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Monday, July 16, 2012

Pickens County GOP Speaks Out "B.R. Ballotgate"


Pickens County Republican Party, In case you have not heard, we have been sued by Rep. B.R Skelton. Through his lawyer, who is a Democrat colleague in the S.C. House, a conspiracy theory has been contrived that I and Ed Harris, the winner of the June primary, improperly placed Harris on the ballot. That is not true. Mr. Harris has no say whatsoever about who is on the ballot.

As you know, Mr. Harris was on the ballot, we had an election, and Mr. Harris won. Normally that would be the end of the story. I have been involved in dozens of primaries and the losers always conduct themselves as Statesmen and accept the will of the voters. Unfortunately, that is not the case this time. We have elections for a reason, but it seems that instead of election by voters, we are entering the age of election by lawsuit.

The heart of the matter is a poorly written law that in one place requires filing paper economic interest forms, but in another section requires electronic filing. Shortly after the filing period closed in March, a complaint was filed in the S.C. Supreme Court asking them to decide which was proper. The court decided that candidates must have a paper copy when they filed with the county chairman. Some had the paper copy and others did not.

The reason this year has been so confusing is that political parties were given filing instructions from state agencies based on the electronic filing requirement, but the Supreme Court, after the filing period closed, decided we should have also been instructed to see paper copies upon filing. Again, it goes back to poor lawmaking, not incompetence of candidates or political parties.

The court also said current office holders were exempted from the requirement because they have an economic interest form on file. The court did not address the law that states forms must be from the preceding year. Most office holders do not meet that requirement; so actually, candidates like Mr. Harris were more in compliance with state law than most incumbents. But I won’t get in to that since it is a matter for future lawsuits.

Several weeks ago the SCGOP Executive Committee met and agreed that Mr. Harris should be the nominee and rejected Mr. Skelton’s protest. Mr. Skelton subsequently filed a lawsuit in circuit and Supreme Court claiming Mr. Harris was improperly filed. Last week, in order to avoid the Supreme Court, the SCGOP decided Mr. Harris should not be the nominee since the paper copy he had when he filed no longer exists. It is important to note that there is no requirement to retain the paper copy. State law is clear that the only legitimate filing is the electronic version.

As for what is next, there is a meeting of the SCGOP Executive Committee on Tuesday to discuss whether Mr. Harris can remain the nominee or be removed by the state GOP. There are so many other details that I really do not have room for here, but if you want more information just call. I can tell you that Mr. Harris is pursuing a couple of options to remain the nominee.

If you want more information contact him at or 864-654-1742.

You may also want to contact Mr. Skelton at or 864-868-3495.


Phillip Bowers 
Pickens County GOP

1 comment:

  1. I'd add that it wasn't the SCGOP who decided to decertify Mr. Harris, it was the chairman of the state party, Chad Connelly. It's certainly my belief that he did not have the authority to certify or decertify - that that authority belongs to the state executive committiee (which had already decided in Mr. Harris' favor). Best wishes, Justin Alexander



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