FITS Exclusive: Staton Backers Urging Public Schools to Break Ethics Law
Supporters of Democrat-in-hiding Bob Staton (left) are contacting public school officials and urging them to post campaign literature in our children's schools, according to documents obtained by FITS.
On April 28, 2006, James E. Jackson, Jr. of the Orangeburg-based law firm Yarborough, Hutto & Jackson wrote the following letter to Laurine Hilliard, Principal of the Star Center for Learning in Cope, S.C.:
"Enclosed please find five copies of an invitation to a reception that I am hosting for Bob Staton, who is a Republican Candidate for South Carolina Superintendent of Education. I would appreciate your posting these invitations at your school (emphasis added). We wish to invite you and all of your teachers as well as other educators to this reception. I hope that you will take this opportunity to meet Bob Staton and will encourage others at your school to do the same (emphasis added)."
Attached to the letter is an official campaign invitation bearing the "Staton: Republican for Education" campaign logo.
State ethics law strictly prohibits public officials from using taxpayer time, equipment or other resources for campaign-related purposes.
The Star Center for Learning is a public school in Orangeburg District 4 that focuses on children with learning disabilities.
FITS spoke with Principal Hilliard this afternoon, who says she made the decision immediately not to post the Staton campaign literature in her school.
"There was no legal counsel involved," Principal Hilliard told FITS. "I knew it was against the law and I knew that we could be fined if we posted it."
Similar letters may have been sent to other public school officials in the area.
Staton, who complained recently to Dan Hoover of the Greenville News about the growing skepticism surrounding his Republican credentials, publicly admitted at a First Tuesday Republican luncheon in Columbia this week that he had voted for Inez Tenenbaum.
According to voting records uncovered by FITS, Staton registered for the 1994 Democratic Primary when Tenenbaum was running for Lieutenant Governor. Tenenbaum, who captured the Superintendent's seat four years later, finished third in the Democratic Primary that year behind Theo Mitchell and eventual nominee Liz Patterson.