The South Carolina legislator charged with DUI and giving false information to police likely will not face suspension in the state Senate for his arrest.
Sen. Paul Campbell, R-Berkeley, faces charges of driving under the influence and providing false information to police after troopers say he rear-ended a car on Interstate 26 in Berkeley County late Saturday and then lied about who was driving the car, according to the S.C. Highway Patrol.
Campbell, 71, who has represented Berkeley, Charleston and Dorchester counties in the Senate since 2007 and chairs the Senate Ethics Committee, cannot be suspended simply because of the charges, according to Senate Majority Leader Shane Massey, R-Edgefield.
“He hasn’t been charged with anything that would invoke the automatic suspension rule,” Massey told The State newspaper on Sunday.
The Senate rules governing action against a senator deal with felony warrants or indictments. The charges against Campbell are both misdemeanors.
“That may result in an investigation into what happened and whether it resulted in a violation of the Ethics Act,” Massey said of convictions or guilty pleas on the charges. “Most likely, a conviction for a misdemeanor is not going to be a violation of the Ethics Act.”
Troopers say the lawmaker, who was released from jail Sunday, had a blood-alcohol content of .09. In South Carolina, it is illegal to drive with a blood-alcohol content of .08 or higher.
Campbell said Sunday that he is proud of what he has accomplished in the Senate, and called the charges against him “an unfortunate incident.” He is represented by Charleston attorney Andy Savage.
“Every once in a while, something doesn't go exactly how I wanted it to,” he said. “But that's all right. We'll bounce back and go after it again.”
Massey implored patience for the investigation and court case.
“This just happened (Saturday) night. We need to figure out what all the information is and go from there,” he said. “... I also recognize elected officials should be held to a higher standard. But I think it’s important that we at least figure out what the information is before we start making judgments.”
Campbell’s wife Vicki, who troopers say was a passenger in the car, faces a charge of giving false information to police after troopers determined there was a “discrepancy” as to who was behind the wheel, the Highway Patrol said.