By Paul Gable
Mark Lazarus has appealed the decision of the Horry County Republican Party Executive Committee to deny his request for a new runoff primary election for county council chairman.
A hearing of the appeal has been scheduled before the South Carolina Republican Party Executive Committee on Thursday July 14, 2022, in Columbia beginning at 6:30 p. m.
However, there is no legal basis for the SCGOP Executive Committee to hear that appeal.
The formal appeal document, prepared by Lazarus attorney Butch Bowers, contains apparent false statements about facts which render the entire protest and appeal process null and void.
The HCGOP Executive Party voted 40-5 with two abstentions to dismiss the protest on the grounds that it was not filed by the deadline mandated in state law.
State code Sec. 7-17-520 states, “The protests and contests in the case of county officers and less than county officers shall be filed in writing with the chairman of the county party executive committee, together with a copy for each candidate in the race not later than noon Monday following the day of the declaration by the county committee of the result of the election.”
Bowers did not file the election protest until 8:35 a. m. Tuesday July 5, 2022, in an electronic notification sent to and verified by the Horry County Sheriff’s Office.
Despite several convoluted attempts to justify his late filing Bowers, failed to convince the HCGOP Executive Committee that the filing was timely. Bowers failed by a 40-5 vote margin.
The above extract of state code definitely does not make exceptions for holidays. The Sheriff’s Office, which receipts the time the protest is received, is open 24 hours, 7 days a week, year around.
Sheriff Philip Thompson said the protest notification would have been received and acted upon in the same exact way it was on Tuesday July 5th if it had been received on Monday July 4th. The matter of July 4th being a holiday would not have changed the way it was handled by the Sheriff’s Office.
Bowers’ appeal filing calls the HCGOP decision illegal and again insists his initial protest was “timely filed as a matter of law.”
Bowers further states, “Since the Monday following the confirmation of the election result was on the Federal holiday of July 4, the deadline to file a protest was extended to noon on July 5, 2022, as confirmed by the S. C. State Election Commission.”
The two statements by Bowers, that the initial protest was “timely filed as a matter of law” and that the state election commission confirmed extension of the filing deadline, appear to be misrepresentations of material facts.
The state election commission promulgates information to help ensure the approximately 300 elections held throughout the state each year conform to state law requirements. It uses its SCVotes.gov website as part of this effort.
The SCVotes.gov website contains a five-page state election commission elections calendar for 2022 that lists every important date related to elections including deadlines for filing and protests as well as election dates themselves.
At the bottom of page three of the five-page calendar, it clearly states “July 4, 12:00 noon” as the deadline for filing “Protest for runoff with appropriate county or state party executive committee.”
A screenshot of the pertinent extract from the state election commission calendar appears below:
Bowers cannot admit that his filing was late because a late filing causes the protest to be null and void, as the HCGOP committee properly ruled. However, he also cannot materially misrepresent clearly stated facts that just a little research would yield.
However, that is possibly not even the worst situation with Bowers’ filing of the Lazarus appeal. By his own admission at the HCGOP meeting, Bowers is the attorney for the SCGOP. How is it ethically possible for the attorney of the adjudicating body to represent one side of an appeal before that body?
Bowers actions in representing Lazarus certainly have the appearance of very serious improprieties of legal ethics and conflict of interest.
Additionally, the body of the appeal dealing with the election results has no substance. Lazarus has been going around saying he is not acting for himself, he is acting for the 1377 voters who were “disenfranchised” in the election.
This is a load of B—S—.
As we have discussed before, Democratic primary runoff absentee ballots were erroneously sent to 1377 Republican voters. When the error was discovered, the Republican voters received the proper absentee ballots. 142 of those ballots were received on time and counted in the election totals. 208 arrived after the deadline, close of polls on election day, and were not counted in accordance with state law.
This leaves the fate of 1027 absentee ballots not accounted for. Lazarus and Bowers try to make a case that this number of voters were disenfranchised. That simply is not true. It is unknown if the voters decided to vote in another manner such as early voting, voting on election day or provisional ballot, or merely decided not to vote at all.
Ballots are unaccounted for, not votes.
This entire protest and appeal process is well outside of the law at this point. It is now in the realm of attempting to rig a decision within the party apparatus to order a new election.
There is some reason, at this point unknown, that members of the Cabal need Lazarus back in the county council chairman seat and that is why there is apparently a willingness to say and do anything, regardless of cost, to bring about that result.
In spite of those efforts, it is without doubt that the initial election protest was filed 20 hours and 35 minutes after the state mandated deadline, meaning there is no legal protest to the Horry County Council Chairman Republican Primary runoff certified results!
That is exactly what the HCGOP Executive Committee, quite legally, ruled!
The facts are on the side of the HCGOP that this protest is over. The law is on the side of the HCGOP that this protest is over. Is that enough to put this Lazarus scheme to steal the election from Horry County Voters to bed? Time will tell.