Candidate crisis bill dead, Congressman's wife goes after senator

Roxanne Wilson confronts State Sen. Jake Knotts outside his office Tuesday afternoon.
Roxanne Wilson confronts State Sen. Jake Knotts outside his office Tuesday afternoon.

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) – A last-second move by Lexington County Senator Jake Knotts Tuesday killed a bill that would reopen candidate filings for most of the 183 candidates removed from the ballots. The Senate Judiciary Committee met to debate the bill, but Knotts objected to the move and a well-known Congressman's wife let him hear about it.

"How can you come up here and act like you're acting in public?" Knotts asked Congressman Joe Wilson's wife, Roxanne, who was visibly angry and shouting at Knotts over his decision to kill the bill. "I am a public," Wilson said. "You are a Congressman's wife," Knotts said to Wilson before walking off to his office. "I don't care," Wilson replied. "You know it's wrong, you are self serving,"

A State House security officer said, "Ma'am, please calm down," when Wilson knocked the officer's arm away and said to the officer, "Get your hand off me…I don't know who you are, but go away."

Wilson set off after Knotts' office when she was stopped by a second security officer outside the senator's office. "He's a dear friend," Wilson told the officer, who had repeatedly asked Mrs. Wilson to calm down. "If you go in there and you disrupt things, you are going to leave," the unidentified officer told Wilson, who pushed by the officer and walked into Knotts' office.

Mrs. Wilson's sister, Suzanne Moore, was one of the candidates, knocked off the ballot after the SC Supreme Court determined 183 candidates across the state were illegally certified as candidates for the 2012 election cycle. Moore was a Republican candidate for the county's clerk's office before being removed from the ballot.

Mrs. Wilson is also SC Attorney General Alan Wilson's mother.

Knotts and Wilson spent several minutes behind closed doors. The pair walked out of the office, and Knotts kissed Wilson on the cheek as both smiled at reporters and parted ways.

The judiciary committee passed Knotts' bill out to the floor. The Knotts bill would take away candidate certifications from the Republican and Democrat Parties and give that solely to the South Carolina Elections Commission. Knotts said it was important to correct the problems with the current set of laws instead of awarding candidates he said didn't follow the rules.

The original bill would have allowed the candidates who filed a Statement of Economic Interest by April 20, to appear on the ballot. That might not have required a "pre-clearance" from the Department of Justice and would have allowed most of the 183 candidates back on the 2012 ballots.

The Senate was expected to debate and possibly vote on Knotts' bill later Tuesday.

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