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LOCAL GOP CHAIRWOMAN CAPTURED ON CAMERA TRYING TO BULLY CANDIDATE

Charleston County (S.C.) Republican Party chairwoman Lin Bennett attempted to talk a reform candidate out of running for the S.C. House of Representatives against one of her favored “Republican in Name Only” incumbents – and then provided inaccurate filing information that nearly got the candidate booted from the 2012 primary ballot.

Best of all? The entire exchange – which took place two months ago – was caught on camera.

In a video posted to YouTube this week, Bennett is seen attempting to talk reform candidate Peter vonLehe Ruegner out of running against S.C. Rep. Chip Limehouse (RINO-Charleston) – a notoriously corrupt fiscal liberal who serves as one of S.C. Speaker Bobby Harrell’s top lieutenants (and whitewashers) at the State House.

“I’ve been praying a lot and I will be running for the House of Representatives,” Ruegner tells Bennett.

“You haven’t been praying well,” Bennett responds. “Can I talk to you about this before you do this?”

Bennett then attempts to convince Ruegner not to run against Limehouse – in direct violation of her obligation to remain neutral in the primary process.

“You can do this but I want you to understand the implications of what you’re going to do,” she says.

“What don’t I understand?” Ruegner asks.

“Well I’m not going to say it in front of all these people so I need to talk to you personally, okay?,” Bennett responds. “Then if you still want to do it, you’re welcome to do it.”

“I do believe that this is what God’s will is for me,”  Ruegner tells Bennett.

“I don’t,” she responds.

“Well I do,” Ruegner says, asking Bennett to “please go ahead and file it.”

At this point, Bennett asks Ruegner’s supporters to leave the office so that she can talk to him alone.

“Can y’all step out of the office please?” she says. “I need to talk to this gentleman.”

Ruegner refuses, at which point Bennett begrudgingly files his paperwork. Later, she tells Ruegner “I have a seat for you but you wouldn’t call me to talk about it.”

Here’s the video …

Amazing … of course it gets even better.

Bennett also told Ruegner not to submit his statement of economic interest along with his candidacy. In fact, she refused to accept the printed copy of this required document that Ruegner brought with him to file.

“I printed all of the information and brought it in because I wanted to do it properly,” Ruegner told FITS.

Ruegner was permitted to remain on the ballot because he followed the law and brought his statement of economic interest with him when he filed.

As we previously reported, Bennett has been habitually violating her responsibility to stay neutral in the primary process by openly campaigning for specific candidates and working to protect fiscal liberals like Harrell and Limehouse. In exchange for her advocacy, Harrell helped save Bennett’s job earlier this week when a group of fiscal conservatives attempt to oust her.

Bennett gained infamy in S.C. political circles earlier this year when she defended S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley’s “Savannah River Sellout” – a flagrant betrayal of our state’s economic and environmental interests. Days later, however, it was revealed that Bennett had privately referred to Haley as a “fraud” during the latter’s 2010 general election campaign.

In addition to serving as Charleston County’s Republican Party Chairwoman, Bennett is also the first vice chairman of the S.C. Republican Party.