Aiken County legislators are calling on their suspended colleague to resign as he faces domestic violence charges. But other lawmakers are reluctant to go that far, saying the legal situation should play out first.
During a legislative workshop with reporters on Thursday, state Senate Majority Leader Shane Massey said State Rep. Chris Corley, R-Graniteville does a disservice to his constituents by remaining in office. Corley was suspended from office Wednesday after his formal indictment for high-and-aggravated domestic violence and a weapons charge.
“(His constituents) need representation in the House. And they shouldn’t be embarrassed by the people who are there,” Massey said. “That’s obviously not my call… but I’ll be surprised if he does not resign by next week. I’ll be surprised if there are not expulsion efforts in the House.”
Massey’s comments came a day after another Aiken County Republican, State Rep. Bill Taylor, posted on Twitter that Corley should resign. Taylor echoed those remarks on Thursday, warning other lawmakers could try to get him expelled from the House otherwise.
“The burden is truly on him to make that decision (to resign),” Taylor said. “If he refuses, given the nature of the events we’re looking at, maybe there would be that next step. But I would only hope that Rep. Corley do the right thing, be honorable about this, and understand that his people need representation and he needs to focus on the criminal issues that he faces. And his family.”
But Speaker Pro Tempore Tommy Pope, R-York, said Corley has the right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty. Pope added he did agree with House Speaker Jay Lucas’s decision to suspend Corley until his legal issues are settled.
“It’s not our place to call for him to resign,” Pope told reporters. “That’s a difficult situation for his family (and) for that community. I think that we have to let the criminal justice system take its course.”
Corley is charged with domestic violence of a high and aggravated nature as well as pointing a weapon at his wife. The Republican legislator was arrested by Aiken County deputies last week after they accused him of repeatedly punching his wife in the face and threatening her with his gun in the presence of their children.
Massey — whose Senate district overlaps with much of Corley’s House constituency — agreed Corley has the right to be presumed innocent. But he said the lawmaker’s suspension means he cannot properly serve his constituents until the issue is settled. “There’s a very big difference in my mind between the criminal side and the political side,” he said. “And I think we all have an obligation to say, ‘This is not okay. It is not okay to beat up your wife.’ And I want to be absolutely clear about that.”