Video: Defeated SC candidate demands investigation

  1. Transcript of: Defeated SC candidate demands investigation

    LESTER HOLT, anchor: Now to politics in an unusual election year and in a state that's had more than its share of political wackiness, from a lovestruck runaway governor to a member of the congressional delegation shouting at the president during the State of the Union Address . What is going on now in the race for one of South Carolina's Senate seats may be the strangest twist of all. Our report from NBC 's Kelly O'Donnell .

    KELLY O'DONNELL reporting: Sure, South Carolina is feeling the heat today, 100-plus degrees; and Democrats are really sweating their unexpected nominee for US Senate , political unknown Alvin Greene .

    Mr. ALVIN GREENE: Well, I did just simple old-fashioned campaigning. You know, nothing fancy or expensive.

    O'DONNELL: The funny thing is, Greene held no rallies, raised no campaign cash, yet pulled in more than 100,000 votes, nearly 60 percent, and that is raising lots of suspicions.

    Mr. DICK HARPOOTLIAN (Former South Carolina Democratic Party Chair): Oh, absolutely. I mean, this is a state where we've had a history of political conspiracies.

    O'DONNELL: So how did it happen? Greene , an unemployed Army veteran, carried both black and white precincts in the Democratic primary . Party officials are stumped.

    Ms. CAROL FOWLER (South Carolina Democratic Party Chair): I'm left with complete mystery. I really do not know or understand. And I hope someone will figure it out.

    O'DONNELL: Today losing candidate, former judge Vic Rawl , filed a protest, saying the electronic voting machines could be to blame.

    Mr. VIC RAWL: Do I believe something happened? Yes, I do.

    O'DONNELL: And there's another twist. Party officials here say they had no idea Greene is facing criminal obscenity charges, accused of showing porn to a college student last fall. He's not commenting and was assigned a public defender . Democrats now wonder how Greene paid the election filing fee, more than $10,000, and some suspect he was paid to run as a political trick.

    Mr. HARPOOTLIAN: Got a public defender , said he was indigent, and then 90 days later has $10,400 extra? Yeah, I think -- I mean, it raises questions.

    O'DONNELL: Greene says it was his money and his idea...

    Mr. GREENE: Because I've nothing to hide.

    O'DONNELL: ...and, like it or not , says he's in the race to stay, giving South Carolina another political stunner. Kelly O'Donnell, NBC News, Columbia.

By
updated 6/14/2010 4:16:08 PM ET 2010-06-14T20:16:08

A U.S. Senate candidate asked for a new Democratic primary Monday after he lost last week to an unemployed military veteran who raised no money and had no signs and no ads.

The Democratic Party's 92-member executive committee plans a hearing Thursday on former state lawmaker Vic Rawl's protest and could order the primary results overturned. State party leaders can't remember that ever happening before. Rawl could also appeal to the state Supreme Court.

Pundits have been puzzled since Alvin Greene, a 32-year-old political unknown, defeated Rawl in the primary to see who would face GOP U.S. Sen. Jim DeMint, the heavy favorite in the fall. Greene won with 59 percent of the vote to 41 percent for Rawl.

Rawl, now a Charleston County council member, says he campaigned statewide, put 17,000 miles on his car and, in the days before the primary, sent out hundreds of thousands of e-mails and automated phone calls seeking voter support. Greene claims he traveled the state to talk to voters, but he had no campaign organization and no website. He did not return a call Monday.

Majority Whip Jim Clyburn, South Carolina's top Democrat in the U.S. House, called on state and federal authorities to probe how Greene came up with the money needed to file as a U.S. Senate candidate. Clyburn says he thinks someone put Greene up as a shell candidate to embarrass the Democratic Party.

Greene claims he saved up his military pay for two years for the $10,440 filing fee he paid in March.

Rawl said at a news conference in Charleston that he suspects Greene's victory is due to either voting machines or software malfunctioning.

"As to who did it, why they did, whether it was an accident or was intentional, I have no idea and I don't feel comfortable commenting on that," he said.

He said several people told him they pressed his name on the touch-screen ballot, only to have Greene's name appear. Rawl says he also heard of at least one voter in the Republican primary who had the Democratic U.S. Senate race appear on her ballot, and he said experts who have analyzed polling data noticed irregularities.

Image: Alvin M. Greene
Mary Ann Chastain  /  AP
South Carolina Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate, Alvin M Greene, holds a campaign flyer he used to show people he campaigned in Manning, S.C.
South Carolina has open primaries, which means voters can choose to vote in either the Republican or Democratic contest.

To get a new primary, Rawl doesn't have to prove that voter fraud happened. He just has to lay out a convincing argument.

"You have to have enough evidence that what you're asserting could have happened," executive director Jay Parmley said.

State Election Commission spokesman Chris Whitmire said the agency is confident in the accuracy of the voting machines, though Democratic state Sen. Phil Leventis on Monday asked to have them all inspected because of alleged voting irregularities. Those included precincts that he said showed more votes for one of the Democratic candidates than were actually cast.

State party Chairwoman Carol Fowler called for Greene to remove his name from the ballot after The Associated Press reported he faced a felony charge related to a November arrest for obscenity.

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Greene was charged with showing obscene Internet photos to a University of South Carolina student, then talking about going to her room at a university dorm. He has declined to comment on the charge, and he has yet to enter a plea or be indicted. He has said he's staying in the race.

He filed for and got a court-appointed attorney, something a prominent South Carolina lawyer said Monday should not have happened if he had the money for the filing fee.

"If he's got $10,000 lying around, he shouldn't get a court-appointed attorney," said Dick Harpootlian, a Columbia defense attorney and former chairman of the state Democratic Party.

In a sworn statement dated days after his arrest, Greene told court officials he was unemployed and earned $1,160 a month. He left blank spaces asking for information on bank account balances, cash or value of any bonds or investments.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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