A police report has been filed by former S.C. Superintendent of Education candidate Kelly Payne against Republican Richard Eckstrom – who is likely to win a third term Tuesday as South Carolina’s Comptroller General.
In the report, obtained exclusively by FITS, Payne accuses Eckstrom of stalking her and says that she is “afraid he may kill her.” Ordinarily we’d dismiss such fear as irrational, but based on Eckstrom’s previous creepy emails (as well as some new communications that FITS has been shown), we can see how Payne might feel that way.
“(Eckstrom) showed up on my property tonight and now he’s stalking me,” Payne says in a frantic 911-sounding call to FITS. “I called the police. They’re on the way to my house.”
The call was recorded at 12:45 a.m.
“His car was in my neighborhood, circling my house,” Payne added. “He’s coming after me.”
In what may be his “signature move,” Eckstrom also planted one of his campaign signs in Payne’s yard.
Eckstrom and Payne’s combative relationship – first revealed by FITS back in February – has taken a dramatic turn in recent weeks, as Payne has sought an order of protection against the 62-year-old, married politician for allegedly threatening her. In one incident, Eckstrom is accused of hurling a garage door opener at the popular public school teacher turned political candidate.
Payne says this isn’t the first time that Eckstrom has stalked her. She also says that she has text messages in her possession in which Eckstrom displays threatening behavior. Eckstrom’s Democratic opponent – Robert Barber – began running a television ad last week attacking the incumbent Comptroller over a pair of personal issues – his extramarital relationship with Payne and a 1997 sexual harassment case that was settled with taxpayer money.
“Incumbent Comptroller Richard Eckstrom’s job is to protect our money, but Eckstrom spent over $57,000 taxpayer dollars to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit against him,” the narrator of Barber’s ad says.
A spokesman for Eckstrom has denied that any threatening behavior – via text message or otherwise – ever took place. Eckstrom’s office also maintains that the harassment suit was filed by a “girl” who got a bad job performance review.
(For pictures of the woman at the heart of that scandal, click here).
Nonetheless, Eckstrom was text-messaging Payne as recently as last week, telling her that he didn’t have an “off switch” for their forbidden, highly-combustible love.
Obviously, we’ll find out tonight whether allegations involving Eckstrom’s increasingly erratic personal life will impact his campaign.
UPDATE: Here’s the incident report.
UPDATE II: Payne has reportedly applied for an order of protection that would prohibit Eckstrom from contacting her.