Florence County Democrats vs Republicans suit heads to court

The SC Supreme Court will hear a lawsuit filed by the Florence County Democratic Party against the Florence County Republican Party. The justices will hear the arguments on June 4 at 2 p.m. in Columbia.

MW Trey Cockrell, III and Jason Turnblad of Cockrell Law Firm filed the lawsuit two weeks ago on behalf of the Florence County Democratic Party.

They argue the Democrats complied with the State Supreme Court's ruling that candidates who had not filed their statement of economic interest by the March 30th deadline could not be on the June 12th primary election ballot. They say the Florence County's Democratic Party Chairman Sheila C. Gallagher removed the names of the eight Democrats who failed to file in time.

The lawyers say Florence County's Republican Party certified all their candidates, even the ones who failed to file the statement on time.

They're asking the state Supreme Court to stop the GOP from putting those candidates on the ballot.

The SC Supreme Court ordered county Republicans to issue a sworn statement to the court on May 23, 2012 saying its certified candidates all filed a paper copy of a Statement of Economic Interest when filing a Statement of Intention of Candidacy with the county GOP, as required by the court's decision in Anderson v. SC Election Commission.

An affidavit filed by the Florence County GOP Chairman Bill Pickle says on May 4, 2012, he certified 15 candidates for the 2012 Republican primary election.

Pickle says of these 15 candidates, one provided a copy of his Statement of Economic Interest to the party when filing his Statement of Intention of Candidacy in accordance with state law.

The Party Chairman says seven of the remaining 14 candidates who were certified by the Party were exempt from the requirements because they are elected officials who have current Statement of Economic Interest on file with the appropriate supervisory office. He references SC Code of Laws 8-13-1356(B) and 8-13-1356(A).

Pickle says the remaining seven are exempt because each one is a public official and had a current Statement of Economic Interest on file with the appropriate supervisory office prior to filing their Statement of Intention of Candidacy and were therefore exempt. He cites SC Code of Laws 8-13-1356(A), 8-13-1300(4)(b), 8-13-1300(28) when referencing these candidates.