For a moment there, I thought we'd make it through this election session without a bit of old-school, South Carolina dirty politics. I was apparently wrong.
The Ginny Deerin camp is now reporting that they received a mailer
from a group calling itself the Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Association urging Charlestonians to vote for Ms. Deerin. While the mailer speaks positively of Deerin, there is little doubt that the mailer in question is meant to actually dissuade voters from a ballot for Ginny, who, in case you didn't know, is a member of the LGBT community.
For starters, there doesn't appear to be a group in South Carolina, or elsewhere for that matter, called the Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Association. Also, the mailer includes the logos for the Gay-Straight Alliance and the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Resource Center at Northern Illinois University, neither of which would likely endorse such a mailer (Molly Holmes of the NIU's Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Resource Center says that her organization did not authorize the use of their logo and has nothing to do with the mailer.)
And then there's the fact that the mailer itself misspells Ginny Deerin's last name — a nice touch for a smear since any professionally authorized job wouldn't have included such a egregious error ... or least that's how the thinking would go.
I reached out to both Leon Stavrinakis' and John Tecklenburg's campaigns to see if they were behind the mailers. The Stavrinakis campaign has stated that they, of course, aren't. More importantly, they became aware of the mailer shortly before I reached out to them. According to Tyler Jones communications director for Stavrinakis:
"Leon is appalled by this trash. This flyer is clearly fraudulent and breaks state ethics laws. What the sender fails to realize is that modern technology can often trace where things like this comes from. The Stavrinakis campaign calls for an immediate investigation by the proper law enforcement agencies. We look forward to identifying the source."
Tecklenburg's crew has also said quite emphatically that they are not behind the smear.
As for the other candidates in the race, I'm sure they'd give the same answer. (For the record, I asked the Deerin campaign if they were behind the mailer as part of some reverse-Jedi mind trick, and they also said no.)
As for Ginny, this is what she has to say about the matter:
"This is the kind of divisive, offensive behavior that has no place in this election. When I pointed out my policy disagreement with my opponent’s vote against funding transportation infrastructure for our community, he called it a personal attack. I wonder what he calls this kind of bigotry-based postcard sent by an anonymous group.”
Deerin's campaign manager, Jimmy Bailey didn't mince words either, noting the Stavrinakis campaign's previous action. (Psst, they equated a Deerin ad criticizing Leon with besmirching
the legacy of the Emanuel 9.):
“This is a nonexistent organization attacking Ginny Deerin. It is a vile last-minute personal attack from an anonymous group. Only one campaign has engaged in personal attacks against Ginny and I certainly hope they’re not behind this one. It’s not the Charleston way. Voters should reject this and future attempts to divide our community and personally take down the best candidate for mayor.”
Previously, Stavrinakis noted that he did not approve
of the LGBT graphic memoir, Fun Home
, but unlike many of his homophobic Republican colleagues at the Statehouse, he didn't think the state should have cut funding to CofC because of the book. In a Twitter exchange with me, he further elaborated on his stance:
In another exchange, Stavrinakis added:
The Fun Home reading assignment was not mandatory, as Stavrinakis had been told.