South Carolina senators are working against a deadline to solve the ballot crisis which removed nearly 200 state and local candidates from the June primaries. With heads butting left and right over the controversy, political differences turned into shouting matches Tuesday morning when the wife of outspoken Congressman Joe Wilson joined the fray.
Roxanne Wilson was one of over 100 people who packed into the Senate Judiciary Committee’s standing-room-only meeting Tuesday morning. Wilson’s sister, Lexington Clerk of Court candidate Suzanne Moore, is one of the candidates removed from the ballot last week for not filing a statement of economic interest on time. The South Carolina Supreme Court ruled last week that any candidate who didn’t file the ethics document at the same time they registered their candidacy should be removed from the ballot.
A measure introduced by Sen. Kevin Bryant (R-Anderson) would allow candidates who filed a statement of economic interest by April 20 to be recertified for the primary. “We face a daunting challenge to act on this matter without disrupting the electoral process,” said committee chairman Larry Martin (R-Pickens), who urged quick passage of Bryant’s resolution. “We have a tremendous responsibility to handle the issue with fairness and equity.”
However, any legislative solution to the ballot controversy faces significant time constraints and bureaucratic hurdles. In addition to quick passage by the Senate and House, the measure would have to be pre-cleared by the U.S. Justice Department and able to withstand court review — all of which must happen this week if the State Elections Commission is to begin issuing ballots on time before the June 12 election.
In the State House, the measure faces opposition by lawmakers whose challengers were disqualified by the ruling, such as Sens. Robert Ford (D-Charleston) and Jake Knotts (R-Lexington). Knotts has denied accusations that he orchestrated the lawsuit which led to the ruling in order to eliminate his challenger, tea party activist Katrina Shealy, from the competition.
Whether Knotts is behind the ruling or not, he certainly did his best Tuesday morning to ensure that eliminated candidates stay off the ballot. During the discussion, Knotts threatened to stall the resolution unless senators included a provision altering the candidate filing process in the future. But when Knotts learned that the resolution would allow candidates like Shealy back on the ballot, he turned around and voted against the bill anyway.
“If you’re gonna run for office, you need to know the law in order to be elected to help make the law,” Knotts said.
After the committee meeting, Roxanne Wilson and other protesters engaged Knotts in a shouting match about the senator’s actions before pushing past security to follow Knotts into his office. WACH FOX’s Adam Pinsker’s video captured the scene:
Gotta love how Wilson snaps at the security guard, “I don’t know who you are, but go away,” before pushing past him like she owns the place. She and her “you lie” husband really are two peas in a pod, huh?
With so much opposition lined up against the ballot measure, several senators are skeptical that any legislative solution could jump all of its hurdles in time for the June primary. “Y’all did a hell of a job presenting your case, but y’all still know the rules of the Senate — and this is not going to pass this year,” Sen. Ford commented.
We’ll know whether Sen. Ford’s prediction is accurate on Wednesday when the full Senate debates the measure. And if any other congressional spouses decide to join the fracas, you’ll read about it on Palmetto Public Record.