SC Superintendent Mudslinging: Much Ado About … Something?

“DIRTY TRICKS” ALLEGED IN ATWATER V. SPEARMAN RACE … There’s a big scandal brewing in the increasingly disappointing and IQ-deflating race for superintendent of education in South Carolina … but odds are you haven’t heard much about it. While it’s been dominating discussion among Palmetto politicos, the vast majority of…


There’s a big scandal brewing in the increasingly disappointing and IQ-deflating race for superintendent of education in South Carolina … but odds are you haven’t heard much about it.

While it’s been dominating discussion among Palmetto politicos, the vast majority of real people – i.e. the 84 percent of the state’s registered voters who didn’t  cast ballots in last week’s partisan primary elections – don’t know about it.

And thus don’t care …

And why should they?  If you thought turnout in the partisan primary elections was nonexistent, wait till you see this week …

As we’ve noted previously the state superintendent’s office in South Carolina wields very little power.  Budgets for government-run schools are set at the local level.  Policy decisions are made by the S.C. General Assembly.  Hell, there’s even a separate agency – the S.C. Education Oversight Committee (SCEOC) – which administers the state’s “accountability” programs.

What does the S.C. Department of Education even do?

That’s a good question …

Anyway, we weighed in on this race not long ago – urging voters to reject the candidacy of uber-liberal “former” Democrat Molly Spearman, who has lobbied for years on behalf of the government-run school system’s bureaucratic class.


Why did we weigh in on such a largely irrelevant race?  Because as politically and constitutionally impotent as the state superintendent’s office may be, it does have a bully pulpit capable of driving the debate in this dumbed-down state – where an alternately lazy and/ or bought-and-paid-for mainstream media stands ready to feed establishment pablum to the intellectually incurious masses at a moment’s notice.

Spearman would use that bully pulpit to benefit her bureaucratic buddies … at the expense of your kids.  As sharp and personable as she may be, Spearman is the personification of this state’s failed status quo – one of the most influential opponents of parental choice, a long-overdue market-based reform our state leaders refuse to embrace in any meaningful or measurable way.

In fact one of the reasons Spearman is running for this office is to help stem the rising tide of public support for school choice.

But we’ve already written that story … this story is about the “bombshell” dropped in the state superintendent’s race last week.

According to a lawsuit filed Wednesday, Spearman’s opponent in Tuesday’s runoff election – establishment “Republican” Sally Atwater – emotionally, physically and verbally abused special needs children placed under her care in Colleton County, S.C.

The suit’s thirteen pages include references to Atwater making “malicious and demeaning comments” about special needs children – allegedly telling some of them they would one day grow up to be “thugs, gang members, or end up in jail.”  

In one bizarre claim, Atwater is accused of shoving a child who was attempting to retrieve candy from a burst pinata – and then stealing candy from the child.

That’s right …

The lawsuit was filed eight days after this month’s GOP primary election – and six days before Atwater’s runoff election with Spearman.  In other words, it dropped at the precise moment one would drop a lawsuit if one’s intention was to inflict maximum damage on a political opponent – while limiting that opponent’s ability to respond.

Don’t get us wrong … this website is not especially enamored with Atwater.  In fact there’s a certain irony to this last minute attack when you consider that Atwater’s late husband, former Republican National Committee chairman Lee Atwater, is pictured next to the “dirty tricks” entry of virtually every political dictionary.

Hell, this website took Atwater to task earlier this year for failing to rebuke her late husband’s shameful tactics …

The irony isn’t lost on the state’s political community.

“This is a legitimate lawsuit – but Lee Atwater would have made a fake lawsuit and made the press report it,” a Democratic operative supporting Spearman told FITS.

Indeed he would have …


Of course Lee Atwater probably would have instructed political operative John Osborne – the Spearman supporter who leaked the lawsuit to reporters – to refrain from claiming responsibility for the resulting detonation.

Which he did …

“I’m doing something with no parachute and no one backing me,” an earnest Osborne told FITS. “And I’m doing it purely because I think it’s right.”

Ah the conscientiousness and introspectiveness of the modern-day political jihadist … touching isn’t it?

Yet while we clearly disagree with Osborne’s logic, who are we to question his sincerity?  Maybe he really does believe a bureaucratic mouthpiece is better in this largely ceremonial position than a political one?

Anyway, Sally Atwater’s campaign isn’t just denying the allegations contained in the suit – or pointing to the naked political hatchetry associated with the timing of its filing.  No … Team Atwater has taken its rapid reaction to another level.

Within moments of learning of the suit through the press (Atwater has yet to be served with court papers), campaign spokesman Luke Byars issued a statement referring to the lawsuit as “one of the lowest political hit jobs I have witnessed in twenty-five years of South Carolina politics.”

Byars added that “over the last couple of months this group has tried to extort almost one million dollars from Mrs. Atwater under threat of filing this lawsuit.”

“To file a frivolous lawsuit against a candidate with less than a week before a runoff is despicable,” Byars concluded, noting that the Atwater campaign had turned over documents to the S.C. State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) and “called for an investigation into this attempt to hijack the election through blackmail and extortion.”

What documents?

We have a copy of the most incriminating one, an email dated April 30 of this year from the attorney who filed the suit.  In the email, the attorney – J. Olin McDougall – states that the specific amount of money sought by his client “is not a negotiable figure.”

“It is a take it or leave it figure,” he writes, adding that “if this amount is not received in my office by the May 1, 2014 due date, I will proceed with filing suit in either Colleton or Richland County and let this case work its way through the civil justice system.”

Here’s that email …

(Click to enlarge)

atwater email

Interesting …

Related documents reference include other threats – including bringing former S.C. Democratic Party chairman Dick Harpootlian in on the lawsuit.

Obviously we have no idea whether Sally Atwater engaged in the sort of conduct she’s been accused of in this lawsuit.  We suspect she didn’t, but we don’t know for sure.  Similarly, we have no idea whether the campaign of Molly Spearman had anything to do with the timing of this lawsuit being filed.  We suspect it did, but again … we don’t know for sure.

All we know is this is the sort of political hit that would have made Lee Atwater proud … which you can take for what it’s worth.

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Rick June 22, 2014 at 8:25 pm

Luke Byars never met Lee Atwater. This is straight out his playbook and as ugly as this may be, you know what is said about karma and Lee Atwater is one of karma’s poster children.

Mike at the Beach June 22, 2014 at 8:34 pm

Man, talk about an election with no good option on the ticket…

RogueElephant June 22, 2014 at 9:13 pm

True. No good option on the ticket but Spearman is much worse than Atwater. Spearman is the establishment, status quo candidate. Her “experience ” is at defeating everything conservatives stand for in ed. A vote for her will insure SC stays last in everything but VD. And more money will fix every problem.

Mike at the Beach June 22, 2014 at 9:36 pm

Probably true, which makes Atwater (unfortunately) the tallest midget in that circus…

Huh? June 23, 2014 at 7:59 am

and Atwater’s sum total of experience seems to be her running on the name recognition of her late husband.

You can listen to her vast experience, knowledge and intellect here-

Sandi Morals June 22, 2014 at 9:47 pm

I am curious whether political operative John Osborne OR attorney , J. Olin McDougall have had ANY contact with Democrat Party candidates for gov, Ervin/wife and/or Sheheen? Are they all friends or do they have a professional relationship?

Mike at the Beach June 22, 2014 at 9:57 pm

I don’t know – that’s a very interesting question, though.

guest June 22, 2014 at 10:24 pm

J – Injured Workers Advocates – Similar to J – Injured Workers Advocates

J. Olin McDougall, II McDougall Law Firm | 843.379.7000. Beaufort, SC. BERKELEY …. Kathryn Williams, P.A. | 865.235.6254. Greenville, SC

Imagine that?

junior justice June 22, 2014 at 9:18 pm


junior justice June 22, 2014 at 10:00 pm

Seriously, after reading the document, if all allegations are true, I would like to be on the jury.

guest June 23, 2014 at 9:24 am

to do what?

justme June 22, 2014 at 9:37 pm

Basically all the principles in the state are in love with Spearman because without real school choice they have no real competition. Basically they can keep doing a bad job and Spearman will protect them.

Guest June 23, 2014 at 9:03 am


karmachic June 23, 2014 at 12:01 am

Molly Spearman knows nothing more about this complaint than any other casual bystander speculating on its origins. It may benefit Ms. Spearman, but it’s not her axe being ground here.

Guest June 23, 2014 at 1:06 am

95% of Molly Spearman’s campaign contributions have come from those who are paid with our tax dollars from school districts (attorneys, consultants, contractors, district superintendents, architects, etc). Here’s a snapshot from
Childs & Halligan, Attys – $3500
Ken Childs, Atty – $100
Thomas Rhodes, Graduation supplies – $3500
MB Kahn School, Contractor, consultant – $300
School Administrators of NY – $500
William Halligan, Atty – $2000
Andrea White, Atty – $500
William Spears, Consultant – $3500
Linsday Consulting – $1500
Martha Jones, Consultant – $500
Kathy Mahoney, Atty – $500
Erin Hardwickpate, Consultant – $250
Trisha Edwards, Husband School Contractor – $1000
Al Berry/Peak, Consultant real estate – $300
Dale Holden, Consultant – $300
Franny Heizer, Bond Atty – $500
Then there are thousands donated from district superintendents (or supts become consultants) – Chester Floyd, Steve Hefner, Frank Morgan, Herb Berg, Thomas White, Keith Callicut, Burke Royster

Look into it June 23, 2014 at 7:55 am

and most of Atwater’s donations have come from people in Washington D.C. What does that tell you about who is the “establishment” candidate in this race?

Sandi Morals June 23, 2014 at 8:27 am

Proof please?

Grrr_Native June 23, 2014 at 1:39 pm
Look for yourself…looks like the majority of her contributions came from the “beltway”.

Donnie June 23, 2014 at 8:01 pm

Receiving contributions from DC conservatives is much better than taking contributions from money grubbing ticks from SC feed off our education tax dollars just like what Molly Spearman has done as director of SC Association of School Administrators (an education lobbying group).

Rakkasan June 23, 2014 at 3:15 am

How well have those “free market’ schools been workin’ for ya? As always, ideas, ideology, and big gaps in the feasibility department.

Huh June 23, 2014 at 3:37 am

Atwater campaign suggests here they learned of the lawsuit through the press — which would mean June 20. Yet the emails from the lawyers were forwarded to Atwater campaign on June 18, according to what you’ve posted. How is that supposed to work?

Smirks June 23, 2014 at 6:47 am

Dumb people run, get voted for by dumb people, and win the dumb election for a dumb seat over our dumb education. SC gets what it deserves, I suppose.

get a life June 23, 2014 at 8:31 am

Dumb people like YOU post on FITS , get voted “up” by dumb people and continue to post dumb comments for dumb people on FITS. FITS gets what it deserves , I suppose.

tomstickler June 23, 2014 at 10:24 am

“Obviously we have no idea whether Sally Atwater engaged in the sort of conduct she’s been accused of in this lawsuit.”

But that does not deter you from opining that she didn’t.

Notimpressedinpawleys June 23, 2014 at 7:40 pm

Oh Tom get back on that median crap in Pawleys. You wing nut democrats beat the republican party on that one.

Slartibartfast June 23, 2014 at 12:29 pm

I will be voting for Sally, tomorrow. She promises school choice and disassociation from Common Whore. It’s not the complete answer, but it is a start. As I have said, before, she is from Union, where your word is about all there is to own. That’s not a guarantee, but it IS something worth considering.

swampland June 23, 2014 at 1:00 pm

Even after adding the IQs of the two candidates, it would be tough to reach triple digits.

G.O.B. June 23, 2014 at 1:30 pm

Luke Byars, son of former DJJ head, Bill Byars?

MPATiger June 23, 2014 at 3:02 pm

Have you heard Atwater”s interview on WORD n Greenville? Difficult to listen to!

Bryan Wqsc Crabtree June 23, 2014 at 3:25 pm

One could argue that neither candidate is the perfect choice given the other six choices in the original primary, but I must say, the interview with Atwater on WORD scared the hell out of me.

Bryan Wqsc Crabtree June 23, 2014 at 3:29 pm

I’ll ask Molly Spearman questions that matter for our kids at 8:05am AM1340 and AM950 Charleston on Tuesday. Bottom line: our kids need the best possible choice, whoever that may be…..

idiotwind June 23, 2014 at 4:02 pm

the job is running a big agency. the super cant do shit about ‘school choice’ or the common core. semi-competent managers are rare enough in SC politics. spearman or thompson could probably do it.

Deb June 23, 2014 at 8:06 pm

———- Forwarded message ———-
From: SCCL E-Mail Tree
Date: Thu, Jun 19, 2014 at 3:01 PM
Subject: SCCL Refutes Spearman on Partial-Birth Abortion

To: SCCL E-Mail Tree
From: Holly Gatling, Executive Director
Subject: SCCL Refutes Spearman

SCCL Refutes Spearman’s Claim

On Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act

In the June 18, 2014, issue of The Free Times, an article about the race for State Superintendent of Education quotes candidate Molly Spearman as saying she sponsored the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act when she served in the State House of Representatives. South Carolina Citizens for Life refutes Mrs. Spearman’s claim and challenges her to document her statement.

“According to the House Journal, Mrs. Spearman did not vote when the bill passed the House 105-4 on February 27, 1997,” said Holly Gatling, Executive Director of and lobbyist for South Carolina Citizens for Life. “Neither did Mrs. Spearman record in the Journal that she would have voted in favor of the law had she been present. Further, I can find no documentation that Mrs. Spearman was a sponsor of the bill, H 3502.” Click here to read the Journal.

South Carolina Citizens for Life strongly supported the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act that outlaws the savage abortion practice of delivering a baby feet first, and while the baby’s head is still in the birth canal, stabbing the baby in the neck and sucking her brains out. The United States Supreme Court has upheld the federal law banning this cold-blooded method of abortion.

Even if Mrs. Spearman can provide some documentation that she sponsored the bill, Gatling said it does not change the fact that she failed to vote on or express support for the all-important pro-life law. “Obviously it was not important to her,” Gatling said, noting the law passed the House and the Senate in less than 90 days.

Gatling said that LIFEPAC, the organization’s state political action committee, endorsed Sally Atwater as the pro-life candidate for State Superintendent of Education in the June 24 Republican Primary Election run-off between Mrs. Atwater and Mrs. Spearman.

The South Carolina Citizens for Life webpage,, displays the LIFEPAC endorsement of Mrs. Atwater and documents Mrs. Spearman’s problematic voting records on right to life issues.

The website states:

Mrs. Spearman did not return the current SCCL Candidate Survey and has a seriously questionable voting record on life issues when she served in the South Carolina Legislature from 1993-1999.

In 1994 during seven days of debate on the Woman’s Right to Know Act — a law requiring the abortion industry to provide women with truthful, accurate information about abortion — Mrs. Spearman voted numerous times with pro-abortion legislators to obstruct, weaken and kill the bill. Not until it was clear that the law would pass did Mrs. Spearman, her finger to the wind, vote for the bill.

On the all-important vote in 1997 to outlaw the savage practice of partial-birth abortion, Mrs. Spearman was not there to vote.

During the 1998 state budget debate Mrs. Spearman joined militant pro-abortion House members to oppose defunding abortion. The defunding amendment passed 78-37, no thanks to Mrs. Spearman.
Saving babies’ lives in South Carolina’s most notorious former abortion facility.

Street address: 1411 Barwell St., Suite 3
Columbia, South Carolina 29201
Mailing address: P.O. Box 5865, Columbia SC 29250
Phone: 803.252.LIFE (5433) Fax: 803.252.3118
e-mail: web:
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Important Links

National Right to Life
National Right to Life News
SC State House

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Oran Smith

GoingBackToCali June 24, 2014 at 4:43 am

maybe the lawyer and family are part of that 84% that you claim arent aware of this race.

Bryan Wqsc Crabtree June 24, 2014 at 12:16 pm

D joined me after the Spearman interview this morning, “I’ll punch him
in the face,” was the response to the bad Atwater interview:
That WORD interview making Atwater look bad – Host says, “I’ll punch him in the face” on live Radio


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