Wednesday, May 9, 2012
The disclosure-debacle that has forced about 180 candidates off the June primary ballots has caused the disqualification of two Georgetown County candidates.
Rod Stalvey, a candidate for County Auditor, and Clerk of Court candidate Tammie Avant, both Republicans, were disqualified, according to County Party Chairman Jim Jerow, because they did not properly file State Ethics Commission disclosure forms at the time they filed to run for office.
Early last week, the State Supreme Court ruled if candidates did not file a statement of economic interest when they filed to run for office, they will not appear on the ballot.
State GOP Chairman Matt Moore says he is “sad about (the) candidate filing rulings, but am committed to following the S.C. Supreme Court’s instructions. Our party has meticulously analyzed the filing submissions in compliance with the standards set forth by the Court.”
Jerow said he is “disappointed in the process” that led to the disqualifications.
“The Ethics Commission and the Legislature need to reevaluate the candidate process. There needs to be a (filing) grace period and the instructions need to be more clear,” Jerow said.
Stalvey said Friday he has already contacted an attorney and will pursue any legal avenues that are available.
“I will fight this,” Stalvey said. “This is a terrible terrible thing and it shows a major flaw in the ability to elect people to office. When appointed judicial officials get involved in electing people to office, this is what happens.”
Stalvey says he was told during a recent telephone call with the State Ethics Commission that his filing was OK. He said he was also told the party leaders in each county would make the final decisions, so he was surprised when he was determined to be ineligible to run in the primary.
“The Georgetown County Republican Party did not follow the letter of the law either and only two people have been thrown under the bus,” Stalvey said.
Stalvey said, if need be, he will run as an Independent.
“I am going to run,” he said.
Avant said she did everything she was instructed to do when she filed her paperwork so she is disappointed in the disqualification.
“I am reviewing my options,” she said when asked what she plans to do next.
She said Tuesday she is still waiting to see if the Judiciary Committee is successful in getting the names back on the ballot.
When asked if she will run as a petition candidate if she remains off the primary ballot, Avant said she “won’t count anything out.”
A special session of the state Senate Judiciary Committee was held Tuesday to discuss and propose legislation aimed at allowing candidates affected by the Court decision back on the ballot.
The committee approved a measure that would allow any person who filed the disclosure paperwork by April 20 back on the ballot even though the deadline was March 30.
The Senate could vote on the proposal today.
The measure has been fast tracked by attaching it to a House bill that has already passed.
To add to the confusion, if the law change passes, it could possibly delay the June 12 primaries because any change in election law must be approved by the U.S. Justice Department.
That approval could take up to 60 days.
One lawmaker, Sen. Vincent Sheheen, D-Kershaw, said he plans to push to have the Senate join a federal lawsuit which seeks to make state law consistent. If that happens the primary dates will not change.
By Scott Harper