It’s not exactly a judicial intervention of Bush v. Gore proportions, but several candidates for state office have been kicked off the ballot by the South Carolina Supreme Court for failing to file an ethics statement on time.
State law requires that statements of economic interest — a transparency measure which lists a candidate’s job, salary, property and other financial information — should be filed at the same time as a candidate’s declaration of candidacy. The court ruled on Wednesday that political parties should not have accepted one without the other, and that candidates who didn’t submit their statements by the March 30 filing deadline should be left off the June primary ballot.
“We fully appreciate the consequences of our decision, as lives have been disrupted and political aspirations put on hold,” justices wrote. “However, the conduct of the political parties in their failure to follow the clear and unmistakable directives of the General Assembly has brought us to this point.
The decision affects State House candidates in 32 counties, according to The State’s Gina Smith, and local candidates in 26 counties. That includes such high-profile candidates as Katrina Shealy, Sen. Jake Knotts’ opponent in the Republican primary, and Occupy Columbia protester Walid Hakim, who had hoped to challenge Rep. McLain Toole of Lexington.
But as Palmetto Public Record reported last month, the majority of candidates who neglected the forms appear to be Republicans — including potential opponents of incumbent Democrats such as Rep. Bakari Sellers, Sen. Creighton Coleman and Sen. Joel Lourie. The state Democratic Party even argued in favor of leaving candidates off the ballot, opting to sacrifice the political hopes of Democratic challengers like Hakim in an effort to eliminate Republican candidates with a potentially greater chance of winning.
Both parties are expected to submit a full list of disqualified candidates by the end of the week.