Voting squabble pits Republican against Republican

Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley and Democrat for governor in S.C. Vincent Sheheen

An unusual challenge played out recently in front of the Charleston County Board of Elections and Voter Registration when the board decided to make a sitting GOP executive committee member an inactive voter.

Samm McConnell, brother of College of Charleston president Glenn McConnell, challenged the voting status of Lanneau Siegling, a veteran party member and an executive committee member from Charleston County.

McConnell's successful protest was based on the fact that on Siegling's voter registration is in Charleston County while property tax records show his primary residence is in Lexington County, elections Director Joe Debney said.

Election officials don't routinely cross-check their records with property tax scrolls, Debney said, adding that Siegling was not registered to vote in Lexington.

So why did one Republican turn on another? McConnell did not return a message seeking comment but he's known to be one of U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham's prominent local supporters. Also: a year ago Siegling gave a big shout-out to one of Graham's recent GOP primary opponents, state Sen. Lee Bright of Spartanburg. His statements of praise - which Siegling said was not an endorsement - was put on YouTube by the Republican Liberty Caucus of SC.

Asked if he would appeal the board's ruling to Circuit Court, Siegling said he has not received the board's decision in writing "(so) it is better that I wait to see the actual decision and options available ... like fixing what issues there may be through the appeals process."

"I can assure you that I will do what I think is best for our Republican Party," he added. "Electing good conservative folks for office should be our first priority, so I don't want others to be able to use me as a distraction from that effort."

This was not the first time political opponents have sought to score points by challenging someone's voting status. Ben Fraser, a perennial local Democratic candidate for Congress, had his eligibility challenged a few years ago because he maintains homes in Maryland and on Wadmalaw Island. But he had claimed his owner-occupied exemption on Wadmalaw so the board upheld his voter registration.

Maryland's Democrat Gov. Martin O'Malley is sending four of his political staffers to South Carolina to work on two South Carolina campaigns this November -Vincent Sheheen for governor and Bakari Sellers for lieutenant governor.

The move should help O'Malley get more of an "in" in the Palmetto State, where he's visited before amid speculation he'll run for president in 2016.

News that out-of-state Democrats were heading down drew barbs from some Republicans. Henry McMaster's campaign took the Maryland out-sourcing to the extreme.

"We MUST stand together and tell these national Democrats that we don't want to raise our taxes, let violent criminals out of prison, and have the federal government undermine our rights," his campaign manager Jeff Taillon said in an email blast to supporters.

Independent gubernatorial candidate Tom Ervin, who still is calling himself an independent Republican -against state GOP wishes - is launching his 23-town hall tour this week with two stops scheduled in the Charleston area, both on Friday.

"Unlike Gov. Haley and Sen. Sheheen, all of Tom's meetings will be open to the public and the media, exemplifying his commitment to transparency and willingness to engage all South Carolinians," Christian Hertenstein, press secretary for the Ervin campaign, said in a news release.

Ervin's two local stops include: 12-1:30 p.m. in Mount Pleasant at the Holiday Inn, 250 Johnnie Dodds Blvd., and 6-7:30 p.m. at Fleet Reserve, 99 Wisteria Road, in Goose Creek.

There's no cases of deadly Ebola virus on the loose in South Carolina now, but you never know when it might arise.

To gauge whether the state is ready, area lawmakers will hold a meeting Tuesday of the Infectious Disease Ad Hoc Committee to see if the state is prepared.

"It's about readiness for a potential outbreak if it does occur," Rep. Chip Limehouse, R-Charleston, chairman of the panel, said.

The meeting will include physicians from the Medical University of South Carolina, and officials from the Centers for Disease Control who will take part through a webcast.

The meeting is scheduled for 2 p.m. Tuesday in room 1127 of the Rutledge Tower at MUSC.