South Carolina elections chair resigns after he’s caught removing, defacing Trump signs

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A South Carolina elections chairman has surrendered his post after he and his wife were accused of removing and defacing several Trump-Pence 2020 campaign signs.

On Tuesday, a Pawleys Island resident contacted local Republican Party officials, who subsequently alerted the Georgetown County Sheriff’s Department, that his Trump campaign signs were being taken from his yard.

The caller said that a trail cam he had set up in his yard captured someone removing the signs on Oct. 4 while defacing another sign by writing “Dump” over President Donald Trump’s last name on the sign, according to the Coastal Observer.

After Republican Party officials filed a complaint with the sheriff’s office as well, Dean Smith, who had been a member of the board for 15 years, turned in his resignation. Also, Rita Smith, his wife, resigned as poll manager and training coordinator for the elections commission.

“We regret this lapse of judgment on our part. I do not want to be a distraction to the conduct of this very important election,” said Dean Smith.

Rita Smith is also president of the Pawleys Landing homeowners association, the local outlet reported.

Georgetown County Republican Party chair Karol Anderson and 7th District GOP committee chair Jerry Rovner told an investigator with the sheriff’s office that a resident complained about disappearing Trump/Pence signs he had placed in his yard. He also advised he had set up the trail cam.

Anderson and Rovner said they didn’t recognize a person in the video, so they posted three videos to social media. The person who filed the complaint with the local Republican Party leaders did recognize the offenders as the Smiths.

Over the next few days, the two GOP officials said they received a number of calls identifying Rita Smith as the person in the photo. Only one of the callers wanted to be identified, however.

Sheriff’s office investigators have asked the State Law Enforcement Division to look into the incident, the Coastal Observer reported. The Smiths told the outlet they have not yet been contacted by either the sheriff’s department or the state agency.

“People with a lot of responsibility should have a lot of accountability,” Anderson said told the paper.

Rita Smith has admitted to defacing a sign, but told the local news outlet that the circumstances surrounding the act did not align with those the sheriff’s department described.

She says she got a complaint from a property owner last month about another resident flying a Trump flag on his garage. According to the home association’s rules, residents are not allowed to place yard signs with the exception of temporary real estate signs.

As such, Rita Smith and another member of the board asked the owner to remove the flag but he refused to do so. She said he then began yelling at them “in a political tirade.”

She then said a Trump sign appeared on a common property at an entrance to the Rosecrest neighborhood, and after she removed it, another one was put up.

“Our emotions got the better of us,” Rita Smith said.

“It was because we were angry with the other resident,” Dean Smith added. “This really is a neighborhood issue, but I have to be squeaky clean.”


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