Originally created 07/11/00

Commissioners return to council



AIKEN - Two election commissioners were reappointed Monday by Aiken City Council, after resigning earlier this year over an ambiguous state law.

H.A. "Mac" McClearen and Richard Johnson both accepted the posts they gave up in February. The third commissioner to quit over the controversy, Keith Wood, has not responded yet, City Manager Roger LeDuc said.

Mr. McClearen and Mr. Johnson said they changed their minds after the Legislature revised the law concerning municipal election commissioners. They previously could not participate in any political campaigns, from city council to the president of the United States, except to vote.

All three commissioners resigned because they were involved in various ways in other county, state and federal elections.

Because of what happened to the commission, the law was changed, Mr. LeDuc said. The new language states that commissioners cannot participate in an election they have jurisdiction over - any municipal election.

The law was re-examined after Scott Singer, who was defeated for the House District 81 seat by Republican Rep. Robert S. "Skipper" Perry, prompted the council to investigate the legality of Mr. McClearen's role in Mr. Perry's campaign.

The council admitted that Mr. McClearen should not have managed Mr. Perry's campaign, but decided he would not be reprimanded because the law was ambiguous.

Mr. Perry said wording explaining that an election commissioner - who did not have jurisdiction - could get involved in the election was supposed to be added to the bill last year but was left off for some reason.

Reach Katie Throne at (803) 279-6895.