Sources at multiple state agencies tell FITS they are investigating allegations of attempted bribery in the South Carolina governor’s race.  Specifically, the S.C. State Law Enforcement Division (SLED), S.C. Election Commission (SCEC) and S.C. State Ethics Commission (SCSEC) have received a “credible tip” about an effort to induce Libertarian gubernatorial candidate Steve French to withdraw from the race.

The inducement? A $30,000 bribe …

French’s campaign was not immediately available for comment, but sources investigating the allegation tell FITS a caller identifying themselves as “Tom Hart” reached out to French campaign manager Colin Ross in the wake of a new poll showing incumbent “Republican” Nikki Haley in a dogfight with S.C. Sen. Vincent Sheheen.

The caller reportedly identified himself as a “conservative Republican,” and said he “appreciated where (French) was coming from” but that it was imperative not to “let the liberals take charge” in South Carolina.

To that end, our sources say, French and Ross were offered $15,000 apiece to scrap the former’s gubernatorial bid – specific amounts the caller is said to have “personally guarantee(d).”

The number used by the caller has since been disconnected.

According to our sources, Ross rejected the bribe, advised the caller of the illegality of such an offer and indicated his intention to report the matter to the appropriate authorities.

“(The French campaign) thinks this was probably someone playing a joke – but we take this sort of thing very seriously,” one law enforcement source told FITS. “They were right to report this.  Joke or no joke – a bribe to influence the outcome of an election is a serious matter.”

Hours before the bribe was allegedly offered, The (Charleston, S.C.) Post and Courier  published the results of a new poll showing Nikki Haley with a 13-point lead over Sheheen in a head-to-head race.  That lead shrinks to just four percent, though, in a race with French and self-styled “Independent Republican” Tom Ervin on the ballot.

French is a small businessman from the South Carolina Lowcountry.  He’s campaigning on a plan to grow the state’s economy via tax cuts and reductions in government spending (a.k.a. what “Republicans” are supposed to stand for).