A week after losing her re-election bid as Charleston County auditor, Peggy Moseley has filed a protest to have her two GOP primary challengers ruled ineligible.
In their place, she is asking the Charleston County Republican Party to declare her as the only legally qualified candidate in the June 12 vote, even as she finished a distant second to certified nominee Paul Gawrych. She also wants third-place finisher David Engelman disqualified.
The party’s executive committee is expected to decide Thursday evening whether to uphold her protest, Charleston County GOP Chairwoman Lin Bennett said.
In an eight-page filing, Moseley contends neither Gawrych nor Engelman properly submitted a paper copy of their Statement of Economic Interest ethics form simultaneously with their intention of candidacy form.
It’s the same issue behind an S.C. Supreme Court ruling that forced more than 200 Republicans and Democrats off this year’s ballots statewide.
The filing is not a lawsuit before Charleston County’s Circuit Court. Instead, it’s a legal protest of the election that will go to the Charleston County Republican Party Executive Committee, which has about 30 to 50 members.
Gawrych, a former Mount Pleasant town councilman who won 51 percent of the vote last week, said Tuesday he filed properly and has been told as much by GOP officials three times.
“The people of this county have spoken and we are the Republican candidate for auditor. ... They’ll have their meeting Thursday, and we will go from there,” he said. “Other than that, we’re marching on and getting ready for November.”
Moseley said the issue was clouded before the election when Bennett did not return her calls about election and candidate questions. She denied that her protest was a result of not being supported for a sixth term by county Republicans.
“I just got calls telling me it wasn’t right,” Moseley said. “It’s not sour grapes.”
Her attorney, Sam Howell of Charleston, said they plan to present evidence they believe shows Gawrych did not file in a timely manner. Howell also serves as attorney for the Charleston County Board of Elections and Voter Registration, which is not a party to this case.
Howell said the Moseley protest is in the interest of the GOP, because it seeks to clarify the other two candidates’ status before it is challenged by Democrats and possibly preventing a Republican from being on the November ballot.
On Election Night, David Engelman’s wife, Sandi, said she had planned to hire a lawyer to challenge Gawrych’s candidacy on the same grounds, but she said she decided against it.
Engelman said he has no plans to attend Thursday’s hearing unless requested. “Of course, I’m out of the picture now,” he said. “I was out of the picture with the voting, so it doesn’t really affect me in any way.”
Whoever emerges as the GOP auditor nominee will face Democrat Peter Tecklenburg in the Nov. 6 general election.
While almost 250 candidates were removed from the ballot before the June 12 primaries, others — including Senate 41 GOP candidate Paul Thurmond — have had to fight to remain eligible by saying that as current or previous public officials, their economic statements were already available.
Circuit Judge Deadre Jefferson heard a lawsuit last week seeking to decertify Thurmond and is expected to rule soon.