REPUBLICANS’ SECOND-IN-COMMAND ACCUSED OF ILLEGALLY OFFERING INDUCEMENT TO CANDIDATE
Lin Bennett – the leader of the Charleston County (S.C.) Republican party and the first vice chairwoman of the SCGOP – is the subject of a complaint filed this week with S.C. Attorney General Alan Wilson’s office.
The complaint was filed by Peter vonLehe Ruegner, a candidate for the S.C. House. Ruegner alleges – with video evidence – that Bennett attempted to illegally induce him into dropping out of a contested primary against S.C. Rep. Chip Limehouse (RINO-Charleston). The incident in question took place on March 24, 2012 when Ruegner filed his paperwork to challenge Limehouse.
After browbeating Ruegner and trying to convince him not to run against Limehouse, Bennett can be heard on the video telling him “I have a seat for you but you wouldn’t call me to talk about it.”
“No County or Statewide Chair should ever try to ‘arm twist’ or ‘bribe’ a candidate in order to influence their decision to run for office, Ruegner writes in his complaint. “Unfortunately, that was exactly my experience when I filed my candidacy for SC House 110.”
“It is clear that Ms. Bennett knowingly attempted to induce me to withdraw my candidacy and bribe me to prevent me from pursuing the SC House 110 candidacy,” Ruegner adds. “This is clearly in violation of the SC Code of Laws.”
He’s correct. S.C. Code Section 7-25-200 specifically states that ”it is unlawful to offer or accept, or attempt to offer or accept, either directly or indirectly, money, a loan of money, or any other thing of value which includes, but is not limited to, employment or the promise of employment to induce a person to file or withdraw as a candidate for any state or federal elected office.”
The S.C. Attorney General’s office was not immediately available to respond to our request for comment on Ruegner’s complaint. Meanwhile the SCGOP has refused repeated requests for comment regarding this incident and other controversies involving Bennett.
Sad … it’s one thing for a party functionary to serve as a status quo hack (that’s pretty much par for the course in South Carolina), but it’s another thing entirely for them to break the law while doing so.
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 Limehouse and House Speaker Bobby Harrell. In exchange for her advocacy on behalf of his big government agenda, Harrell recently helped save Bennett’s job last month when a group of fiscal conservatives attempt to oust her from her position.
Prior to that, 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.