Senate, House leaders call on Rep. Corley to resign after arrest

Suspended state Rep. Chris Corley should resign his seat in the S.C. House for one simple reason, according to the Republican majority leader of the state Senate.

“It’s not OK to beat your wife,” Sen. Shane Massey, R-Edgefield, said Thursday.

Along with other House and Senate leaders, Massey called Thursday for Corley’s resignation. The Aiken Republican was indicted this week on domestic violence charges and suspended from the House.

Corley is charged with punching his wife of 12 years in the face and pointing a 9 mm pistol at her in the presence of two of their children.

Massey’s Democratic counterpart in the Senate, Minority Leader Nikki Setzler, D-Lexington, and House Majority Leader Gary Simrill, R-York also said Corley should resign.

“Should he not resign, it could go to the (House) Ethics Committee,” Simrill said, “and he could be expelled.”

Other legislators are holding off in calling for Corley’s resignation until his case goes through the legal system.

As a former prosecutor, state Rep. Tommy Pope, R-York, said he will not prejudge the case, arguing it was not the job of other legislators to call on Corley to resign.

State Rep. Gilda Cobb-Hunter, D-Orangeburg, said resignation is “a call Rep. Corley will have to make.”

Cobb-Hunter added she was not surprised to hear of the lawyer’s arrest, saying domestic violence is found in all levels of society.

But Massey said legislators must be held to a higher standard, regardless of whether Corley is found guilty of the charges. “I don’t see how you don’t resign.”

Massey said he thought he had to speak out after hearing the 911 tapes related to Corley’s case.

State Rep. Mandy Powers Norrell, D-Lancaster, also called for Corley’s resignation, adding the case again highlights the high rates of domestic violence in South Carolina.

“Domestic violence is at the forefront in this state,” Norrell said. “What’s described on the 911 tapes is horrific. ... If I was in his shoes, I would want to step away from the spotlight.”

However, lawmakers were reluctant to say that an indictment should automatically lead a lawmaker’s resignation. Last month, state Rep. Jim Merrill, R-Berkeley, was indicted on charges of misusing his public office as part of an ongoing probe into legislative corruption.

Massey said Corley’s case was special because of the severity of the charges against him.

“High and aggravated (domestic violence) is one step down from murder,” Massey said. “The only thing worse you can do is kill someone.”