It's (almost) enough to make you feel sorry for South Carolina Democrats.
First, the "party establishment" candidate for U.S. Senate was defeated by an unknown who spent no money on his primary bid, and never bothered to campaign. Yet, he received 59% of the vote.
Then it was revealed that the presumptive Democratic nominee, one Alvin Greene, was kicked out of the Army last year. Making matters worse, Mr. Greene is also facing felony charges for displaying obscene materials to a University of South Carolina coed.
At that point, the chairwoman of the state Democratic Party, Carol Fowler, asked Greene to drop out of the race. Mr. Greene, who is unemployed, promptly declined and granted a series of interviews with the national media, proving that he isn't the sharpest tool in the shed.
By then, Mrs. Fowler and her associates were apoplectic. Finding someone to run against popular GOP incumbent Jim DeMint was hard enough; now, the Democrats were saddled with the worst possible candidate--someone who may soon add a felony conviction to his already shady resume.
Still, some Democrats in the Palmetto State held out hopes that Greene's legal difficulties might disqualify him and get the preferred candidate (retired Judge Vic Rawl) on the November ballot.
Well, so much for that idea. Election officials tell the Gannett News Service that Greene could still represent South Carolina in the Senate, even if he's convicted on that felony charge:
The U.S. Constitution's only requirements to seek federal office are age, residency and citizenship, Julia Queen, a spokeswoman for the Federal Elections Commission, said Tuesday.
But under South Carolina law, a felon can't vote — at least not until they've served their sentence and any probationary period and paid any restitution required, said South Carolina Election Commission spokesman Chris Whitmire.
Tuesday, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, a non-profit group, asked South Carolina Attorney General Henry McMaster — who lost a bid in the GOP gubernatorial race last week — to investigate how Greene came up with the $10,440 filing fee required to put his name on the ballot and whether Greene "accepted an inducement" to run.
Greene, an unemployed veteran, has repeatedly said he used money saved from his service in the Army, although he was granted a free attorney in his criminal case as an indigent.
"The people of South Carolina have a right to fair, transparent and fraud-free elections," said Melanie Sloan, the group's executive director.
Meanwhile, other Democrats are alleging "irregularities" with voting machines that were used in the election. So far, there's no evidence to support that charge, but it does fit the party template that's used almost every time there's a close election.
So, it looks like the South Carolina Democratic Party is stuck with Alvin Greene (and vice versa). And, revelations about the nominee are still surfacing. Gawker had an e-mail exchange with a soldier who served with Greene in Korea, one of his last duty assignments during a 13-year military career that included stints in the Army and the Air Force. Mr. Greene's former colleague requested anonymity because he's still serving on active duty. He confirmed what many of us previously suspected: Green wasn't much of a soldier.
Q: Could you tell me a bit about your time working with Greene?
A: During the first couple of weeks of working with him, myself and most everyone else noticed that he wasn't all there mentally. Whenever he was given a simple task such as filling a temporary hand receipt it would never get done, mainly because he didn't know how to fill one out. And this is the most fundamental part of the job.
He also didn't show much interest in being a soldier. For instance, he was asked to do maintenance on the M249. This system is a little more complex than the regular service rifle. When it came to Greene's turn he was able to take the weapon apart but didn't know where to start when it came to put it back together. He showed no interest in learning and would mumble under his breath about not wanting to do it. So after a couple of months of trying and not getting anywhere, people just made sure he was where he was supposed to be and in the correct uniform. He would just basically come to work and stare at the wall till it was time for lunch and then do the same till it was time to go home for the day. The platoon sergeant tried to get him to go see a doctor for help but he would never seek help.
Q: There's been a lot of speculation about where he got the $10,400 filing fee necessary to run for Senate. He says he saved up from the Army. Do you think that's possible?
A: I think that was very possible. Greene didn't do anything during his personal time, and ate at the post dining facility religiously. The first time I saw his room all he had was a radio and a couple sets of clothes, which is not unusual for someone that just moved to a new post. But after 5 months all he had was just a radio and a couple sets of clothes still. Considering his lifestyle and coming back from Korea I believe he could have saved over $10,400, and spent it on putting himself on the ballot.
Greene has been very vague as to why he left the army. He says it was an honorable but "involuntary" discharge. Do you know the circumstances behind his discharge?
I really can't say what the circumstances were under which he was discharged, but I think it might have been failure to adapt. [Greene was transferred to a different brigade before being discharged last year.]
The soldier also reported that Greene was only an E-3 (Private First Class) after his stint in Korea. He had apparently been demoted during that tour, in conjunction with disciplinary action reportedly taken against Greene. As you might imagine, the candidate isn't talking about his failed military career. "Things weren't working out" is the only comment Greene has offered (so far).
According to the soldier, Greene was simply lazy and working the system to get by. He told Gawker that he's seen individuals with serious conditions (bi-polar, alcoholism) that put forth more effort. Amazingly, Greene is a college graduate who earned a bachelor's degree from the University of South Carolina. Somehow, we don't think Mr. Greene will wind up on the cover of USC's alumni magazine.
Meanwhile, we can expect more revelations about Greene and his past. Somewhere along the way, he also served as an Air Force intelligence specialist, a job that requires a high ASVAB score and completion of a long technical training course. How does someone who can't fill out a supply receipt make it through the USAF's intel program? Beyond that, did he actually serve a tour as an intelligence specialist, and perform adequately on the job?
That question becomes relevant when you consider his subsequent enlistment in the U.S. Army. Despite recruiting problems in the not-too-distant past, it's hard to believe the Army would take a former "blue suiter" who didn't have a satisfactory record in the USAF. Either Greene was a better airman than he was a soldier (very unlikely), or someone in the Air Force let him slide by. We're guessing that someone at Randolph (home of the service's personnel center) and Goodfellow AFB (the intel training center) are now reviewing their files, preparing for inevitable questions about Alvin Greene.
It's a long time between now and the general election in November. We're guessing that South Carolina Democrats will be very tired of Mr. Greene (and his checkered past), long before voters go to the polls.