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Bobby Harrell Jr.

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Bobby Harrell Jr.
Bobby Harrell.jpg
South Carolina House District 114
Suspended
In office
1992 - Present
Term ends
November 10, 2014
PartyRepublican
Leadership
Speaker of the SC State House
2005-Present
Chairman, Ways and Means Committee, SC House
1999-2005
Majority Leader, SC State House
1997-1999
Compensation
Base salary$10,400/year
Per diem$140/day
Elections and appointments
Last electionNovember 6, 2012
First elected1992
Next generalNovember 4, 2014
Term limitsN/A
Education
High schoolMiddleton High School (1974)
Bachelor'sUniversity of South Carolina, 1978
Personal
BirthdayMarch 7, 1956
Place of birthOrangeburg, SC
ProfessionBusiness Owner
ReligionBaptist
Websites
Office website
Personal website
CandidateVerification
Robert W. "Bobby" Harrell Jr. is a Republican member of the South Carolina House of Representatives, representing District 114. He was first elected to the chamber in 1992. Harrell was chair of the Freshmen Caucus in 1993. He served as Majority Leader from 1997 to 1999, and chairman of the Ways and Means Committee from 1999 to 2005, before becoming Speaker of the House on June 21, 2005.

Harrell suspended himself as Speaker of the House and from his office on September 11, 2014, in order to focus on addressing nine ethics and misconduct charges filed against him.[1]

Biography

Harrell earned his B.S. in Business Administration from the University of South Carolina in 1978. His professional experience includes being the owner and operator of a State Farm Insurance Agency for more than 30 years and on the Highway 61 Commission from 1991 to 1992.[2]

Committee assignments

2013-2014

At the beginning of the 2013 legislative session, Harrell served on the following committees:

South Carolina Committee Assignments, 2013
Operations and Management, Ex-officio member

2011-2012

In the 2011-2012 legislative session, Harrell did not serve on any committees.

Issues

Hydrogen funding

Harrell and then-Gov. Mark Sanford (R) were at odds for much of the time after Harrell took over as Speaker in June 2005. Harrell blamed the state's high unemployment rate on Sanford's economic development strategy.[3] Sanford believed the way to grow jobs was through broad-based reforms such as eliminating the corporate income tax and providing for an optional flat tax, while Harrell has preferred to rely on targeted incentives for businesses and industries.

Among Harrell's biggest focuses has been in the area of hydrogen and fuel cell research - claiming that "South Carolina is on the edge of what could become a multitrillion-dollar industry over the next 20 years - the beginning of a hydrogen revolution." The results, however, have been mixed, according to the Libertarian-leaning South Carolina Policy Council. More than $40 million in tax dollars have been invested in hydrogen research in the South Carolina Midlands alone, with the net result being the creation of a few hundred jobs, according to the Speaker's Office.[4]

Elections

2014

See also: South Carolina House of Representatives elections, 2014

Elections for all 124 seats in the South Carolina House of Representatives will take place in 2014. A primary election took place on June 10, 2014. The general election will be held on November 4, 2014. The signature-filing deadline for candidates wishing to run in this election was March 30, 2014. Mary Tinkler was unopposed in the Democratic primary. Incumbent Bobby Harrell, Jr. was unopposed in the Republican primary. Sue Edward is running as a Green Party candidate. Tinkler, Harrell and Edward will face off in the general election.[5][6]

2012

See also: South Carolina House of Representatives elections, 2012

Harrell was re-elected to the District 114 seat in the South Carolina House of Representatives in the 2012 election. Harrell ran unopposed in the Republican primary on June 12 and defeated Larry Carter Center (G) and John Steinberger (I) in the general election, which took place on November 6, 2012.[7][8]

South Carolina House of Representatives, District 114, General Election, 2012
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Republican Green check mark transparent.pngBobby Harrell, Jr. Incumbent 73.9% 11,493
     Green Larry Carter Center 9.5% 1,473
     Independent John Steinberger 16.2% 2,512
     Other Write-Ins 0.5% 70
Total Votes 15,548

2010

See also: South Carolina House of Representatives elections, 2010

Harrell ran unopposed in the June 8 Republican primary for District 114 of the South Carolina House of Representatives. Harrell won, after running unopposed, in the general election on November 2.[9]

South Carolina House of Representatives, District 114 (2010)
Candidates Votes Percent
Green check mark transparent.png Bobby Harrell (R) 8,488 98.86%
Write-In 98 1.14%

2008

See also: South Carolina House of Representatives elections, 2008

On November 4, 2008, Harrell won re-election, after running unopposed, to the South Carolina House of Representatives with 12,940 votes, representing District 114.

Harrell raised $361,053 for his campaign.[10]

South Carolina House of Representatives, District 114 (2008)
Candidates Votes
Green check mark transparent.png Bobby Harrell, Jr. (R) 12,940

Campaign donors

Comprehensive donor information for Harrell is available dating back to 1996. Based on available campaign finance records, Harrell raised a total of $1,920,154 during that time period. This information was last updated on July 11, 2013.[11]

Bobby Harrell, Jr.'s Campaign Contribution History
Year Office Result Contributions
2012 South Carolina State House, District 114 Won $555,212
2010 South Carolina State House, District 114 Won $217,812
2008 South Carolina State House, District 114 Won $361,053
2006 South Carolina State House, District 114 Won $258,584
2004 South Carolina State House, District 114 Won $153,846
2002 South Carolina State House, District 114 Won $103,740
2000 South Carolina State House, District 114 Won $178,255
1998 South Carolina State House, District 114 Won $56,124
1996 South Carolina State House, District 114 Won $35,528
Grand Total Raised $1,920,154

2012

Harrell won re-election to the South Carolina House of Representatives in 2012. During that election cycle, Harrell raised a total of $555,212.
South Carolina House of Representatives 2012 election - Campaign Contributions
Top contributors to Bobby Harrell Jr.'s campaign in 2012
Republican Caucus of South Carolina$5,000
South Carolina Association of Certified Public Accountants$2,000
AT&T$2,000
Palmetto Gunite Construction$1,500
Se Spine Inst Real Estate Partners LLC$1,000
Total Raised in 2012$555,212
Source:Follow the Money

2010

Harrell won re-election to the South Carolina House of Representatives in 2010. During that election cycle, Harrell raised a total of $217,812.

2008

Harrell won re-election to the South Carolina House of Representatives in 2008. During that election cycle, Harrell raised a total of $361,053.

2006

Harrell won re-election to the South Carolina House of Representatives in 2006. During that election cycle, Harrell raised a total of $258,584.

2004

Harrell won re-election to the South Carolina House of Representatives in 2004. During that election cycle, Harrell raised a total of $153,846.

2002

Harrell won re-election to the South Carolina House of Representatives in 2002. During that election cycle, Harrell raised a total of $103,740.

2000

Harrell won re-election to the South Carolina House of Representatives in 2000. During that election cycle, Harrell raised a total of $178,255.

1998

Harrell won re-election to the South Carolina House of Representatives in 1998. During that election cycle, Harrell raised a total of $56,124.

1996

Harrell won re-election to the South Carolina House of Representatives in 1996. During that election cycle, Harrell raised a total of $35,528.

Endorsements

Presidential preference

2012

See also: Endorsements by state officials of presidential candidates in the 2012 election

Bobby Harrell Jr. endorsed Newt Gingrich in the 2012 presidential election. [12]

Scorecards

See also: State legislative scorecards and State legislative scorecards in South Carolina

Legislative scorecards are used to evaluate elected public officials based on voting record. Some scorecards are created by political advocacy groups with a focus on specific issues, while others are developed by newspapers and are broad in scope. Scorecards are meant to be used as a tool for voters to have a quick picture of whether their views align with a particular legislator's record.

Because scorecards can be specific to particular issues or general to a state’s legislative term, for example, each report should be considered on its own merits. Each entity that publishes these reports uses different methodologies and definitions for the terms used.

An overview for scorecards in all 50 states can be found on this page. To contribute to the list of South Carolina scorecards, email suggestions to scorecards@ballotpedia.org.

Please see our writing guidelines if you would like to add results from an individual scorecard to this legislator's profile.

2013-2014

The South Carolina State Legislature was in its 120th legislative session from January 8, 2013, to June 6, 2014. In 2014, a statewide session was held from June 17 to June 19 "for the consideration of certain specified matters."[13]

  • Legislators are scored on business issues, including: infrastructure funding, the Department of Employment and Workforce Integrity bill, expanding 4-year-old kindergarten and funding for the Manufacturing Skills Standard Council.
  • The scorecards are not comprehensive, but concentrate on issues related to jobs, spending, and freedom.
  • Legislators are scored on efforts to promote economic freedom, lower taxes, create an efficient and accountable state government, reduce spending, protect small businesses and reform the state's pension system.
  • Legislators are scored on environment and conservation of land efforts.

2011-2012

The South Carolina State Legislature was in its 119th legislative session from January 11, 2011, to June 7, 2012. On June 2, 2011, Governor Nikki Haley attempted to call the Legislature into an "emergency" special session to begin on June 7 to create the new South Carolina Department of Administration. A lawsuit was filed by Senate President Pro Tem Glenn McConnell, in which he contended that Haley's call for a special session was unconstitutional, and that it violated the state Constitution's requirement of separation of powers among the governor, legislature and courts.[14] On June 6, the South Carolina Supreme Court ruled 3-2 against Governor Haley, stating that her order violated the Legislature's ability to set its calendar and agenda.[15] The legislature met in a special redistricting session from June 14 - July 1.[16] The legislature re-convened July 26.[17]

  • Legislators are scored on medicaid flexibility, economic development, vetoes sustained, and record of votes.
  • Legislators are scored on limited government, the free market, and individual liberty and responsibility.
  • The RLC supports individual rights, limited government and free enterprise.
  • BIPEC uses roll call votes on business and industry issues to calculate a Vote Score for members of South Carolina's state legislature.
  • Legislators are scored on efforts to promote economic freedom, lower taxes, create an efficient and accountable state government, reduce spending, protect small businesses and reform the state's pension system.
  • Legislators are scored on their voting records on bills that directly impacted the business climate and competitiveness of the state.

The Palmetto Liberty PAC Scorecard

See also: The Palmetto Liberty Political Action Committee's Legislative Score Card

The Palmetto Liberty Political Action Committee, a conservative pro-limited government think tank in South Carolina, releases its Scorecard for South Carolina Representatives and Senators once a year. The Scorecard gives each a legislator a score based on how they voted in the two-year legislative term prior to the election on specific issues which the Palametto Liberty PAC thought were anti-limited government. "Most of the votes shown on the score card are votes that we lost. Now we can identify the Legislators that caused us to lose these votes. These Legislators are the ones who need to be replaced if we are to achieve the vision of having the most free state in the nation."[18]

2012

Bobby Harrell, Jr. received a score of 20% in the 2012 scorecard, ranking 57th out of all 124 South Carolina House of Representatives members.[19] His score was followed by representatives Jackie Hayes (20%), George Hearn (20%), and Bill Herbkersman (20%).[20]

Personal

Harrell and his wife, Cathy, have two children, Trey and Charlotte, and live in Charleston. He served as a Deacon at Westminster Presbyterian Church from 1991 to 1993, and he and his wife are members of the First Baptist Church of Charleston.[21][22]

Controversies

Ethics investigation

On September 10, 2014, First Circuit Solicitor David Pascoe announced the indictment of Harrell by a Richland County grand jury. Harrell was charged nine times: six counts of using campaign funds for personal use, two counts of misconduct in office and one count of false reporting candidate campaign disclosures. In response, Gov. Nikki Haley (R) called for Harrell to resign.[23] Harrell suspended himself from his post as Speaker of the House and from his office. This suspension was required by state law because he was indicted for a crime that carries more than a two-year sentence.[2] Harrell faces a maximum sentence of 18 years in prison and $40,000 in fines.[24]

Campaign funds

According to a 2012 investigation by The Post and Courier, Harrell reimbursed himself $326,000 from his campaign funds but failed to keep accurate accounting of where the funds went. This documentation is required by the state to show that reimbursements are made only for political expenses, rather than personal purposes. The most controversial expenditures were related to Harrell's personal plane, which he claimed he only uses for "official legislative trips and politically related travel." Over the past five years, he had reimbursed himself $231,561 for travel costs.[25]

In response to these revelations, South Carolina Common Cause, the South Carolina Democratic Party and the South Carolina Policy Council requested that Attorney General Alan Wilson formally investigate the matter. While many Republicans were silent on the issue or modestly supported Harrell, Rep. Ralph Norman (R) was more critical of the Speaker, saying "He's gonna have to go overboard now to explain why he hasn't provided this so far. This isn't something he can stonewall. There are enough people in the House that are gonna demand that he answer...You can't govern effectively if you're under this cloud of suspicion. How is he gonna make laws if he's not abiding by them?"[26]

On February 28, 2013, South Carolina's State Law Enforcement Division confirmed that it had opened an investigation of Harrell as result of the South Carolina Policy Council's complaint. South Carolina Law Enforcement Division’s (SLED) spokesman said they were "actively investigating" the case.[27] According to The Post and Courier, most legislators of both major parties did nothing to challenge the speaker over the allegations.[28]

On January 13, 2014, Alan Wilson, the Attorney General of South Carolina, announced that the investigation by the SLED on Speaker Harrell would be referred to the state grand jury. The attorneys for Harrell argued that Wilson was not impartial and should have been removed from the case. In a hearing on May 2, 2014, to determine if Wilson should be removed from the ethics case against Harrell, the judge did not make a decision and stated that he plans on taking his time.[29][30]

On May 12, 2014, Richland Circuit Court Judge L. Casey Manning ruled that the allegations against Harrell would first be heard by the House Ethics Committee and could not be pursued by the state grand jury. Manning's ruling came with the explanation that no evidence of criminal conduct had been displayed.[31]

Despite multiple requests, the Attorney General has failed to offer or present to the Court any evidence or allegations which are criminal in nature. Therefore, the Court is left only with allegations of ethics violations propounded by a citizen's letter.[32]

—Judge Casey Manning, [33]

On September 10, 2014, First Circuit Solicitor David Pascoe announced the indictment of Harrell by a Richland County grand jury. Harrell was charged nine times: six counts of using campaign funds for personal use, two counts of misconduct in office and one count of false reporting candidate campaign disclosures.[34] Harrell did not withdraw by an October 4 deadline that would have allowed Republicans to hold a special primary and delay the general election until December. With less than 30 days before the general election, Harrell is not expected to resign.[24]

Palmetto Leadership Council

In April, 2009, ‘’The Post and Courier’’ published allegations that the Palmetto Leadership Council was being used by Harrell to circumvent campaign finance laws that controlled the limits on campaign contributions. A government watchdog group, Common Cause South Carolina, also alleged that Harrell used the PAC money as a means of leverage within the Republican Party in South Carolina. John Crangle, executive director of the watchdog group told the ‘’The Post and Courier’’ “Harrell uses money like a saucer of milk to get [members of the Republican Party] to do what he wants. He creates a control relationship over the recipients.”[35].

According to an analysis by ‘’The Post and Courier’’, the PAC has funneled approximately a half-million dollars to Republican candidates and causes. One of the largest expenses by the Palmetto Leadership Council is the nearly $123,000 that has been paid to Geechie Communications between 2008 and 2010. Greechie is operated by a Republican South Carolina State Representative, Jim Merrill. $5,500 has also been paid for research expenses to a company registered to the home address of Kris Crawford, another member of the South Carolina House of Representatives. $27,000 was also paid to Richard Quinn & Associates, a consulting group that is run by State Rep. Rick Quinn. All three Republicans have also received campaign donations from the PAC, according to the newspaper’s analysis.[35]

The council is the only of its kind in the state, in that it is associated with a sitting member of the South Carolina legislature. Because PACs are unregulated, none of their activities are illegal. The Ethics Commission declined to investigate the allegations of wrongdoing, stating they had no jurisdiction over the activities of the PAC.[35]

After a new wave of allegations surfaced about the activities of the PAC in 2014, Harrell defended the work of the PAC, and denied any allegations that the funds were being used unethically.[36] The head of the PAC, India Null, has also denied that the Palmetto Leadership Council operated a separate fund that was control by Harrell. Ashley Landess, president of the South Carolina Policy Council, told reporters from ‘’The State’’ that she had spoken with local investigators about rumors that such a fund existed, and was controlled by Harrell.[37]

There was rumored to be a big operating account into which money was funneled that was not related to the PAC and not used in elections….The concern was that perhaps there was a great deal of big money coming from corporations ... and the nature of the expenses may have benefited the speaker.[32]

—Ashley Landess, president of the South Carolina Policy Council, [36]

In October 2014, sources told ‘’The Post and Courier’’ that the State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) was working with federal investigators to look into allegations that several members of the South Carolina House of Representatives. Among the allegations is that lawmakers misused the PAC money. Additional allegations include lawmakers directing money from the state budget to their own businesses, and selling their votes.[36]

Brother’s recusal

On October 8, 2014, ‘’The Post and Courier’’ reported that Harrell’s brother, Charleston attorney John Harrell, recused himself from a panel that picks the judges the South Carolina legislature consider for election. John Harrell and a second attorney, Don Sellers, were appointed to the 10-member Judicial Merit Selection Commission by Bobby Harrell, Jr. in 2007.[38]

The appointment of Harrell’s brother to the commission was considered unethical by the South Carolina Policy Council, who had previously stated that Harrell was wrong in appointing his brother in the first place.[39]

Charleston conference

In August 2012, The Post and Courier of Charleston revealed that in September 2011, a dozen legislators used $10,000 in taxpayer funds for a conference held at the Charleston Place Hotel. Harrell, the event's official host, defended the expenditures, saying "the overall impact for the Charleston economy and the image of our community to leaders around the country was huge." Harrell's personal tab for his stay at the hotel came in at $1,519.[40]

Legislative salary

According to an October 2010 report by The Nerve, Harrell recorded salary and expenses of $128,406 for the 2.5-year period from Jan. 1, 2008, through mid 2010, making him the second-highest compensated legislator in South Carolina during that period. South Carolina lawmakers have one of the lowest base salaries in the country at $10,400 annually. Only Texas and Mississippi have lower salaries. The difference between the base salary and what lawmakers actually are issued is made up with expenses, including subsistence payments and reimbursements for mileage and per-diem. According to "The Nerve", there is little transparency in the issuance of the expenses. For lawmakers in the House, the decision regarding whether such reimbursement is issued is left up to Harrell, and is not a line item the state budget.[41]

Vote swapping allegations

Law enforcement officials at the state and federal level are investigating whether South Carolina House of Representatives lawmakers engaged in illegal vote swapping in the state's South Carolina Supreme Court Chief Justice election that took place in February, 2014, which saw the re-election of Jean Toal.[42] State Rep. Tommy Stringer, (R - Greenville), told reporters that investigators from the State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) approached him recently with allegations that legislators agreed to swap votes in the Greenville Family Court race in response to votes for the chief justice race.[43] According to "The State" which broke the story, "[t]he probe centers on allegations that some legislators agreed to support Toal in the chief justice’s race in exchange for others agreeing to back Tarita Dunbar in a Greenville County Family Court race."[42]

According to "The State", multiple lawmakers have been approached by SLED and Federal Bureau of Investigation agents, including State Rep. Jenny Horne (R-Dorchester) who was a central player in Toal's bid for re-election in February, 2014. Harrell led Toal's bid, but as of October, there is no indication that Harrell has been approached by either state or federal investigators regarding the allegations of vote swapping.[42] Vote swapping is illegal under South Carolina law, and carries a punishment of 90 days in prison or a $1,000 fine.[44]

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References

  1. The Post and Courier, "House Speaker Bobby Harrell suspends himself from leadership post and office," September 11, 2014
  2. 2.0 2.1 bobbyharrell.com, "Bobby," accessed May 1, 2014
  3. SC Statehouse Blogs, "Hydrogen Press Release," June 19, 2009
  4. South Carolina Policy Council, "Hydrogen Shortfalls," accessed March 5, 2013
  5. South Carolina State Election Commission, "Election Results," accessed June 10, 2014
  6. South Carolina State Election Commission, "2014 Election Information," accessed March 31, 2014
  7. South Carolina State Election Commission, "2012 Candidates," accessed April 25, 2012
  8. AP.org, "South Carolina State Senate and State House Election Results," accessed November 7, 2012
  9. www.enr-scvotes.org, "2010 General Election Results," accessed May 1, 2014
  10. Follow the Money, "2008 Campaign donations in South Carolina," accessed May 1, 2014
  11. followthemoney.org, "Harrell Jr, Robert W," accessed July 11, 2013
  12. www.presidency.ucsb.edu, "Press Release - South Carolina State House Speaker Endorses Newt Gingrich," accessed May 1, 2014
  13. South Carolina State Legislature Online, "H*5282 Concurrent Resolution," accessed June 26, 2014
  14. The State, "Haley tells court she has right to call special session," 6 June 2011
  15. Wltx.com, "SC Supreme Court Rules Against Nikki Haley's Extra Session," June 6, 2011
  16. TheSunNews.com, "S.C. House to have special session in June," 6 May 2011
  17. The Island Packet, "S.C. Senate OKs new congressional districted anchored in Beaufort County," June 29, 2011
  18. The Palmetto Liberty Political Action Committee, "Voting Records," accessed April 11, 2014
  19. Palmetto Liberty Political Action Committee, "South Carolina Senate Score Card 2012," accessed April 11, 2014
  20. Palmetto Liberty Political Action Committee: South Carolina House Score Card 2012, "House Score 2012 ranked draft," accessed May 21, 2014
  21. bobbyharrell.com, "Campaign bio," accessed May 1, 2014
  22. Project Vote Smart, "Rep. Bobby Harrell," accessed May 1, 2014
  23. USA Today, "S.C. House speaker indicted on misconduct charges," September 10, 2014
  24. 24.0 24.1 The Post and Courier, "Harrell remains free on bond amid uncertainty over political future," September 29, 2014
  25. Postandcourier.com, "Harrell offers no details on self-reimbursement of $325,000 from campaign funds," accessed September 25, 2012
  26. Postandcourier.com, "Answers sought from House Speaker Bobby Harrell on reimbursements," accessed September 25, 2012
  27. Jeremy Turnage, WISTV, "Speaker of the House Bobby Harrell now under SLED investigation," February 28, 2013
  28. Stephen Largen, The Post and Courier, "Harrell investigation highlights complex Statehouse politics," March 3, 2013
  29. www.usatoday.com, "South Carolina Republicans battle over ethics case," accessed May 1, 2014
  30. www.wistv.com/, "Harrell hearing ends without judge's decision," accessed May 5, 2014
  31. The Post and Courier, "Judge Manning: S.C. House, not courts, should investigate Speaker Bobby Harrell," May 12, 2014
  32. 32.0 32.1 Note: This text is quoted verbatim from the original source. Any inconsistencies are attributed to the original source.
  33. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named postcourier
  34. USA Today, "S.C. House speaker indicted on misconduct charges," September 10, 2014
  35. 35.0 35.1 35.2 Renee Dudley, ‘’The Post and Courier’’, “Money ‘speaks’: S.C. House Speaker Bobby Harrell’s PAC doled out big money in campaign donations, contracts,” April 29, 2012
  36. 36.0 36.1 36.2 Jeremy Borden, ‘’The Post Courier’’, “State and federal investigation focuses on Political Action Committee money, state contracts,” October 8, 2014
  37. Andrew Shain, ‘’The State’’, EXCLUSIVE: Leader of suspended SC House speaker’s PAC denies misusing money,” October 9, 2014
  38. Associated Press, ‘’The Post Courier’’, “Brother of suspended House Speaker Bobby Harrell quits judicial screening panel,” October 8, 2014
  39. ‘’The State’’, “Harrell’s brother quits judicial screening panel,” October 8, 2014
  40. The Augusta Chronicle, "12 S.C. legislators stayed at Charleston Place during 5-day conference," accessed August 18, 2012
  41. thenerve.org, "Lawmakers Cost Taxpayers Millions, The Nerve," October 6, 2010
  42. 42.0 42.1 42.2 Jamie Self and Andrew Shain, The State, "EXCLUSIVE: Investigators looking into allegations of illegal State House vote swapping," accessed October 9, 2014
  43. Robert Kittle, WAGT 26, "South Carolina Statehouse investigation underway for possible illegal vote swapping," accessed October 9, 2014
  44. Eva Moore, Free Times, "Are Investigators Looking into Legislative Vote Swapping? - See more at: http://www.free-times.com/blogs/100614-are-investigators-looking-into-legislative-vote-swapping#sthash.iQiQnaDo.dpuf," accessed October 9, 2014
Political offices
Preceded by
-
South Carolina House of Representatives District 114
1992–present
Succeeded by
NA