State Rep. Thad Viers (R-Horry) has become the second South Carolina Republican to be forced out of office by a criminal indictment in as many weeks, announcing his resignation from the State House on Wednesday over domestic harassment charges.
Viers, a strong Nikki Haley ally who was endorsed by the governor to represent South Carolina’s new congressional district, ended his candidacy for the 7th district seat back in January after being arrested for harassing his ex-girlfriend, Maurice’s Barbecue heiress Candace Bessinger:
According to police reports, a woman told police Viers repeatedly called, emailed and showed up at her home after she broke up with him. She told him to stop but he would not, according to an incident report.
The arrest was Viers’ second. In 2006, he pled no contest and paid a fine over charges that he harassed his ex-wife’s boyfriend. Viers left threatening phone messages on the boyfriend’s answering machine, according to the charges.
The Horry County Republican told the Associated Press he expected to be indicted in Marlboro County on Thursday in connection with the January arrest, which gave us our favorite creepy-smiling-politician mugshot since John Edwards:
Viers called the indictment a “politically motivated matter over a few love letters,” referring to the steady stream of Viers’ lurid emails to Bessinger being released by political blogger Will Folks. Due to the graphic and intimate nature of the emails, some have speculated that Viers himself leaked the emails to Folks in order to ruin Bessinger’s reputation in exchange for ruining Viers’ political career by having him charged with harassment.
In any case, Gov. Haley has not announced a new pick for the 7th district congressional seat since Viers withdrew from the race — but it is unlikely that she will support current frontrunner Andre Bauer. During the 2010 Republican gubernatorial primary, Haley accused then-lieutenant governor Bauer of telling reporters Haley had had an extramarital affair with one Bauer’s campaign consultants.
With Viers out of the State House and into a courtroom, it’s time to turn our attention to the future — and no, we’re not talking about the July special election to replace Viers. Who do you think will be the next South Carolina Republican to be indicted or forced to resign? Leave your predictions in the comments section.