House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn has called for a U.S. Attorney investigation into the mysterious candidacy of Democratic Senate nominee Alvin Greene because he thinks the mischief goes far beyond one wacky race. Clyburn (D-SC), Congress’ highest ranking African American, told TPM in an interview today he believes at least two other Democratic candidates on Tuesday’s primary ballot were planted by people with deep pockets and nefarious motives.
“The party’s choice in the 1st Congressional district lost. The party’s choice for U.S. Senate lost. Sounds like a pattern to me,” Clyburn told TPM. He said Greene was one of three Democratic candidates in three separate races whom the state party didn’t back or even recognize. All three candidates are African American.
One is Gregory Brown, who ran unsuccessfully against Clyburn in the 6th Congressional district. Another is Ben Frasier, who prevailed against state party-favored candidate Robert Burton in the 1st district. Greene, Brown and Frasier have something else in common — they haven’t filed any campaign finance reports with the Federal Elections Commission.
Brown announced his candidacy against Clyburn on Facebook in October, saying he is “concerned about the plight of our District and specifically the areas of health, education, and economics.” His Web site uses the state Democratic party’s address and no contact information. Brown did not immediately return a call to a company he’s listed as working for in a local press account. The Times and Democrat reported he is president of Keystone Enterprise Inc.
Unlike Greene, who appears to have mounted no campaign at all, Brown actually mustered a campaign, according to Clyburn. Brown paid his filing fee, ran television ads on the most expensive station in the district and put his campaign slogan on billboards and yard signs, Clyburn tells TPM.
“Somebody paid for all that, yet he showed not one dime in contributions. He spent $300,000 if he spent a penny,” Clyburn said. Brown only earned 5,500 votes, losing to Clyburn who won 90% of the vote.
In the third race that Clyburn calls suspicious, the 1st Congressional District, Frasier won even though the establishment-favored candidate, Robert Burton, raised and spent $100,000. Frasier’s campaign didn’t file any details about his spending with the FEC. But he’s far from a first-time candidate, having run nearly three dozen times — and losing — for elected office. Frasier has run as a candidate for both parties, and has even been accused of being a Republican plant and not qualified to be a candidate in the past, according to local press accounts.
Frasier doesn’t have a campaign Website or Facebook page we could find, but Frasier beat Burton by about 2,200 votes or 56%-44%. I spoke with Burton campaign manager Ann Beser this morning and told her about Clyburn’s accusation that Frasier is a plant. She agreed it’s possible, saying, “There is something radically wrong.”
Beser said that since election night the Burton campaign has been doing precinct tallies and has seen numbers that far surpass what turnout had expected to be, including all-white precincts where Greene beat Senate candidate Victor Rawl and Frasier beat Burton. Both Rawl and Burton are white. “None of it makes sense,” she said.
Attempts to locate Frasier or a representative of his campaign were not immediately successful.
This morning Clyburn told radio host Bill Press he considers Greene a “plant” and he called for the U.S. Attorney to look into potential charges as to how an unemployed man paid $10,000 to be placed on the ballot and then came out of nowhere to win.
“All the Democrats I know were pushing for Victor Rawl,” Clyburn said in our interview. “No Democrat I know ever heard of Alvin Greene.”
Additional reporting by Lucy Madison