'Brief lapse in judgment’: Georgetown Co. elections board chairman resigns amid political sign stealing investigation
GEORGETOWN COUNTY, S.C. (WMBF) – The chairman of the Georgetown County Board of Voter Registration and Elections resigned Wednesday night after being accused of damaging political signs.
The South Carolina State Law Enforcement Division confirmed it is investigating allegations that Dean L. Smith and his wife took and vandalized political signs.
An incident report from the Georgetown County Sheriff’s Office states a member of the Georgetown County Republican Party and a member of the Seventh Congressional District spoke to a resident of Safe Harbor Drive in Pawleys Island about getting some Trump/Pence signs to put in his yard.
The resident said he’d put the signs in his yard but they kept disappearing, so he went back to the party officials to get more, the report states.
According to authorities, the resident put a deer camera in his yard and got photos of a person taking a sign and damaging another one by writing the word “Dump” over the Trump name.
The party members told authorities they received the photos via text message and put them on social media to identify the people photographed. They received five phone calls from people who identified both the person who took and damaged the signs, as well as the person who drove her, according to the incident report.
“The complainants stated the person driving the vehicle” is married to the person who allegedly took and damaged the signs, the incident report stated.
Authorities identified the driver as Smith. The other person is identified as Rita Smith.
Jason Lesley, the spokesperson for the Georgetown County Sheriff’s Office, said the case has been turned over to SLED and the agency will determine if the two will face charges in the case. He added that SLED was called to investigate the allegations, as they came so close to the Nov. 3 general election.
During the board of elections meeting Wednesday night in Georgetown, Smith read a statement, announcing his resignation.
Smith sent WMBF News that statement, which read:
“I regret that a brief lapse in judgement (sic) on my part might become a distraction to the conduct of this very important election. Therefore, I hereby resign from this Board effective immediately. It has been an honor and a privilege to work with all of you. I am very proud of the 15 years I have been involved in Georgetown County elections and am sorry that it has to end like this.”
According to online information, Smith’s term is set to expire on Dec. 1, 2020.
Georgetown County spokesperson Jackie Broach explained that the board is not appointed or overseen by the county, but by the legislative delegation, which consists of state Sens. Sabb and Goldfinch and Reps. Anderson and Hewitt.
Check back with WMBF News for more on this developing story.
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