Court 'Declines to Disenfranchise' Voters, Keeps Bennett on Ballot
Judge orders that S.C. Senate District 38 GOP nominee Sean Bennett will remain on November ballot.
Judge Howard King ruled Thursday that S.C. Senate District 38 GOP nominee Sean Bennett is the voters' choice and rightful nominee heading into an uncontested November election.
The order is attached to the right of this story.
Bennett's campaign was questioned in a Dorchester County Democratic Party lawsuit, which questioned all county GOP non-incumbent candidates on proper filing proceedure. Bennett won with more than 60 percent of the vote against incumbent Sen. Mike Rose on June 12.
"The Court declines to disenfranchise the voters of Dorchester County," the order that reinstates Bennett reads. The order says there was no convincing testimony or evidence that Bennett violated with S.C. election law.
No sanctions were imposed on any party in the decision, though the court said it "disapproves" of the handling of election filing documents by GOP election filing officer Tony Piscatella.
Piscatella's attorney and S.C. House Rep. Chris Murphy released this statement to constituents via email:
Despite the best efforts of our former Senator and the Chairwoman of DCRP, the will of the people has been upheld and the election results stand! Huge thank you to Tony Piscatella for having the courage and integrity to do the right thing. I look forward to working with Senator Bennett in January.
Dorchester County Democratic Chair Richard Hayes said there were no plans to appeal.
"We won — our lawsuit was to see it was done correctly," Hayes said. "We weren't for Rose or for Bennett ... We think it's great that the voters weren't disenfranchised. (The Republicans) could have done that on June 13 if they released the records that we asked for."
During Monday's hearing, the attorney for Rose made promises of an appeal if Bennett remained on the ballot. However, Rose was not available for comment.