More Hanky-Panky In South Carolina Primaries

S.C. lawmaker calls for investigations of Democratic primary, 2 other races

House Majority Whip James E. Clyburn (D-S.C.) called for federal and state investigations into alleged campaign irregularities in South Carolina after an unemployed Army veteran who lives with his parents won a Democratic primary for the U.S. Senate there.

Alvin M. Greene, who has an outstanding felony obscenity charge pending, “was someone’s plant,” Clyburn said Thursday.

Clyburn added that Greene was one of three individuals, all African American, whose congressional campaigns were designed to upend the Democratic primary process in the Palmetto State. The lawmaker also raised questions about the campaigns of Gregory A. Brown, who ran a vigorous but unsuccessful challenge against Clyburn in the 6th Congressional District, and Benjamin Frasier Jr., a perennial candidate who surprised observers by beating retired Air Force Reserve Col. Robert Burton in the 1st District.

The Federal Elections Commission has no public record of any of the three filing quarterly reports revealing their funding sources or campaign outlays.

“It’s not just Mr. Greene. This was a broader issue than that one race. There’s somebody somewhere subverting the entire process in the Democratic primary,” Clyburn said in a conference call Thursday.

During the final two weeks of the primary campaign, the nine-term representative said, it became clear to him that “something was going on in South Carolina that was untoward. . . . I couldn’t quite put my finger on it . . . but I knew that something was amiss.”

Clyburn said he did not know whether to suspect Republican involvement in the three races, but he added that Greene’s candidacy reminded him of the case of GOP operative Rod Shealy.

In 1990, Shealy recruited an unemployed black fisherman facing felony charges, Benjamin Hunt Jr., to run for Congress in the Republican primary in order to boost white turnout in a different race on the ballot. Because South Carolina has open primaries, Republicans can vote for Democratic candidates and vice versa.

Shealy was ultimately convicted of violating campaign finance laws after it was revealed that he had paid Hunt’s campaign filing fee.

“When I learned that this gentleman, Mr. Greene, was accused of a felony, I just felt this was 1990 all over again,” Clyburn said.

Greene’s $10,400 campaign filing fee was written on a blank check with “Alvin M. Greene for Senate” handwritten across the top.

South Carolina Democratic Party chair Carol Fowler called Wednesday for Greene to drop his campaign in light of the charges against him, but Greene has said he intends to remain on the ballot.

Keiana Page, a spokeswoman for the SCDP, said efforts to remove Greene from the ballot were centering on whether an indictment would prevent him from remaining on the ticket. “We’ve been talking with our attorneys about looking into the charges that he has against him,” she said. Greene was arrested but has not entered a plea or been indicted on the charge.

A spokesman for Sen. Jim DeMint (R), Greene’s opponent in November’s general election, called the idea that Greene was a Republican plant “ridiculous.”

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