United States congressman William Timmons had a lengthy meeting on Monday evening with an attorney representing Upstate real estate developer Ron Rallis – the estranged husband of his alleged lover, South Carolina socialite Paula Dhier. The meeting – which took place at Hall’s Chophouse in Greenville, S.C. – lasted more than three hours, according to witnesses.
It’s not immediately clear what Timmons discussed with Rallis’ attorney … or whether there was any resolution to a simmering drama that has been moving forward in fits and starts for the better part of the last year.
Witnesses described an “intimate discussion” and said the two exchanged a hug outside the restaurant shortly after midnight as they wrapped up the meeting.
The meeting between Timmons and Rallis’ attorney, Erika Baldwin, comes less than a week after we published our latest report on this drama and just days before Rallis is scheduled to be released from a Greenville jail after serving three months on a criminal contempt charge.
You read that right .. three months. In South Carolina, judges routinely set accused and convicted killers free – but Rallis has been behind bars since early February because he apparently said something a judge didn’t appreciate.
Yeah … we wonder why violent crime in the Palmetto State is skyrocketing?
Adding another layer of intrigue to this story? Baldwin – who hails from Slater-Marietta, S.C – is said to be involved in a romantic relationship with Rallis, one of the Palmetto State’s most eligible bachelors.
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Are you doing a double-take on this story yet? Welcome to South Carolina politics … where elected officials launch their own scandals, watch as they careen wildly off the rails, and then complain about how they are being covered.
Let’s see if we can untangle this web, shall we?
Timmons, 39, initiated his own sex scandal last spring via an unsolicited “prayers and privacy” statement issued to this news outlet responding to rumors of an extramarital affair with Dhier. As I have often reminded readers, this news outlet never asked Timmons for a statement – nor did we indicate we had any plans to publish a story on the allegations against him.
“I would have never covered this story had Timmons’ team not decided to plant a preemptive public statement about it with my news outlet,” I noted last August.
Once the story was out, though … it took on a life of its own.
Timmons’ indignant response to the affair allegations fueled a combustible conflagration as this saga gripped audiences in the socially conservative Upstate for weeks. The congressman also invited scrutiny when he gave his estranged wife, Sarah Timmons, a valuable piece of property – apparently in exchange for her silence as it related to his dalliance(s).
Timmons and his wife formally separated in November 2022.
Other consequences ensued. First, members of the venerable Timmons family threatened to cut him off from his share of the family fortune. And it is not immediately clear whether Timmons is out of the woods with the U.S. House ethics committee – which reportedly received a referral related to his conduct last fall and was preparing a formal investigation.
“Not sure whether the changeover put the kibosh on that,” one Washington, D.C. source told me earlier this year, referring to the “Republican” takeover of the U.S. Congress four months ago.
Timmons’ family is an institution in the Greenville area. His great-grandfather – William R. Timmons Sr. – built an empire in the Upstate beginning in the mid-1920s, focusing on the real estate, trucking, and insurance industries. The family – which helped establish and maintain Greenville’s civic and philanthropic communities – is reportedly worth hundreds of millions of dollars.
Rallis has been housed at the Greenville County detention center since early February, when S.C. family court judge Timothy Madden found him in “criminal contempt” in connection with a sealed case – believed to be his custody battle with Dhier.
Rallis is scheduled to be released in less than a week, which makes the timing of Timmons’ meeting with Baldwin very interesting.
Prior to his incarceration, Rallis proved masterfully adept at advancing the Timmons’ affair story in the mainstream media. In late July 2022, he walked into a West End Greenville church he previously purchased – and painted pink – and gave this news outlet an exclusive interview regarding his starring role in the Timmons’ sex scandal. When the interview was over, Rallis boarded his private jet and headed to the Hamptons … although he didn’t stay there long.
“I’m back in South Carolina full-force, brother,” Rallis told me last September. “I have too much to say that will help people for me to be scared of jail time.”
Rallis has been so good at ginning up drama, in fact, that producers of the Bravo TV reality television show Southern Charm recently offered him a spot on the program.
Timmons is expected to draw numerous credible challengers in next spring’s GOP primary for the fourth congressional district – assuming he runs again. Readers will recall the third-term lawmaker was unopposed last November. But a write-in candidate running against him drew a surprisingly high 9.19 percent of the vote. Prior to being elected to the U.S. House in 2018, Timmons spent two years in the S.C. Senate.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR …
Will Folks is the founding editor of the news outlet you are currently reading. Prior to founding FITSNews, he served as press secretary to the governor of South Carolina. He lives in the Midlands region of the state with his wife and seven children.
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Goodness! I struggled to keep up with who is who in this story. I might have to sketch it out. If I’ve got it straight, Attorney Baldwin is in a romantic relationship with her client, Rallis? That seems…. like it crosses some boundary. Are there any rules in SC that clarify the ethics of such a situation?