Challenger Bryon Gipson has a slightly more money on hand to spend than does embattled two-term incumbent Dan Johnson in the Democratic primary race for the 5th Circuit solicitor's post.
Gipson reported having $9,400 on hand to spend for the June 12 primary, while Johnson has $7,051, according to campaign disclosure records filed this week by the candidates with the S.C. Ethics Commission.
Much of Gipson's cash on hand comes from a $5,754 loan that the Columbia attorney made to his campaign to pay his filing fee for the post.
Since mid-February, Johnson has raised $12,950 for his re-election campaign. Gipson has raised $9,400 since late March.
The race has attracted statewide attention.
Johnson is under FBI and State Law Enforcement Division investigation for questionable spending by his office, including U.S. and foreign travel using office-issued credit cards. Subsequently, federal and state grand juries convened to hear testimony about that spending, sources have told The State newspaper. Grand jury proceedings are secret, and those sources are not authorized to speak on the record about them.
All of Gipson's contributions have come since March 26, when he announced his candidacy. Gipson said he was running because "I believe the integrity of that office needs to be restored."
All of Johnson's contributions came before March 23, when The State newspaper reported the FBI had joined SLED in its investigation of Johnson's spending. Since then, Johnson reported receiving no contributions.
Some former Johnson supporters now are backing Gipson, including state Rep. Todd Rutherford, D-Richland, and Richland County council member Seth Rose. Gipson reported that Rutherford and his law office each have given his campaign $1,000. Rose contributed $1,000 to Gipson.
Gipson's other supporters include Columbia attorneys Bill Toal, $500; Jim Griffin, $1,000; and former 5th Circuit Solicitor Dick Harpootlian and his law office, $1,000 each. (Harpootlian's law firm founded the Columbia-based Public Access to Public Records nonprofit that obtained and published online Johnson's office spending records.)
Johnson's contributors include Columbia attorneys Jonathan Harvey, $450; former 5th Circuit Solicitor Barney Giese, $1,000; Wayne Corley, $1,000; Joe Leventis, $1,000; former 5th Circuit prosecutor Johnny Gasser, $1,000; and the Lourie Law Firm, $1,000.
The solicitor's post, which pays $141,300 a year, oversees criminal prosecutions in Richland and Kershaw counties. The solicitor also has control over millions of dollars in county, state and federal money that flow through the office.