Filing of political candidates for local and state political offices ended Friday and the craziness, foolishness and inattention to detail that marks politics has already struck.
Already one candidate, Dick Withington, has been arrested and released on bail and the story surrounding that incident will play long after the June 2016 primaries are gone.
Withington was arrested for accepting money to drop out of the Horry County Council District 4 race in line with an email he sent to four members of county council soliciting the money. Withington claimed statements to local media that he accepted the money either as proof that he was being bribed or as a mysterious campaign contribution.
Despite the arrest, Withington has promised to continue with his campaign for county council as well as his campaign for SC Senate District 34.
If we assume the old political adage that any publicity is good publicity, Withington is already leading in the name recognition area for the two races in which he is a candidate. Somehow, I don’t think that rule applies in this case.
In the 2012 election cycle, failing to file a Statement of Economic Interests at the same time that Statement of Intention of Candidacy papers are filed cost over 50% of candidates that year a place on the ballot.
Failing to file an SEI at the proper time will no longer keep a candidate off the ballot (the state law was changed in the 2013-14 legislative year). But, that failure can draw fines for a candidate from the Ethics Commission.
It only took me a spot check on the SC Ethics Commission website of two Horry County Council races to find failure to file an SEI is still a problem.
In the special election for Horry County Council District 7, Republican candidate Mike Roberts filed an SEI properly while Republican candidate Robert Shelley was several days late in his filing. The Democratic side was even worse. Candidate Orton Bellamy filed his SEI properly while candidates Harold Phillips and Lee Sherman have yet to file an SEI.