The Buzz

The Buzz: SC shocker! The dead are NOT voting!

jself@ thestate.comJuly 13, 2013 

— News of dead people voting in South Carolina spread pretty quickly last year with help from the state’s Republican leaders who were promoting their voter ID law.

But those same leaders have little to say about a recent S.C. Law Enforcement Division report debunking claims of fraud by deceased voters. (Kudos to Corey Hutchins at Free Times for bringing the report to light.)

Last year, after state Department of Motor Vehicles director Kevin Shwedo reported his agency had records indicating about 950 people had voted after they died, Attorney General Alan Wilson called for a SLED investigation.

“We know – for a fact – that there are deceased people whose identities are being used in elections in South Carolina,” the Lexington Republican said on Fox News at the time.

Gov. Nikki Haley appeared on Fox News later to discuss pushback against the state’s controversial voter ID law, saying, “Without voter ID, I mean let’s be clear, I don’t want dead people voting in the state of South Carolina.”

The S.C. State Election Commission spent 200 hours, employing half its staff for about a month, to investigate about 200 suspect votes. The agency found human and technical errors, but no fraud. This month, SLED reported no need for further investigation.

Shwedo told The Buzz that at least the investigation revealed ways the elections process could be improved.

The reaction from those who had been worried about dead people voting?

Silence.

Democrats called on Republican Haley and others to apologize for misleading the public.

Wilson’s office released a statement: “The initial claims reported to the Attorney General’s Office were alarming. They were not vague allegations but contained specific information. The state’s chief prosecutor cannot stand by when presented with such a situation. So SLED was asked to investigate this matter. We appreciate SLED’s hard work in preparing this report.”

Asked by The Buzz last week to comment on SLED’s report, Haley instead talked about the state’s voter ID law, subsequently judicially neutered.

“I’m very happy that everybody that now has to vote has to show a picture ID,” the Lexington Republican said, leaving out a crucial detail – any excuse for not having an ID is acceptable, a court says. “I know that we are a better state because now we have confirmation in our electoral process.

“I’ll let everybody else say what they’re going to say about (the voter ID law), but I’m a happy girl.”

S.C.’s vulnerable U.S. Senator?

Any candidate looking to oust U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, a frequent target of Tea Partiers who insist the Seneca Republican is vulnerable, will need to aim high – atop Graham’s growing pile of cash.

Politico reported Graham had his best fundraising quarter ever, bringing in $1.4 million during 2013’s second quarter and increasing his cash on hand to $6.25 million.

Anderson County Republican Richard Cash, who has announced he is running against Graham, posted on social media Wednesday that he looks forward to filing his fundraising report soon. He told The Buzz Friday that he raised about $270,000 and spent $30,000.

Nancy Mace – who owns a Charleston communications and marketing firm, and may or may not be running – said on Twitter, “it will take more than money” to win a GOP primary in South Carolina.

Sure, responds The Buzz.

But a load of cash sure would help.

Update in S.C.’s most exciting not-yet-a-race

Gov. Haley still has not announced, officially, that she is running for governor in 2014.

But she is.

Did the Republican incumbent raise more money than her expected Democratic opponent, state Sen. Vincent Sheheen, of Camden, in 2013’s second quarter?

Yes. And no. And ... well, you decide.

The fundraising quarter ended June 30, and Sheheen reported contributions through June 30.

But candidates do not have to turn in their fundraising reports until July 10. So, Haley reported contributions through July 10.

Haley had about $40,000 in contributions between July 1 and July 10, pushing her reported total for the quarter to $619,000. Sheheen reported about $611,000 through June 30.

So Sheheen raised more through June 30.

But Haley reported more money.

Did Sheheen beat the governor through July 10?

We don’t know officially. (But a source in the Sheheen camp said he had raised about $640,000 through July 10.)

Cathy Hazelwood, attorney for the State Ethics Commission, said lawmakers have to report contributions through the end of the quarter, which ended June 30. Anything beyond that is just gravy. “We don’t do anything if you over-disclose.”

(Wags can fill in the blank here, yes or no, _____ as to whether the Ethics Commission does anything if candidates under-disclose.)

A quick review of campaign reports from the 2010 governor’s race shows Haley and Sheheen usually did not report contributions during the 10-day grace period between the end of a quarter and the required reporting date.

So why would Haley include the extra10 days of contributions now?

The talking points go something like this:

Democrats: She cheated because she did not want to be embarrassed by Sheheen during his first full fundraising quarter.

Republicans: The governor is a big believer in transparency, so she reported everything she had.

(Stay tuned ’til next quarter.)

Rainey, Rainey, go away

Sadly, for Nikki Haley, fellow Republican John Rainey just won’t go away.

The longtime GOP operative and his attorney, former S.C. Democratic Party chairman and attack dog Dick Harpootlian, have asked the S.C. Supreme Court for a rehearing of Rainey’s lawsuit against Haley, claiming she lobbied illegally while a Lexington County state representative – charges Haley was cleared of twice by the House Ethics Committee.

In June, the Supreme Court ruled against Rainey, siding with a lower court and unanimously dismissing the case.

Harpootlian and Rainey refrained from commenting on the merits of their request for a rehearing. “Never pass up an opportunity to keep your mouth shut,” Rainey said.

Reach Self at (803)771-8658. Staff writer Adam Beam contributed.

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