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Saturday, June 12, 2010

Alvin Greene's Win Is Certified, Feds Launch Formal Investigation

S.C. State Certifies Greene's Surprising Primary Win

In a building on Devine Street, in a small conference room on the first floor, a man, a woman and three others patched in by conference call Friday certified one of the most surprising election results in S.C. history.

Alvin Greene - an unemployed military veteran facing a felony obscenity charge, unknown by Democrats even in the rural county where he lives - is the official winner of the S.C. Democratic Party's primary for the U.S. Senate, the S.C. Election Commission decided.

Democrat Party officials scratched their heads over how Greene's candidacy moved forward despite that pending felony charge.

His vanquished primary opponent, former state legislator Vic Rawl of Charleston, wouldn't talk to The State on Friday but is reported to be poring over the results, looking for something that might explain how Greene got 59 percent of the vote.

Meanwhile, the Green Party's U.S. Senate candidate, Tom Clements, is hoping disaffected Democrats will turn to him as the best hope to unseat Republican Sen. Jim DeMint in the fall.

And the 5th Circuit Solicitor's Office is looking into how Greene was able to get a Public Defender, which normally requires that a defendant be broke, to help him with that obscenity charge, given the $10,400 filing fee that Greene paid to run for the U.S. Senate.

Vanity Fair, CNN, MSNBC and The New York Times were among the media outlets poking around Friday for details on the unusual case.

Greene himself answered the telephone Friday at his home in Manning and repeated what Democratic Party officials did not want to hear: He has no intention of dropping out of the race.

"The people of South Carolina have spoken," he said. "I am their candidate. I want to talk about the issues and not anything else. Jobs, education and justice."

It was a refrain Greene offered often during the course of a 15-minute interview, punctuated more than a half-dozen times by interruptions that appeared to be from his call-waiting system.

Asked what people should know about him, Greene paused, said "OK, OK" several times and added he was born in Florence and grew up in Manning.

He served in the Air Force and the Army, which gave him an honorable discharge he described as "involuntary."

"They should know my campaign slogan is, "Let's get South Carolina back to work", Greene said.

Asked if he had help paying his filing fee, as suggested by U.S. Rep. Jim Clyburn, D-S.C., in a conference call on Thursday, Greene said: "I paid that with my own money."

Greene said he campaigned across the state but offered no details of any particular places where he had traveled.

A pair of state legislators who met with Greene Thursday to urge him to drop his Senate bid came away concerned about Greene's mental state.

Asked if they or the people of South Carolina should be concerned about his mental state, Greene simply said, "No."

On Aug. 16, political parties will certify to the State Election Commission that their candidates for the fall election can or will be able to meet the requirements of the office they seek.

Democrats could not replace Greene on the ballot unless he meets narrow, non-political guidelines for stepping down.

Meanwhile, fingers are being pointed at the state Democratic Party, its leaders and others for failing to check out Greene.

Carol Fowler, chairwoman of the S.C. State Democratic Party, said the party's researcher did look into Greene's background but did not turn up anything unusual.

Greene was arrested in November and charged with obscenity after a University of South Carolina student said he showed her pornographic pictures in a computer lab and suggested they go to her room.

Fowler said she did not find out about the charge until after the primary.

Congressman Jim Clyburn Wants Alvin Greene Investigated

The No. 3 Democrat in the U.S. House called on federal authorities Thursday to investigate how an unemployed South Carolina military veteran won the state's Democratic primary for U.S. Senate.

"Here is Alvin Greene, unemployed, he goes into the S.C. Democratic Party headquarters and pays $10,000. That's no little bit of money for an unemployed person," House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn, D-S.C., said. "This guy, who is he? Where did he come from?"

Greene, 32, stunned the Democratic Party establishment Tuesday night when he handily defeated Vic Rawl, a four-term state lawmaker and former judge, for the party's nomination. Rawl, who had campaigned little but already raised $186,000, was forced to scrap a fundraiser planned for Thursday night.

Greene has not reported any fundraising, run any ads, or put up signs in his challenge of Republican U.S. Sen. Jim DeMint. The website was established on Thursday, but it was unclear if it was officially posted by Greene's campaign.

He had been considered such a long shot that neither his opponent nor the media bothered to check his background, which includes a November arrest on a charge of felony obscenity.

Greene, who says he left the military last August after 13 years in the Army and Air Force, has said he paid the $10,440 filing fee by saving up two years of his service pay. On Thursday, Clyburn said he's skeptical Greene paid the fee himself and demanded that federal authorities investigate where the money came from.

"You ought not be allowed to subvert the electoral process in this country," Clyburn said. "I really believe that the federal authorities can get Mr. Greene to talk about where he got his money from and what's behind this."

Party officials asked Greene to sit out of the race after The Associated Press reported he faces a felony charge, which stems from a University of South Carolina student's complaint that he showed her a pornographic website, then talked about going to her room at a university dorm.

"I've recovered. I really have," said that student, Camille McCoy.

McCoy said she wanted to speak out after learning that the man charged in the case is now a Senate candidate.

"I felt it was my duty to let the rest of South Carolina know who's running. You should all be on the lookout because who knows what he wants to do," McCoy said.

But Greene insists he's staying in the race.

"I am a legitimate candidate," Greene said Thursday, in response to questions about Clyburn's investigation request. "There's no need for it."

Arriving for interviews at a Columbia television station Thursday afternoon in a dark suit, driven in a hired car, Greene marked a stark contrast to the day before. On Wednesday, Greene greeted a reporter at his childhood home in Manning, clad in a T-shirt and sweat pants.

Greene would be required to report campaign spending to the Federal Election Commission, which regulates federal campaign finances. But the cash for the filing fee itself is given directly by candidates to the state party they wish to represent, and that money isn't subject to FEC filing requirements, officials with the agency said Thursday.

That answer doesn't satisfy Clyburn, who suspects there is more to be learned about Greene's pursuit.

"He's been paid to stay in it, by somebody," Clyburn said. "I just think this is a ploy by someone to dishonor and embarrass the Democratic Party."

Joel Sawyer, executive director of South Carolina's Republican Party, said Clyburn's allegations are evidence that the state's Democrats know they can't defeat DeMint.

"The Democratic Party is grasping at straws, and making absurd accusations to cover for their laughable incompetence in vetting candidates," Sawyer said. "That being said, if they're not even going to bother doing basic things like checking to see if their candidates have pending felony charges, we're feeling pretty doggone good about November already."

On Thursday, NewsChannel 36 reporter Rad Berky knocked on the door of the home where Greene lives with his father in Manning, S.C.

A Democratic Party activist from Manning, Henry King, who is also a friend of Greene's father, stopped by the house too, hoping to get some answers from Greene.

"I guess politically, people are doing whatever they can to straighten out this mess. I really don't know what to say at this point," King said as he waited outside, hoping Greene would answer the door.

Most Manning residents had no idea Greene was even running, including another longtime family friend, Isaac Mitchum, who voted for Greene, only after seeing his name on the ballot.

Mitchum said he did not know about the felony charge and said it might have changed the way he voted. "But I'd never heard of it," he said. "Far as I know they are fine family people."

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Sources: CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, McClatchy Newspapers, NY Daily News, NY Times, Seattle Times, The State, Vanity Fair, WCNC, Google Maps

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