Senate primary winner under fire in S.C.

  • Tue Jun 15th, 2010 10:26pm
  • News

Associated Press

COLUMBIA, S.C. — A watchdog group wants South Carolina’s top prosecutor to investigate whether someone gave money to the unemployed, unknown Democrat who won the U.S. Senate primary last week.

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington also filed a complaint Tuesday with the Federal Election Commission accusing Alvin Greene of failing to file appropriate campaign paperwork.

GOP State Attorney General Henry McMaster’s office did not immediately respond to messages seeking comment. Greene hung up the phone when reached at home.

Greene stunned state party leaders June 8 when he defeated a former state lawmaker in the primary to face Republican U.S. Sen. Jim DeMint. Losing candidate Vic Rawl has filed a protest, saying there was a malfunction of some kind in last Tuesday’s election.

The Democratic Party’s 92-member executive committee plans a hearing Thursday on Rawl’s protest and could order the primary results overturned. Rawl could also appeal to the state Supreme Court.

Pundits have been puzzled since Greene, a 32-year-old political unknown, defeated Rawl with 59 percent of the vote to 41 percent for Rawl.

Rawl, now a Charleston County council member, said he campaigned statewide, put 17,000 miles on his car and, in the days before the primary, sent out hundreds of thousands of e-mails and automated phone calls seeking voter support. Greene said he traveled the state to talk to voters, but he had no campaign organization and no website.

Majority Whip Jim Clyburn, South Carolina’s top Democrat in the U.S. House, called on state and federal authorities to probe how Greene came up with the money needed to file as a U.S. Senate candidate. Clyburn said he thinks someone put Greene up as a shell candidate to embarrass the Democratic Party.

Greene said he saved up his military pay for two years for the $10,440 filing fee he paid in March.

Rawl said Monday that he suspects Greene’s victory is due to either voting machines or software malfunctioning.

“As to who did it, why they did, whether it was an accident or was intentional, I have no idea and I don’t feel comfortable commenting on that,” he said.