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Dorchester Co. Democrats File Suit Against Local, State GOP

Democrats cite improper filing and ask for decertification of all non-incumbent Republican candidates in Dorchester County.

SUMMERVILLE — The Dorchester County Democratic Party filed a lawsuit Friday against the county Republican Party, chairwoman Carroll Duncan and a host of local and state GOP and elections officers.

A judge has . Court dates are expected in the second week in July. 

The suit claims Dorchester County Republican Party illegally certified all of its non-incumbent candidates, and asks the First Judicial Circuit to decertify the candidates, including GOP nominees for S.C. House District 97 Ed Carter and for S.C. Senate District 38 Sean Bennett

Nearly 250 candidates across the state were purged from ballots after two S.C. Supreme Court decisions leading up to the June 12 primary that said parties must decertify candidates that did not simultaneously file their Statements of Intention of Candidacy and their Statements of Economic Interests paperwork in person during the March 16-30 filing period. 

The Dorchester County Democrats , the same day they . Democrats said a lawsuit would be imminent if Republicans did not comply. 

The lawsuit lists the defendants as: the Dorchester County Republican Party; Duncan; Dorchester County Board of Elections and Voter Registration and its executive director Joshua Dickard; the S.C. Republican Party, its Chair Chad Connelly and its Executive Director Matt Moore; and the State Election Commission, its Executive Director Marci Andino and its Director of Public information and Training Chris Whitmire.

See the full lawsuit attached to this story on the right.

"We are doing this for the voters — we need full transparency and all abide by the laws, even if we do not like them," Dorchester County Democratic Party Chair Richard Hayes wrote in a statement to Patch. 

Thursday night, the Republican Party leadership shut down intra-party discussion on the filing procedure on advice from legal counsel. Duncan refused to allow the executive committee to convene in executive session to discuss the looming lawsuit and allegations. She said she would make no statement on the matter. 

"We can't talk about it. We are under advisement by a lawyer," Duncan told the committee. "I want to talk but we can't."

Duncan released this statement Friday through her lawyer Todd Kincannon:

“I’ve just seen the lawsuit filed by the Dorchester County Democratic Party against the Dorchester County Republican Party (‘DCGOP’). I have done and will continue to do everything in my power to ensure that the DCGOP follows the rulings of the South Carolina Supreme Court. If a court decides any candidates were wrongly certified, we will immediately correct the certifications.”

Last week, Dorchester County GOP elections officer since all of the Dorchester County paperwork is in order. 

The suit cites the rulings in Florence and Anderson counties as reasons Dorchester County non-incumbent Republicans should be decertified — in other words non-incumbents at the time of their filing need to submit simultaneously their Statements of Intention of Candidacies and their Statements of Economic Interest. 

James E. Smith Jr., a Democratic S.C. House representative for District 72, is representing the Dorchester County Democratic Party. 

Carter is facing Democrat incumbent Rep. Patsy Knight for the general election, after a victory over fellow Republican Jordan Bryngelson June 12 for the nomination. Bennett has no Novemeber challenger, and beat Republican incumbent Sen. Mike Rose in the primary.

Read more on this topic:

Updated 8:55 p.m. June 29 to add Carroll Duncan's statement.

Barbara McGowin June 29, 2012 at 10:07 PM
The DCDP should include non-exempt incumbents in there complaint. The legislation for exemption for incumbent SC house and senate candidates from SEI filing requirement is found online @ http://www.scstatehouse.gov/code/t08c013.php "SECTION 8-13-1356. Filing of statement of economic interests by candidates for public office. (A) This section does not apply to a public official who has a current disclosure statement on file with the appropriate supervisory office pursuant to Sections 8-13-1110 or 8-13-1140." In order for an incumbent State Representative or Senator to be an exempt candidate the incumbent State Representative or Senator must have filed an electronic SEI prior to noon March 16th. On May 4, 2012 the SCDP and SCGOP lawyers got together and made up their own rules for recertification. This was a dumb thing to do as anyone can verify who is an exempt candidate and who is not. Online verification of SEI filing can be found @ http://apps.sc.gov/PublicReporting/IndSEI.aspx Put 2012 as the filing year and search by Last Name. Until the SCDP and SCGOP officials follow the law (and the May 2, 2012 SC Supreme Court ruling) lawsuits will continue to be filed. Good for the bank accounts of the lawyers; bad for the voters. Contact me at mcgowin4senate@hotmail.com or call/text 843.614.9651 if you would like to help me get signatures for my petition candidacy. I need 2,000 more signatures.
Gretchen June 30, 2012 at 12:08 PM
I don't understand all this... however, it seems to me there are LAWS for running for office in this state. Either the candidates complied with the law or NOT. If not, why were they allowed to be on the ballot?? It's just like JAMES ISLAND trying to become a town.....and several times they WORDED the REFERENDA incorrectly. WHO IS IN CHARGE of checking these things? Come on people .... wake up. Stop the frivilous charges against the Governor, and do your job in Columbia!

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