By Paul Gable
Earlier this week I lumped Stephen Goldfinch into a group of state legislators considering a challenge to Tom Rice in the June 2022 primary.
It appears I was wrong.
Goldfinch is apparently considering challenging Jimmy Richardson for the 15th Circuit Solicitor’s job, according to a number of people I have spoken with since I wrote the article.
Richardson is generally considered a good solicitor. He trained as an assistant solicitor under Greg Hembree and was elected to the top job when Hembree moved on to the state senate in 2012.
One attorney I spoke with said, “Other than some convicted felons, I don’t know of anyone who has an issue with Jimmy Richardson.”
Goldfinch, on the other hand, would be virtually a novice in the criminal area of the law. He doesn’t appear to have handled more than a handful of criminal cases, all misdemeanors, in his law practice.
He not only has no experience with serious felony cases but would not even be eligible, according to state guidelines, to defend a death penalty case. Of course, the way things are set up, minimum requirements of years of experience for criminal defense in capital cases are mandated but for prosecution they are not.
As one attorney said to me, “The law requires competent defense not competent prosecution.” But the people demand competent prosecution against serious offenders.
Goldfinch has had one brush with the law as a criminal defendant. In 2013, Goldfinch plead guilty to one misdemeanor charge of interstate transfer of mislabeled drugs. The charge arose when federal prosecutors in Houston alleged upon their information that from April 26, 2006, through Dec. 30, 2008, a Mt. Pleasant-based company then owned and operated by Goldfinch, called Caledonia Consulting Inc., was involved with the “distribution and sale of stem cells” that had not been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to “treat human diseases.”
At the time of the charge, Goldfinch told media he had no knowledge of illegal activities by those the stem cells were sold to or by the doctor who harvested the stem cells.
One of those doctors has presented a different story as an “official archived legal webpage” on the website of his company. That webpage can be viewed at: https://www.dammaimorganllc.com/archive-stem-cells-case.html
In the past, there has been considerable money spent to support Goldfinch’s campaigns. A significant portion of that money has come from PACs, businesses and individuals associated with the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce.
Much of that money has been spent on attack ads against Goldfinch opponents.
In the 2016 primary election for the state senate seat Goldfinch now holds, Reese Boyd, Goldfinch’s opponent, was attacked a supposedly independent organization for being a “tax and spend liberal” even though Boyd is known as a strong conservative in political circles since he served as legal counsel to former Gov. Carroll Campbell.
One mailer, paid for by the “Citizen’s Alliance for Fiscal Responsibility” (whatever that is) said of Boyd, “He’s a fiscal liberal. Now Reese wants to take his liberal pro tax hike philosophy to Columbia as our state Senator.”
Goldfinch squeaked through a primary runoff to win the seat. What makes this so notable – one year after the primary in 2017, Goldfinch, as a state senator, voted for legislation bringing the largest gas tax increase in state history as well as significant increases in a number of other state “fees” such as driver’s license and car registration. When Gov. Henry McMaster vetoed that bill, Goldfinch voted to override the governor’s veto. The bill is law today and the gas tax increases occur every year.
It seems Goldfinch was the one who took his liberal pro tax hike philosophy to Columbia.
A number of sources have spoken to me about a telephone poll that was conducted recently about Richardson. It appears questions about either actual or fictional cases were cherry picked to attempt to raise questions about Richardson’s tenure as solicitor. Sounds like the first stage of negative campaigning against Richardson is already underway.
The push poll against Richardson was included with a poll on Tom Rice. This makes sense as both Goldfinch and Rice use political consultant Walter Whetsell.
If Goldfinch decides to challenge Richardson, in addition to the poll, Goldfinch will have one more thing in common with Rice – the inability to understand his constituents.
Should Goldfinch decide to challenge Richardson in the June 2022 primary, I expect we will be treated to much more of these dubious tactics by the Goldfinch camp.