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October 25, 2006 | South Carolina Headlines


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Neither McMaster Nor Richter
Jimmy Moore
May 28, 2002

The 2002 Republican Attorney General’s race in South Carolina has become a back and forth exchange of accusations between former Circuit Court Judge and state senator Larry Richter and former SC GOP Chairman Henry McMaster.

It is my contention that neither one of them deserves to be South Carolina’s next Attorney General!

Larry Richter has several problems. He took out a $250,000 personal loan for his campaign for Attorney General. While there is nothing wrong with doing this, per se, it is certainly suspect. Does he plan on spending any of that money or is he just sitting on it to pad his campaign war chest to boast to his supporters about?

Then there is the 14-year-old land deal with a man who was convicted of smuggling drugs. Richter sold the land, located in Mt. Pleasant, for $55,000 in cash in 1988. The land was later siezed as part of “Operation Jackpot” because it was bought with drug money. Many have said that Richter attempted to cover up the details of this deal. Richter claims there was nothing illegal done on his part regarding the deal.

Richter concludes that this issue should have no bearing on his race for the Republican nomination for Attorney General. He says that this "has nothing to do with my years of service before and after." When asked why he decided to withdraw from the race for a second term as Circuit Court judge in 1988 after the land deal first became public, Richter claims that he “was disillusioned.” He proclaimed “if that was public service, I didn't want to be any part of it." I guess he changed his mind now that he’s running for Attorney General!

Do we really want the top cop in the state with such a shady background?

There has already been one candidate in this Attorney General’s race who was forced to withdraw because of something that has happened in his past. Spartanburg State Senator John Hawkins, who was widely considered the leading candidate in the Attorney General’s race, was forced out of it in March 2002 after a 1989 rape charge that was dropped became public. It was not the first time this old allegation was brought up in a political race. However, since this was Hawkins’ first run for statewide office, he feared that people across the state may misconstrue the information. He surmised that it was in the best interest of his family to remove himself from the race completely. This decision by Hawkins led to a late entry into the Attorney General’s race soon thereafter by none other than the infamous South Carolina Republican Party leader Henry McMaster.

Henry McMaster brings a sundry of problems of his own to the Attorney General’s race, too. The financial shambles he left the South Carolina Republican Party in may result in irreparable damage to the immediate success of the Party in the upcoming elections in 2002 and possibly in 2004.

With over $275,000 in accumulated debt since 1998 that has never been reported to the Federal Election Commission as required by law, the state GOP is staring into a financial black hole. Also some questionable tactics used by McMaster during the 1998 gubernatorial re-election campaign for Gov. David Beasley may end up costing the party $700,000 in fines for violating federal election campaign laws. This may result in less money available to the Republican candidates who survive their primary races as they face well-funded Democratic competition in November, especially in the Governor’s race.

Newly-elected Republican Party Chairman Katon Dawson has his hands full trying to mop up the mess left by McMaster. Tommy Hartnett, who was the Interim Chairman for three weeks after McMaster decided to enter the Attorney General’s race, said that "it's not the party's fault. It's the fault of those managing the headquarters. I found the party business records in terrible shape."

McMaster rationalizes the debt by saying that he had to decide whether he would pay the bills or win elections. He claims to have chosen the latter when he said that "there's no substitute for victory." McMaster is now blaming inexperienced clerical help as the reason for the audit on the state Republican Party.

Can you believe that Henry McMaster now thinks he is qualified to become the next Attorney General of South Carolina?

The only man in the race for Attorney General of South Carolina who does not come with excessive baggage is former Deputy Attorney General Jon Ozmint. This man is so honorable that he stepped down from his position in the Attorney General’s office to run for the top law enforcement job in the state himself. Although he is a political outsider, his record for prosecuting criminals is unmatched by any of the other candidates. Even his political opponents have been complimentary of Ozmint because of his confidence and genuineness. Without a doubt, Jon Ozmint stands above all the other candidates in the race for the Republican nomination for South Carolina Attorney General.

What do YOU think?

Have Larry Richter and Henry McMaster disqualified themselves from being Attorney General of South Carolina because of the suspicious problems from their past?

Should we forgive these past allegations and let bygones be bygones?

Do you agree that Jon Ozmint is the ONLY choice for Republicans in the primary race for Attorney General?

Click on the "Comment On This Article" button below to discuss the GOP Attorney General’s race and tell us what YOU think.

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