Viers status in question after harassment arrest
Mon, 09 Jan 2012 23:25:23 GMT —
Now that State Rep. Thad Viers has ended his campaign for Congress, following his arrest last week, his future in his current state house seat is also in question.
Viers plans to fill out the remainder of his state house term, though he could be suspended from office, if he is indicted.
Also left unanswered is what will happen to Viers' campaign contributions that will now not be used to help him run for Congress.
Viers' ex-girlfriend filed a first degree harassment charge against him last week. A police report says Viers continued to call, text, and email her, along with showing up at her home and workplace, after she told him not to contact her.
State law says a member of the General Assembly who is indicted for a crime with a sentence of two or more years, must be suspended from office immediately.
First degree harassment carries a 3 year sentence, but Viers hasn't been indicted.
His Columbia attorney, Dylan Goff, points to an email Viers sent his former girlfriend, in which he apologized for a botched marriage proposal.
"I should have never proposed to you that way..." Viers wrote in the email. "It looked desperate and insincere..."
Goff says nothing in the email indicates actions that would constitute stalking or threats of violence.
"It is unfortunate that it's playing out here in the public eye, but I think you'll see something of a very personal, private nature and surely nothing threatening or bringing it to the level of harassment," Goff said.
Goff doesn't know what Viers will do with the more than $100,000 he collected for his Congressional campaign.
Federal election law allows candidates who drop out of a race to refund contributions, though campaign funds may also be donated to a charitable organization or transferred to a political party.
Remaining campaign funds could also be used in a future election. Goff said that is not out of the question for Viers.
"He won't be seeking re-election to his House seat but he has not ruled out any future political ventures," Goff said.
NewsChannel 15 asked several of Viers' biggest campaign donors how they would like to see his campaign funds used. None were willing to speak on the record, though one contributor said he would prefer the funds be donated to charity.
Viers is serving his fifth term in the state house of representatives.