Last week, I watched with great amusement at the old-school political shenanigans taking place in Beaufort.
It all started a few weeks ago when Beaufort boy Tom Davis announced his intention to resign from his position as Gov. Mark Sanford's chief of staff and enter the Republican primary race for Senate District 46.
Davis had rented out his home in Beaufort during his service in Columbia and hired Burton, S.C.-based Partners Painting Co. to prepare his house for his return.
This is where the fun starts.
A painting contractor neighbor named Bill Somers noticed some Hispanic-looking workers on the job site and assumed they were illegal aliens because they were working on a weekend. At least that's the story he told the Associated Press.
And how did the AP find out about this? Well, because Rod Shealy told 'em!
Somers says he told Randy Bates about the painters and that Bates and a translator entered Davis' property and were invited into the dwelling by Josias Misale Ayala, who smiled for a picture and admitted freely that he was in the U.S. illegally from Honduras. Bates works for Catherine Ceips, the current District 46 senator.
Bates then forwarded the photograph and the information to Shealy, who then contacted the AP.
Okay, there's a lot here, so pay attention.
As an associate of Sanford, Davis is the latest comer in the long line of politicians who believe less-government-is-awesome-especially-when-it-keeps-those-awful-minorities-away-from-our-kids-who-need-vouchers-to-attend-private-schools.
Ceips narrowly won a bitter special election for her seat in June 2007. More importantly, as City Paper readers know, she is the alleged girlfriend of the gun-toting Rep. Wallace Scarborough. The relationship was detailed in Scarborough's divorce papers. However, his former spouse later agreed to "irreconcilables" in the interest of the couple's two sons, and those records are now sealed. That said, rumors are flying that a lawsuit to open them up will be filed soon.
Anyhoo, Shealy behaves in much the same way as a pre-redemption Lee Atwater. He was convicted in 1992 for not reporting a $5,000 campaign contribution which had been used to hire an African-American fisherman to run in a primary race against a legitimate black candidate. He also ran Ceips' Senate race and is consulting on her current campaign.
When asked for comment last Tuesday, Ceips told The Beaufort Gazette she had little to say because it's "an ongoing investigation." She added, "I see this as any time I hear about illegals and any time I hear about possible human trafficking things, what I do is what the Department of Justice told me to do and that's call Immigration and Customs Enforcement. What I've done is I've turned this case over to the proper authorities."
Her concern for the plight of the victims of human trafficking moves me to tears.
Shealy told the AP, "Every indication is that there was in fact an illegal immigrant subcontractor doing work."
Perhaps someone should define "fact" for ole Hot Rod.
Davis responded to Shealy's allegations on Tuesday, providing documentation to the Gazette that all the painters were legal aliens. Neither Davis nor the contractor recognized the man in the photograph.
Davis said he is considering prosecuting Bates and company for trespassing. However, Bates says, "Nobody broke in. There was no yelling and screaming at anybody."
What that has to do with granting permission is lost on me.
In a statement Davis said, "These kinds of attacks are what is wrong with politics ... What Ms. Ceips and her campaign operatives are doing is reprehensible. Today, I call on Ms. Ceips to fire Rod Shealy and Randy Bates, the two operatives who carried out this dirty trick at her direction."
As for Ayala, has anyone seen him since last weekend?