Politics & Government

U.S. Rep. Jeff Duncan disavows robocall on eve of SC Senate runoff

By Kirk Brown

Anderson Independent Mail

U.S. Rep. Jeff Duncan
U.S. Rep. Jeff Duncan File/Independent Mail

U.S. Rep. Jeff Duncan is disavowing a robocall to Anderson County voters on the eve of the Republican runoff for the South Carolina Senate District 3 seat.

"I am very upset and extremely disappointed to hear that an unknown group calling themselves 'Friends of Jeff Duncan' is running robocalls this evening suggesting that my supporters should vote for Carol Burdette," Duncan said in a Monday night post on his Facebook page.

Burdette and RIchard Cash will compete Tuesday in a runoff for the state Senate seat that Kevin Bryant gave up when he became lieutenant governor in January. District 3 covers the northern half of Anderson County.

"I did not authorize this robocall. My campaign did not authorize this robocall." Duncan wrote in his Facebook post. "I have made no public comments of any kind about this race.

"Campaign tactics such as this are deceitful, wrong, and turn people away from politics. Campaigns should be run on the merits, not on electoral trickery. I don't appreciate my name being used to mislead voters, and I want to make it unmistakably clear that I do not in any way endorse that message or these tactics."

Cash's campaign learned about the robocall while he was speaking Monday night to a group of Republican women at Logan's Steakhouse in Anderson. His campaign provided the Independent Mail with a recording of the call.

The 53-second call says Cash has refused to rule out running for Duncan's seat in the U.S. House of Representatives next year if he wins the state Senate District 3 race. Duncan, a Republican from Laurens, defeated Cash in a 2010 GOP runoff for the state's 3rd Congressional District seat. Duncan is serving his fourth term in Congress.

“Carol Burdette supports Jeff Duncan and has given her word that she would never challenge Congressman Duncan," the call states.

“If you support Jeff Duncan, you should not vote for Richard Cash in the runoff election," the call also states. "Our state Senate seat should be more than a stepping stone for Richard Cash to get to Congress."

Efforts to reach a number listed at the end of the call were unsuccessful Monday night.

Cash, a Powdersville businessman, issued a statement condemning the call Monday night.

"This is a desperate, sad, last-minute attack to try and confuse voters," he said in a text message. "This is disrespectful to Congressman Duncan, myself, the voters, and the election process.

"And for the record, of course I have no intention of running against Jeff Duncan," Cash said.

Burdette, who is the former mayor of Pendleton, also issued a statement about the call.

"Tonight there was a call that came from a group called Friends of Jeff Duncan, I didn't authorize it, pay for it or know it was coming. And apparently, neither did Congressman Duncan," Burdette wrote in an email.

She also emailed photos of fliers that have been mailed to District 3 voters by independent groups such as the Friends of Farm Bureau Political Action Committee and Citizens for a Free Market.

"Clearly, outside parties have spent lots of money in this race," Burdette said. "The Citizen United decision gives independent groups the right to do what they want in campaigns. I often don't like what they do, but I respect their First Amendment right to do it."

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