SC Politics

SC4: The Lawyer-Lover Endorsement

William Timmons gets an unexpected imprimatur …

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Decked out in white cowgirl boots, jean shorts and a Wrangler t-shirt, Upstate criminal defense attorney Erika Baldwin traveled last weekend to a location made famous by her ex-boyfriend and former client – Greenville, South Carolina real estate developer Ron Rallis. There, in a surprise plot twist, she endorsed the congressional reelection bid of Rallis’ nemesis.

Baldwin’s endorsement was the latest chapter in the ongoing ‘Days of our Congressman’ saga involving U.S. congressman William Timmons of Greenville, whose unsolicited acknowledgement of an extramarital dalliance with Rallis’ wife has driven headlines in the conservative Palmetto Upstate for the better part of the past two years.

That saga has imperiled Timmons’ reelection bid in 2024 – as he faces a credible challenge from S.C. Freedom Caucus chairman Adam Morgan.

To recap:  This saga began in June of 2022 when Timmons – mere days after winning the Republican nomination for a third term in Washington, D.C. – provided a now-infamous, unsolicited, 18-word statement to this media outlet asking for “prayers and privacy” in response to allegations of an extramarital affair with lifestyle and travel blogger Paula Dhier.

Dhier’s affair with Timmons reportedly began in 2021 when she was living off-and-on with various members of the Timmons family – including the congressman and his ex-wife, Sarah Timmons. Dhier and Sarah Timmons were longtime friends – “best friends” of more than seven years, in fact – according to multiple sources familiar with the status of their relationship.

Not anymore, clearly …

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The Timmons jointly announced their separation in the fall of 2022. Meanwhile, Rallis and Dhier reached a settlement in their high-profile divorce and custody case last summer. Both court files are sealed. Just last week, in fact, our media outlet published a detailed story on the various machinations accompanying Timmons’ divorce and the sealing of those files.

The apparent goal of Timmons’ preemptive statement? Exposing his affair with Dhier so he could torpedo his marriage, sources familiar with the situation say. The congressman quickly lost control of the narrative, though, and shortly thereafter saw it escape completely from his grasp.

Fueling the headlines? Rallis.

Two summers ago, the wealthy developer walked into a West End Greenville church he had previously purchased – and painted pink – and gave this news outlet an exclusive interview regarding his starring role in the Timmons’ sex scandal. As television crews gathered outside, Rallis spoke passionately about his battle for custody of his daughter with Dhier.

Located at 825 Woodside Avenue in the hipster West End region of downtown Greenville, the “Trap church” is the former home of Bibleway Full Gospel Missionary Baptist Church. The property was purchased by Rallis in early 2022 but the wealthy developer allowed the congregation to continue using the property while they transitioned into a new facility.

Once they had finished moving out, Rallis made his move … turning the building into political performance art.

As I noted in a report filed last fall, Baldwin has been a key player in this unfolding drama – both as Rallis’ lover and as one of his attorneys. And perhaps as both at the same time. When this outlet interviewed her last October, Baldwin declined to comment on the status of either her relationship with – or representation of – Rallis.

“I have never commented on my relationship status with Ron and that’s not going to change this time around,” she said at the time. “I haven’t broken any rules or laws. And I’m not sleeping with married congressmen.”

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This week, however, she endorsed the married congressman – an apparent act of vengeance toward her erstwhile paramour.

“Contrary to popular belief, I do not know the intricacies of the congressman’s personal life,” Baldwin said. “What I do know, however, is that I’ve had nothing but positive interactions with him.”

According to the litigator, her decision was based not on any personal animus toward Rallis but on the Biblical notion of forgiveness.

“Raise your hand if you’ve never made a mistake,” she said. “Raise your hand if you’ve never sinned. Seriously, raise your hand. If you think you deserve the forgiveness of the Lord, then William damn sure deserves yours.”

“Congressman Timmons is a skilled attorney and a successful businessman,” Baldwin continued. “He has served our district well, and I have full confidence that he will continue to do so. He’s got my vote.”

As for endorsing Timmons on the very location where Rallis sought to publicly shame him, Baldwin seemed to imply that she picked up a few pointers on generating press from her former client.

“Stirring the pot?” Baldwin said. “I learned from the best.”

Timmons and Morgan face off against each other tomorrow (June 11, 2024) in the Republican primary election for the Palmetto State’s staunchly conservative fourth congressional district, a seat Timmons has held since 2019. Count on this media outlet to keep our audience in the loop on the outcome of that race, its political fallout and whatever comes next in the ‘Days of our Congressman’ drama.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR …

(Travis Bell Photography)

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 eight children.

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2 comments

JustSomeGuy Top fan June 10, 2024 at 9:29 am

I guess she must have a really great personality. I really have no other explanation.

Reply
Trevor Bauknight Top fan June 10, 2024 at 9:39 am

Trap Chuch?

Reply

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