Clearly, South Carolina Democrats nominated a weak candidate to oppose Sen. Jim DeMint this fall. But Jim Clyburn (D-SC), the third-ranking House Democrat, isn’t taking the Democratic voters’ decision lying down. He wants a criminal investigation of the race.
Clyburn wants the US Attorney to investigate whether someone paid the filing fee for Alvin Greene, who won the Democratic nomination for US Senate. (I suppose a criminal investigation of the voters was out of the question.) Clyburn says that would be illegal under state law, if Greene’s candidacy is intended to hurt another candidate. As far as I can tell, Clyburn did not explain what role the US Attorney has in enforcing state election law.
The real purpose of such an investigation should be clear. The purpose here is to create a chilling effect, to deter people not favored by the Democratic machine from running in Democratic primaries. If you run, and you happen to win, you face a criminal investigation. Best to stay out.
POSTSCRIPT: Incidentally, I’m pretty sure this situation is not the one envisioned by the South Carolina law. If I understand it correctly, the scenario the law is trying to prevent is where candidate A pays the filing fee for candidate B, so B can draw support from candidate C, thereby allowing A to beat C. Since Greene won, this clearly isn’t a situation where he was in the race to help someone else win. (Moreover, I have to add that that sort of political gamesmanship should be legal anyway. It’s called democracy. Deal with it.)
UPDATE: PPP, a left-leaning but respectable polling agency, dismisses GOP chicanery in Greene’s victory. PPP attributes the outcome to random chance. We’ll see if that makes a difference to Clyburn. I doubt it will. (Via the Corner.)
UPDATE (7/10): An investigation found that Greene really did have the money to pay the filing fee. That’s right, South Carolina actually did conduct an investigation. Wow.