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Bill Connor: Unauthorized Campaigning?

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Earlier this week we posted an item about former S.C. lieutenant gubernatorial candidate Bill Connor’s interest in challenging U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham (RINO-S.C.) in 2014. In that story, we quoted a text message we received from Connor saying he was prohibited from discussing his political plans while serving on active duty overseas with the U.S. Armed Forces.

“I am on active duty military orders outside the state and therefore cannot talk politics until I return,” Connor told us.

That makes sense. However several hours after our story broke, an extensive interview with Connor was published by another website – an interview in which Conner overtly discussed his future political plans (including his interest in challenging Graham).

“I am strongly considering a run for Sen. Graham’s seat,” Connor said in an interview posted to the website BenSwann.com. “I do not believe that Graham has provided the ‘consistent’ conservative leadership expected by South Carolinians (particularly conservatives).”

Really? Congratulations on that expert analysis, Connor. You are hereby promoted to “Captain Obvious.”

Anyway, Connor goes on to speak extensively in the lengthy interview about his military service, saying he is interested in running against Graham because he “just wants to defend the Constitution in a different manner from the way I defended it as an infantry officer in Afghanistan, Kuwait, Egypt (Sinai), etc.”

The interview – which calls Connor a “war hero” in its headline – concludes with a link to his official website, www.BillConnorOnline.com.

Hmmmm …

Connor certainly appears to have run afoul of Defense Department regulations governing political activity. Specifically, active duty soldiers are not allowed to “make statements to or answer questions from the news media regarding political issues or regarding government policies or activities unless specifically authorized to do so by an appropriate supervisor or commander.”

Did Connor have permission from his superior officer to conduct a political interview with BenSwann.com? We’ve got a call into the U.S. Department of Defense in an effort to determine the answer to that question … so stay tuned, we’ll let you know what we uncover. Also, Connor returns from his current military deployment on August 19, at which point he is expected to formally announce his intention to challenge Graham.

Currently three candidates – Charleston businesswoman Nancy Mace, S.C. Sen. Lee Bright (R-Spartanburg) and social conservative Richard Cash – have said they are going to run against Graham. Former S.C. Treasurer Thomas Ravenel has also hinted at a possible challenge.

Assuming no one gets fifty percent of the vote in next June’s primary election, a runoff election would be held two weeks later.