South Carolina Democrats called on Alvin Greene to end his bid for U.S. Senate after his legal troubles got more serious Friday, but there is not much hope among party leaders that Greene will abandon his long-shot campaign.
A Richland County grand jury indicted Greene on two charges of showing obscene images to a female University of South Carolina student at a campus computer lab.
Greene faces a maximum sentence of five years and a $10,000 fine for disseminating, procuring or promoting obscenity, a felony, and a maximum three-year sentence and $10,000 fine for communicating an obscene message to another person without consent, a misdemeanor.
Greene, 32, has become a national political celebrity after he upset a former state lawmaker and judge to win the Democratic primary despite an apparently light campaign schedule. Greene will remain on the November ballot unless he withdraws, said former Democratic Party chairman Dick Harpootlian.
Greene is facing Republican incumbent U.S. Sen. Jim DeMint and Green Party nominee Tom Clements.
Greene declined to comment on the charges or his candidacy, saying only "my lawyer's handling that." Greene varied the answer three times before hanging up the phone. Efforts to reach Greene's Columbia attorney, Eleazer Carter, were unsuccessful.
Harpootlian, also a former Richland and Kershaw county solicitor, said the charges, while rare, have significant consequences.
"He could end up being designated a sex offender," Harpootlian said. "It's a serious charge."
Greene is also a political problem for state Democrats, who only learned of the felony charge after the primary. Republicans have tried to link Greene and his legal issues to the rest of the Democratic ticket.
"In June, I asked Mr. Greene to withdraw his candidacy because of the charges against him," S.C. Democratic Party chairman Carol Fowler said in a statement. "It will be impossible for Mr. Greene to address his legal issues and run a statewide campaign. The indictment renews concerns that Mr. Greene cannot represent the values of the Democratic Party or South Carolina voters."
Harpootlian said Greene's presence on the ballot will be detrimental to the issues Greene supports. Harpootlian said the party can not remove Greene since his victory has been certified.
"Any realist would understand he's got little or no chance to win," Harpootlian said. "I don't know who he listens to, but if I was his defense attorney, I would tell him to drop out of the race."
Todd Rutherford, a defense attorney and Democratic state representative, said he thinks Greene is unlikely to withdraw. Rutherford and another lawmaker traveled to Greene's Manning home to ask him to withdraw after the criminal charges were discovered.
"Unfortunately, I think that this is the horse we got," Rutherford said. "I don't think an indictment will change his mind."
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