State House

S.C. Circuit Court Candidate Replaced On Legislative Ballot

“She effectively eliminated herself from the race.”

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South Carolina’s Judicial Merit Selection Commission (JMSC) convened this week to discuss an alleged “rule violation” by one of three candidates vying for an at-large circuit court judgeship this election cycle.

The impromptu hearing — overshadowed by vice president Kamala Harris’ incoming visit to the S.C. State House — came one day before members of the S.C. General Assembly were permitted to publicly pledge their support and/or endorsement for judicial candidates.

The focus of Monday’s hearing? Allyce Bailey, a candidate vying for at-large seat 11 who currently serves as deputy county attorney for Richland County. With the exception of her four-person team, the only other individual to attend Monday’s hearing was state representative Joe White.

Upon the commission’s request, Bailey read aloud the first and last portions of S.C. Code § 2-9-70 (C), a statute which prohibits judicial candidates from contacting — either directly or indirectly — members of the S.C. General Assembly prior to a prescribed deadline.

In this judicial election cycle, that deadline is 12:00 p.m. EST today (January 16, 2024).

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The JMSC then presented Bailey with printed text messages she confessed to sending at approximately 9:30 a.m. on Friday, January 12. According to her own testimony, the recipients were a “general group” of family, friends and churchgoers who had expressed an interest in supporting her candidacy. 

While Bailey’s messages were not provided in full, JMSC member Pete Strom transcribed a portion of them in Monday’s meeting.

“This Tuesday is a critical day in the election process. So, if you have time before then to even just shoot a text or leave a voice message, I would be most appreciative. Praying 1,000-fold for your kindness in advance … Hold off! Don’t call until Tuesday at noon!!!!!!”

“I was obviously texting too quickly,” Bailey testified, in part. “And I get that it was a poorly written text message. I was tired and busy and technology gets the best of us all sometimes. But I want to make a distinction between the fact that I was not asking them to text (legislators) or voicemail (legislators) before Tuesday.”

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While at least one JMSC member claimed her text messages were a “clear violation of the law,” the commission nonetheless found Bailey qualified to continue her candidacy. They did not, however, permit her candidacy to continue. Instead, commissioners voted 6-3 to put Summerville, S.C. attorney Russell D. Hilton in the third and final slot on the ballot for this at-large seat – meaning Bailey’s name will not be before lawmakers when they vote to fill this post in the coming weeks.

”That rule violation by Allyce Bailey — I bet you every one of the candidates has broken it, or worse,” a former lawmaker familiar with the process told this media outlet.

Count on FITSNews to continue covering this issue – including a request for JMSC to review all communications with all judicial candidates vying to interpret our laws and determine our proceedings.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR …

Andrew Fancher (Travis Bell)

Andrew Fancher is a Lone Star Emmy award-winning journalist from Dallas, Texas. Cut from a bloodline of outlaws and lawmen alike, he was the first of his family to graduate college which was accomplished with honors. Got a story idea or news tip for Andy? Email him directly and connect with him socially across Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

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3 comments

CongareeCatfish Top fan January 16, 2024 at 10:36 am

Just another garnish on the fecal salad known as the SC judicial selection system.

Reply
jbl1a January 16, 2024 at 12:02 pm

Now on the the general assembly where lawmakers do a rubber stamp approval of the whole lot. Just a crooked system all around

Reply
Happy Jack Top fan January 16, 2024 at 4:57 pm

It appears the rules only apply to the candidates and not the JMSC who refused to hold a vote on a candidate which is a violation of the rules and yet stated he was unqualified.

Reply

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