This week a statement was submitted to FITS by the campaign of Gary Burgess, a Republican candidate for S.C. Superintendent of Education. It is in response to this 2014 post regarding the announcement of his candidacy, and makes reference to this 2009 post regarding a prior arrest.
Below is the statement in its entirety:
Dr. Burgess realizes that some in the news media, his political enemies and the powerful elite in Columbia will play the politics of personal destruction regarding his candidacy, particularly as it relates to an unjustified arrest in April 2009, based on a non-credible charge as determined by a jury of his peers in August 2009. This matter was settled in the City Court of Anderson with the jury returning a not guilty verdict.
In 2009, a non-credible misdemeanor charge was filed against Dr. Burgess by the Anderson City Police Department. Knowing the charge was not credible the city prosecutor tried to pressure Dr. Burgess to plea to a lesser charge. In her own written words, in a correspondence one day before the trial, on August 20, 2009, she continued to try to persuade Dr. Burgess to plea to a lesser charge, “It remains our hope that Gary Burgess will take the offer of Pre-Trial Intervention. I really should have withdrawn that offer by now. But I want to give him the chance to do PTI and still have some sort of career options open to him after this is over. I really think the chances of acquittal are very slim and that even if he is acquitted the news media is going to report the details of what was said. He will never live that down. I would think it will haunt him forever.” This matter was settled in a court of law with Dr. Burgess winning.
The pressure from the city to get Dr. Burgess to plea bargain continued until minutes before the trial on August 21, 2009 (innocent citizens don’t bargain with city hall). Dr. Burgess never sought a plea deal, he never considered a plea deal and he refused to accept a plea bargain. He fought. After a trial that lasted a full day the jury saw the charge was not credible and returned an innocent verdict after deliberating for less than 20 minutes. In America a person is presumed innocent until a court of law says otherwise. Dr. Burgess was innocent before the charge, he was innocent once the charge was filed, he was declared innocent by the jury’s verdict- an innocent man was persecuted. This matter is settled.
We will run a positive campaign; however, the campaign is ready to play hardball when necessary. The United States Constitution should mean something. This matter was settled in court by a jury of Dr. Burgess’ peers. The jury concluded the charge was not credible. The jury was baffled as to why the charge was filed in the first place. This is a settled matter.
The children, teachers, parents, citizens and taxpayers of South Carolina need Dr. Burgess fighting for them– A man who will stand by his beliefs and convictions, not caving-in even when the odds appear to be against him.
Visit www.burgessforsc.org to make a donation and/or let us know how you will support this campaign.
C. Sheree Swindler-Nelson
Volunteer Coordinator, Burgess For SC