Friday, April 27, 2012
Numerous candidates from across South Carolina — including at least one Georgetown County candidate — could be tossed from their political races because they filed legal documents late.
The South Carolina Supreme Court will hear arguments Tuesday, May 1, in a lawsuit filed by two Lexington County voters who say many candidates did not properly file statements of economic interests.
According to state law, the paperwork that details financial and other information is supposed to be filed by March 30.
According to the court documents, many candidates did not file that paperwork either in a timely manner or, in at least one case, at all, the Associated Press reports.
Locally, candidate for auditor Rod Stalvey filed his statement of economic interests on April 18 — more than two weeks after the deadline.
His Republican opponent, Brian Shult, filed March 18.
“This is a typical bureaucrat response to non-political people wanting to get involved in politics,” Stalvey said.
He said he actually filled out the documentation on his computer March 29 but forgot to hit the submit button. He did not realize the error until he was notified by County Republican Party Chairman Jim Jerow that the papers had not been filed.
Another local candidate — Tammie Avant, running for clerk of court — filed April 4.
Avant said Tuesday she did not become an official candidate until 11:58 a.m. March 30, the same day the ethics forms were due.
“At the time I filed I did not know anything about that. I had to go open a bank account,” she said, adding it would have been impossible to get the paperwork in the same day she became a candidate.
There is confusion about whether she was late because, according to the Ethics Commission Website, candidates have “within five days of the established deadline” to file.
Many of the candidates who missed the deadline said they were uninformed about the date the forms were due.
South Carolina Elections Commission spokesman Chris Whitmire told the AP this was the first March filing period where both deadlines were the same day.
Raye Felder, Republican candidate for S.C. House District 26, did not file her papers until April 9. She told the Rock Hill Herald the South Carolina Ethics Commission website is unclear. On the Ethics Commission website, the 2012 calendar lists April 15 with the description “2012 Statement of Economic Interests Forms Due.”
She said she thought she had until April 15.
The law states anyone who does not file the documents before the deadline will be left off the ballot.
That is what the State Supreme Court will decide after hearing the arguments next week.
Meanwhile, at the direction of the high court, ballot printing has ceased until a decision is made.
By Scott Harper