South Carolina’s incumbent attorney general Alan Wilson is hoping to become the first Republican to win a third term as the state’s top prosecutor. But first he will have to fend off a challenge from Charleston Law School law professor Constance Anastopoulo.
Wilson has held the office since 2011 but faces his most difficult reelection this year. Over the past eight years, he garnered bipartisan support for efforts to tighten the state’s domestic violence and human trafficking laws. However, he frustrated Democrats with constant lawsuits against President Obama’s administration and even alienated some Republicans over his handling of a Statehouse corruption probe.
“South Carolina has come a long way, but we have a long way to go on domestic violence, human trafficking and internet safety,” Wilson told South Carolina Radio Network in an interview last week.
Anastopoulo has targeted Wilson over his longtime connections with a Republican political consultant Richard Quinn who was at the center of a corruption probe the past three years. The lead prosecutor assigned by Wilson, First Circuit Solicitor David Pascoe, ultimately accused Wilson of undermining him and protecting Quinn. Wilson denies the accusations and said Pascoe used the investigation to score political points against him. Wilson was not accused of wrongdoing in the probe, although the grand jury involved questioned his judgment for continuing to use Quinn.
“The reason I got in this race was because, as an ethics professor, I just could not sit on the sidelines any longer and watch what was going on with the culture of corruption in Columbia,” she told South Carolina Radio Network.
Republicans, for their part, have criticized Anastopoulo’s legal experience, saying she has represented clients but never prosecuted a case. The law professor said Wilson rarely prosecutes, either.
“He is not a prosecutor, trial lawyer or a litigator,” she said. “He has staff to do that… I’ve probably won more cases than he’s actually tried.”
Anastopoulos also criticized Wilson over the ongoing legal case against power utility SCANA in the aftermath of an ill-fated nuclear project. Democrats have hit Wilson for not suing against the Base Load Review Act — which allowed utilities to charge customers for a nuclear project that would never be finished. But he insists there was little he could do until the project’s failure gave his office the legal avenue it needed.
“You can’t react to something that you’re unaware of,” he said. “It’s like getting mad at cops for not stopping a crime before it happens or getting mad at a judge for not ruling on something before it’s brought before them.”