He said/he said: Hard to keep up with this Dem chair race

I’m really busy today with Mad Man stuff, but if I don’t go ahead and share some of this stuff with y’all I’ll never catch up again.

Since my last post on the subject last night, SC Democratic Party chairman candidate Phil Noble has sent out TWO more releases in his war of words with opponent Dick Harpootlian. Here’s one:

Noble: Harpootlian’s Response Inadequate – Contributions to GOP
are Insider Politics as Usual

Yesterday, I called on Dick Harpootlian to withdraw from the race for South Carolina Democratic Chair after it was revealed on a political blog that he contributed more than $15,000 dollars to Republicans like Jake Knotts and Henry McMaster.

I was very disappointed he didn’t seem to take this seriously. He essentially dismissed the issue by saying he’d given much more to Democrats than Republicans, and Democrats should be happy about that. He didn’t even say that he regretted what he did, or that he wouldn’t continue to do it in the future.

This is not a trivial concern.

How does a party chairman go out and recruit Democratic candidates to run against Republican incumbents to whom he has personally made substantial financial contributions?

How does the leader of a party recruit volunteers and donors to support a Democratic candidate who is trying to unseat those Republicans he apparently admires enough to write them a big check?

I believe the Democratic party in South Carolina needs to set a new course. We need to show the people of this state that we do have a fresh vision for the future that does not include good ole boy politics, backroom deals, and an I’ll-scratch-your-back-you-scratch mine mentality.

I was particularly disappointed that Dick’s response to this matter was to resort to the old politics of half-truths and misinformation to discredit me.

Here are the facts:

Fact 1: I gave money to Barack Obama via his website within an hour of his announcement. Early in 2007, long before he was a popular candidate in South Carolina, I was organizing lit drops, and precinct activities to help his campaign get off the ground. I was proud of my support for him then, just as I am now.

Fact 2: I am a member of the board of the South Carolina Archives and History Foundation. As a board member, I was asked to contribute to the mounting of an official state historical marker designating the site of the signing of the Ordinance of Secession. It had nothing to do with supporting the idea of secession of the civil war. The same evening the marker was dedicated, a “Secession Ball” was held in Charleston. While that event was underway, I was speaking at an NAACP rally protesting the Ball.

Fact 3: My opponent claims that in 2002 I contributed $900 to a conservative Illinois Republican by the name of Phil Crane. This is simply not true. I don’t support his far-right politics, and I certainly have never given him any money. Period, full stop. As I said in my original statement, I have never given money to a Republican candidate and I never will. Any records that would appear to contradict this are obviously in error or fraudulent, and I’ll be happy to release my check register or bank records from that year or any year to verify that I don’t give money to Republicans.

We need to have a debate on the future of our party and how we can change and win. Let’s move forward and have that conversation now.


And here’s the other:

Former FEC Commissioner: Harpootlian Charge Rests On Fraudulent Documents From Convicted Felon

Yesterday, I called on Dick Harpootlian to withdraw from the race for South Carolina Democratic Party chair after it was revealed that he has contributed more than $15,000 to Republican candidates for office in South Carolina.

To my surprise, Dick responded to this news by actually trying to justify these donations to right-wing Republicans like Jake Knotts and Henry McMaster, and by accusing me of having given a $900 donation to an Illinois Republican named Phil Crane in 2002. As I immediately made clear in a statement last night, I have never given money to Phil Crane or any other Republican and I never will. “Any records” I said, “that would appear to contradict this are obviously in error or fraudulent.”

Today, former Federal Election Commissioner Scott Thomas has come forward to tell us it was the later.

“Christopher Ward was treasurer of the Phil Crane campaign when this fraudulent donation was allegedly made by Phil Noble,” Thomas said in a statement issued today. “Ward was a crook and he pled guilty in 2010 to massive embezzlement from several political committees. Ward committed multiple scams, frauds and forgeries affecting many party and candidate committees where he served as treasurer. One of his tricks apparently, was to move money from a party committee account to a candidate committee under false names so he could then embezzle the funds more easily. This would explain why Noble’s name was fraudulently used by Ward and the Crane campaign.”

Commissioner Thomas was a Federal Election Commissioner from 1986 – 2006 during the time that the fraud was perpetrated. He is available for comment by phone at 202 420 2601 or email at thomasscott@dicksteinshapiro.com.

Statements and Stories detailing Chris Ward’s Fraudulent Campaign Finance Activity:

I suppose I need to step out of the way before I get hit in the head by another one from Harpootlian…

10 thoughts on “He said/he said: Hard to keep up with this Dem chair race

  1. Doug Ross

    Seems odd that the Chairman of the Unparty would spend so much energy trying to stay in good graces with two of the most partisan people in SC state politics.

    How could you support EITHER of them?

  2. bud

    fascinating theater. Not sure it a negative if Harpootlian contributed to a Republican. I think it gives him a bit of credibility when he claims his guy is the best candidate. If he at one time gave to a Republican then he comes across as someone who looks at the person not the party affiliation.

  3. Brad

    Doug, I tell you what… I feel kind of trapped in this thing now.

    First, I thought it was an entertaining fact that Harpootlian was running again. Then, since I had been wanting to kick-start “The Brad Show” again, I thought he would be a good first guest, and I invited him a couple of weeks back.

    Well, that made me feel like I had to have Phil on, too — especially since he had taken exception to my suggesting that Dick was a shoo-in. So I invited him. And we haven’t figured out the logistics.

    Then, on the day that I’m about to post the new “Brad Show,” Phil goes on the attack. So I feel like I need to report THAT. Then Dick attacks back, and since I had reported the original, I had to report the response. But I was getting tired of it.

    Then Phil attacks back TWICE, and then sends me an email to make sure I got them… so I didn’t see any way not to post those releases, too…

    Of course, I can stop any time and tell them all to go to hell. But I’m trying to be even-handed.

    Speaking of even-handed — aren’t the Republicans having a chairman’s race? Why aren’t they kicking up more of a fuss? Maybe they’re waiting to let the Democrats tear each other apart first…

  4. Mike

    Good explanation, Brad…because I was thinking the same thing along the lines of Doug. I do beleive you said however that the un-partisan in you liked the fact that Harpo had given to Repubs, too. Nonetheless, I’m sure you’ll agree with me that Harpo is the personification of a hyper-partisan. He’s certainly no Joe Riley endorsing Lindsey Graham. He’s not even a Joe Erwin – who even though he was the face of the South Carolina Democrats, you got the sense that he was maybe a moderate businessman and civic-type guy first. No, Harpo is one of our states leading uber-partisans (and they exist on both sides, of course) and exactly the type of guy one would expect the chair of the South Carolina Un-Party to cringe! But I get your explanation.

  5. Phillip

    This rather unseemly war of words over the not-exactly-plum-job of Democratic party chairman in SC reminds me of the old adage about politics in academia being so particularly bitter and vicious precisely because the stakes are so low.

  6. Karen McLeod

    A plague on both their houses. I am tired of partisan bickering even when its among similar partisans. Can anyone remember what civil discourse is?

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