Charleston School of Law (CSOL) professor Constance Anastopoulo – the Democratic nominee for attorney general of South Carolina – has seized upon the release of a grand jury report accusing her Republican rival, two-term incumbent Alan Wilson, of impeding of an investigation into public corruption in the Palmetto State.
According to Anastopoulo, who faces an uphill battle to unseat Wilson on November 6, the grand jury report into the recently concluded #ProbeGate investigation “gave us more disheartening and troubling news about our current attorney general.”
Specifically, she cited sections of the document (.pdf) in which Wilson was accused of dragging his feet on potential charges against several of his political intimates and erecting “tangible impediments to prosecution.”
“The grand jury has concerns regarding the attorney general’s relationship to the subjects of this investigation,” the report stated, singling out clients of his former political strategist, Richard Quinn.
Anastopoulo – who has been campaigning on ethics reform – called on Wilson to resign in the aftermath of the report’s release.
“The fact that an independent grand jury, made up of citizens of the state, makes these findings, stating that a business relationship mattered more to Mr. Wilson than his duties and obligations to the citizens of this state is not only appalling, but also, it shows that Mr. Wilson does not understand or appreciate the role of the attorney general,” she said. “As the chief law enforcement officer of the state, he has failed the citizens. Because of this, and for the respect of the citizens of South Carolina, who don’t need another elected official entrenched in scandal, I ask that Mr. Wilson immediately resign from the office of attorney general.”
Anastopoulo added that “now, more than ever, this is a time in which we need to rid ourselves of the culture of corruption that has infiltrated the halls of our state government for far too long.”
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“We need an attorney general who will bring ethics back to state government, not cover up corruption,” she concluded. “And South Carolina deserves an ethical attorney general who will stand up for her citizens, not be part of the problem.”
Those are compelling arguments. In fact, we made many of them ourselves ad nauseam in chronicling Wilson’s political implosion. Of course, no credible opponent emerged to challenge the embattled attorney general when he was most vulnerable – during the run-up to the 2018 Republican primary election.
Accordingly, Wilson cruised to the GOP nomination – which is the only election that matters in South Carolina statewide races.
Wilson said if he had done anything wrong, he would have been indicted – and blasted S.C. first circuit solicitor David Pascoe for trying to have him found guilty in the “court of public opinion.”
Does the back-and-forth rhetoric between Wilson and Anastopoulo matter? Probably not …
As a Republican running in a bright red state at a time of unprecedented partisanship (tribalism), Wilson is a virtual lock to win reelection next month. However Anastopoulo and her husband, well-known television attorney Akim Anastopoulo, have the potential to plow significant resources into her candidacy.
As of this writing, they have yet to do so … but the release of this report affords them a rare opportunity to launch a potentially impactful campaign (one that could put those resources to good use).
Would a late media offensive be enough to beat Wilson?
Doubtful. Republicans have not lost a statewide election in a dozen years in South Carolina, and with straight ticket voters expected to turn out in droves next month we don’t see them losing one this cycle, either. Also, we don’t see the Anastopoulos going “all in” unless they are confident the investment will have the desired effect.
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