrats challenged that because Carter filed his Statement of Economic Interests online with the S.C. Ethics Commission three days before he filed his Statement of Intention of Candidacy in-person with the county party election officer, his filing should be released because it may have been done improperly.

But the Republican party and Carter fired back: a paper copy of the SEI was filed at the time of the SIC on March 16, they said.

According to S.C. Ethics Commission Executive Director Herbert Hayden, this is in compliance with requirements.

"The date of the form filed online has no bearing with the requirement to file in-person," Hayden said.

That same day, Dorchester County Democratic Chair Richard Hayes announced , who was running for Dorchester County Council District 6, a seat currently held by Republican incumbent Bill Hearn. . 

According to Hayes, Birdsong did not file a paper copy of her SEI at the same time of her filing, and therefore needed to be decertified.

The latest inquiry by the Democrats into the filings of GOP candidates includes Duncan — who is unopposed for Dorchester County Council District 5 — because her online filing date with the state Ethics Commission does not match up with open filing dates with the party. 

Carter's was filed online before candidates could file, and Duncan's was filed online after the candidate filing period was closed. 


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