John Knotts

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John Knotts
John knotts.jpg
South Carolina State Senate District 23
In office
Elections and appointments
Last election2012
First elected2002
Next generalNovember 6, 2012
Term limitsN/A
Prior offices
South Carolina State House of Representatives
Bachelor'sUniversity of South Carolina, 1982
Military service
Service/branchUnited States Navy
Years of service1964-1968
Date of birthDecember 12, 1944
Place of birthWest Columbia, SC
ProfessionCertified Firearms Instructor
Office website
The information about this individual is current as of when his or her last campaign ended. See anything that needs updating? Send a correction to our editors

John "Jake" Knotts Jr. (b. December 12, 1944) is a former Republican member of the South Carolina State Senate representing District 23 from 2002-2012.

Knotts served in the South Carolina State House from 1994 to 2002. He joined the South Carolina State Senate in 2002 and served there until his defeat in 2012.

Knotts worked as the Private Sector Director of Corporate Security for the Chambers Development Council Southern Region. He served in the United States Navy in Vietnam from 1964 to 1968. In 1989 he was a Firearms Instructor for SLED. He worked in Law Enforcement for the Columbia Police Department from 1968 to 1996. He has been a Certified Firearms Instructor since 1996.

Knotts attended the Palmer College Association of Criminal Justice in 1974. He then attended the Midlands Technical College Association of Corrections Administration in 1975. He attended FBI Academy in 1977. He went on to receive his B.A. from the University of South Carolina in 1982.

Committee assignments


In the 2011-2012 legislative session, Knotts served on the following committees:


In the 2009-2010 legislative session, Knotts served on the following committees:



See also: South Carolina State Senate elections, 2012

Knotts ran for election in the 2012 election for South Carolina State Senate District 23. Knotts ran unopposed in the June 12 Republican primary and was defeated by Katrina Shealy (R-Petition) in the general election, which took place on November 6, 2012.[1][2][3][4][5]

South Carolina State Senate, District 23, General Election, 2012
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Republican (Petition) Green check mark transparent.pngKatrina Shealy 51.1% 16,716
     Republican John Knotts Incumbent 43.7% 14,298
     Constitution David R. Whetsell 4.9% 1,596
     Other Write-Ins 0.4% 125
Total Votes 32,735


Knotts won re-election for District 23 of the South Carolina State Senate with 35,153 votes, ahead of write-ins (708).[6]

He raised $446,219 for his campaign.[7]

South Carolina State Senate, District 23
Candidates Votes
Green check mark transparent.png Jake Knotts (R) 35,153
Write-ins 708

Campaign donors


Knotts raised $446,219 in the 2008 election cycle.

His top contributors are listed below.[8]

Donor Amount
Jake Knotts $24,113
Senate Republican Caucus of South Carolina $10,000
South Carolina Healthcare Association $3,000
SCANA Corporation $2,500
Moore, Taylor & Thomas $2,500
Bluestein, Nichols, Thompson & Delgado $2,400
McWhirter, Bellinger & Associates $2,250


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."[9]


Jake Knotts received a score of 12% in the 2012 score card, ranking 24th out of all 46 South Carolina Senate members.[10] His score was followed by Senators J. Yancey McGill (12%), Luke A. Rankin (12%), and Glenn G. Reese (12%).[11]

Roll call voting

In South Carolina, only 25 percent of all bills were recorded during last year's session. A roll-call voting bill passed the House in the June 2010 session but that bill died in the Senate. Senator Glenn McConnell and Senator Knotts contested the bill in the Senate - preventing it from moving forward.[12]


"Raghead" comment

Knotts called Republican gubernatorial candidate Nikki Haley a “raghead” while apppearing on an Internet political talk show on June 3, 2010.[13] The term is a slur typically used against Arabs or other ethnic groups who wear turbans or headdresses. Haley, a state representative from Lexington, is the child of Indian immigrants who was raised a Sikh but converted to Christianity as an adult.

“We already got one raghead in the White House,” Knotts said. “We don’t need another in the Governor’s Mansion.”

Knotts told The Free Times that he believed Haley had been set up by a network of Sikhs and was programmed to run for governor of South Carolina by outside influences in foreign countries.[14] He claimed she is hiding her religion and he wanted the voters to know about it.[15]

Sanford disappearance

Knotts also raised some eyebrows with comments made when Gov. Mark Sanford disappeared for several days in June 2009, on what was later revealed to be a rendezvous with a woman in South America. Knotts, a longtime Sanford foe, questioned who was leading the state should a disaster occur: "Who is at the helm? The way Iran is acting up, and what about weather catastrophes? Hopefully no decision has to be made."[16]

A few days later, Knotts called for a "full-blown" investigation into Sanford's actions.[17]

Legislative salary

In October 2010, The Nerve reported that although Knotts lives in West Columbia, less than 10 miles from the State House in downtown Columbia, he received subsistence payments of nearly $26,500 for the 2.5-year period between January 2008 and July 2010.[18] The money is supposed to reimburse lawmakers for hotel stays and meals while on legislative business, whether the General Assembly is in or out of session. Knotts' total for the 30-month period - $26,462, to be precise - was the highest among Midlands senators and the sixth-highest among the 55 current or former senators who served during the two-and-a-half-year timeframe, according to The Nerve’s analysis.[19]


In mid-June 2010, the Lexington County Republican Party voted overwhelmingly 25-7 to censure him for his comments regarding Haley and demanded his resignation.

In response, Knotts said he "could care less" and would not resign. In a separate interview, he said the censure was "all politics," and warned that libertarians had "infiltrated" the party. He said he had not called Haley to personally apologize and that the "press has given Nikki Haley a free ride." When a reporter asked where the press had failed to hold her accountable, Knotts said, "have you ever asked her if she believes in Jesus Christ as her lord and savior and that he died on the cross for her sins? Have you ever asked her that?"[20]


Knotts and his wife Betty Lee have two children.

External links

Suggest a link


  1. South Carolina State Election Commission, “2012 General Election – Official Results,” November 19, 2012
  2., "South Carolina State Senate and State House Election Results" accessed November 7, 2012
  3. SC Votes, "Primary Results" June 12, 2012
  4. South Carolina State Election Commission, Official Primary Results
  5. South Carolina State Election Commission, "2012 Candidates," accessed April 26, 2012
  6. South Carolina official election results for 2008
  7. Follow the Money's report on Knotts's 2008 campaign contributions
  8. Campaign contributors to John Knotts
  9. The Palmetto Liberty Political Action Committee, "Voting Records," accessed April 11, 2014
  10. Palmetto Liberty Political Action Committee, "South Carolina Senate Score Card 2012," accessed May 15, 2014
  11. Palmetto Liberty Political Action Committee: South Carolina Senate Score Card 2012, 2012
  12. Roll-call voting bill fizzles in Senate, The Nerve
  13. Knotts slur stirs the Haley storm, The State, June 3, 2010
  14. This Just In, The Free Times, June 4, 2010
  15. This Just In, The Free Times, June 4, 2010
  16. AWOL Governor Mark Sanford has entire state in a tizzy, New York Daily News, June 23, 2009 (dead link)
  17. Jake Knotts, South Carolina Republican, calls for 'full-blown' investigation of Sanford, The Huffington Post, June 26, 2010
  18. Midlands Lawmakers Feasting on Subsistence, The Nerve, Oct. 7, 2010
  19. Midlands Lawmakers Feasting on Subsistence, The Nerve, Oct. 7, 2010
  20. Jake Knotts keeps on digging, Dispatches From the Culture Wars, June 15, 2010
Political offices
Preceded by
Addison G. "Joe" Wilson
South Carolina State Senate - District 23
Succeeded by
Katrina Shealy (R)