COLUMBIA — The removal of more than 250 candidates from the ballot in South Carolina has had significant financial ramifications for state Republicans.
Matt Moore, the executive director of the S.C. Republican Party, confirmed that the party has taken out a loan of more than $300,000 to cover the legal costs of the ballot mess.
“Life’s not fair, and sometimes you get left holding the bag,” he said.
The cash allowed the party to focus on “getting every possible candidate back on the ballot,” he said.
“Our goal is to win every election possible,” Moore said. “We can deal with the legal fund next year.”
The party’s executive committee voted in May to cover county Republican parties’ legal costs. County parties were named in the vast majority of lawsuits stemming from the mass ballot disqualifications.
The S.C. Democratic Party would be facing the same straits if not for its chairman, Columbia lawyer Dick Harpootlian.
Harpootlian’s firm has covered the majority of the legal costs in ballot cases, said Amanda Loveday, executive director of the state Democratic Party.
Loveday said some candidates chose to hire their own attorneys.
Any lawsuit the state party was named in, Harpootlian’s firm covered, she said.
Loveday said without the pro bono representation, the party could have been on the hook for as much as a half- million dollars.
“I think that it’s important to see the differences between how the two parties handled the situation,” she said. “The Republicans could have fixed this, but they didn’t and their lawyers are still stuffing their pockets with Republican dollars.”
The mass of candidates were kicked off the ballot this year because of con
“The Republicans could have fixed this, but they didn’t and their lawyers are still stuffing their pockets with Republican dollars.”
The mass of candidates were kicked off the ballot this year because of confusion over financial disclosure filing requirements.
An effort to restore the candidates to June primary ballots died in the Republican-controlled S.C. Senate in May. Officials from both parties attempted to blame the opposing party for the failed bid.
Moore said the GOP’s loan will be paid back within the next year. “It’s just a small bump in the road,” he said.
Moore said the party’s annual budget in recent years has been about $1 million.
He said the party’s focus is on passing a law that will make sure the ballot crisis never happens again. The S.C. GOP will report its loan in the party’s fourth-quarter financial disclosure, the same quarter Democrats will report the Harpootlian law firm’s free representation as in-kind donations, the party executive directors said.