One of the South Carolina state lawmakers tapped to study the issue of judicial reform is speaking out against an inherent unfairness in our court system – the ability of powerful politicians to keep their dirty laundry hidden from the public view.
State representative Anne Thayer took to her Facebook page early Wednesday morning to decry this special treatment in connection with the case of U.S. congressman Jeff Duncan – a self-proclaimed “faith and freedom” conservative who is in the midst of a sex scandal involving a Washington, D.C. lobbyist.
News of Duncan’s scandal was exclusively reported by this media outlet on September 22, 2023.
Duncan, to his credit, has handled his extramarital drama infinitely better than his neighboring representative – U.S. congressman William Timmons, whose sex scandal has generated headlines in the conservative South Carolina Upstate for the better part of the last year-and-a-half (and with good reason).
Nonetheless, Thayer was displeased with the seventh-term GOP lawmaker – citing a report from RadarOnline in which Duncan “admitted his estranged wife was entitled to a divorce based on the grounds of adultery” but then proceeded to “ask a judge to stop her from badmouthing him in public.”
Specifically, Duncan requested the court to enjoin his estranged wife, Melody Hodges Duncan, “from discussing this litigation in a public manner, posting about this litigation on any social media sites, or making any disparaging remarks about (Duncan) on any social media site or in another public manner,” according to documents obtained by RadarOnline.
It is not immediately clear whether Duncan’s request for a gag order will be approved … but Thayer was adamant it should not be.
(Click to view)
“Should publicly elected officials get special treatment from our courts?” Thayer mused. “How many of those of you divorced asked for a gag order on your ex-wife? Read that carefully – I didn’t ask how many would’ve like(d) to do so.”
“If you made such a request, do you believe the judge would honor it???” Thayer continued.
That’s a point our media outlet has made repeatedly over the years – including the fall of 2022 when Tally Casey, the Democratic nominee for lieutenant governor of South Carolina, had her family court case sealed by a judge. Casey’s running mate – former U.S. congressman Joe Cunningham – also had his divorce file sealed.
Is such special treatment fair? Hell no … yet for the wealthy and well-connected in the Palmetto State, it happens all the time.
“The sealing of public records for influential individuals is standard operating procedure in South Carolina … yet another example of the preferential treatment received by those in power (or those with proximity to power) in the Palmetto State,” I noted in this 2020 post. “It works like this: When normal people screw up … everybody gets to read about their dirty laundry. When those with ‘connections’ screw up, the sordid details of their dirty deeds are kept under lock and key … zealously guarded by judges who clearly have no conception of the notion of equal protection under the law.”
The problem has become so egregious that our media outlet has added it to the list of reasons we reserve the right to cover candidates’ personal lives.
Generally speaking, unless an elected or appointed official (or candidate) is engaged in criminal activity during the course of an affair, uses government money or resources in the furtherance of an affair or is making official decisions (promotions, appointments, pay raises) based on an affair … we do not care who they are sleeping with.
Exceptions are made for “demonstrable associated hypocrisy” – i.e. when an official campaigns as a pro-family, social conservative or endorses government as an instrument of morality (but then turns around and behaves explicitly counter to these stated principles).
And now for politicians who try and hide their dirty laundry …
In her Facebook post, Thayer made clear she has “always liked” Duncan and that she was praying for him “and his family.”
“However, sadly, I likely won’t be able to support him again,” she concluded.
Duncan has yet to draw an announced opponent in his bid for an eighth term representing South Carolina’s third congressional district, however both he and Timmons are already catching fire for their admitted dalliances. Count on these media outlet to track both of their reelection bids and any additional fallout from their extracurricular activities.
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 and before that he was a bass guitarist and dive bar bouncer. He lives in the Midlands region of the state with his wife and seven (soon to be eight) children.
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