Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) today joined Democrats calling for a state criminal investigation into the mysterious candidacy of Senate nominee Alvin Greene. Greene (D-SC) was able to capture 59 percent of the vote and win the party nomination last Tuesday despite having never campaigned. CREW also filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission over alleged reporting violations by Greene and two other no-name Democratic candidates in South Carolina.
CREW and others have said the investigation should focus on how Greene came up with the more than $10,000 filing fee. Officials with the watchdog group asked South Carolina Attorney General Henry McMaster (R) to investigate whether Greene was “induced” to run in a violation of state law. That’s an echo of the calls from the state Democratic Party and House Majority Whip James Clyburn, who has suggested Greene’s candidacy was part of some sort of conspiracy.
“The people of South Carolina have a right to fair, transparent and fraud-free elections,” said CREW executive director Melanie Sloane. “Paying candidates to run for office and concealing the sources of campaign funds undermines the integrity of the electoral process and threatens our democracy.”
McMaster, who lost his own primary for governor last week, did not immediately respond to a request for comment. But a spokesman for his office told CNN that, “No one has provided this office with any credible allegation or information suggesting criminal wrongdoing.” The spokesman also said any information about criminal activity would be sent to the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division, the state’s investigative authority.
CREW also filed an official complaint with the FEC over an issue we’ve followed closely — why Greene and two other Democratic candidates Gregory Brown and Ben Frasier did not file the required campaign finance paperwork before the election. As we first reported, Brown didn’t file anything with the FEC until last Thursday night, two days after the election and the same day Clyburn charged he was a “plant.” The others have not done so.
Meanwhile, the Democrats have another unlikely ally, Sen. Lindsey Graham, in their request for an investigation. Graham (R-SC) told Politico today that he has “basic questions” about Greene’s candidacy.
“There is some suspicion about his filing fee - I’d like to know how that came about,” Graham told Politico. When asked if he would support an investigation, Graham said, “If people believe the system is compromised - I have a lot of respect for Congressman Clyburn - if he believes it was compromised, yes, I’d call for an investigation.”