The Republican Governors Association is continuing its assault on democracy with yet another ad attacking Democratic state Sen. Vincent Sheheen for daring to offer legal services to the accused:
The spot is very similar to their last one, a revolting effort to paint Sheheen (who is running against South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley) as some kind of dastardly fiend for, you know, helping criminal defendants exercise their constitutional rights. Here, the ad accuses Sheheen of "reducing" the jail time of a "sex offender who abused a minor" from "10 years to 38 days."
Of course, this is also known as "how the system works," and Sheheen didn't "reduce" anything. He negotiated a plea deal with prosecutors, who had to sign off on this agreement. (And according to The State, it's likely that the alleged victim did so as well.) What's more, as Sheheen points out, Haley's been accused of multiple ethics violations during her time in office, yet of course she's never hesitated to seek legal representation.
Nor should she, because, again, this is how our adversarial system of justice is supposed to operate. And that's why so many in the legal world have reacted with extreme hostility to the RGA's despicable ads, even including Republicans. That includes attorney Robert Luskin, who is defending none other than Chris Christie—the chair of the RGA—in the Bridgegate scandal; the South Carolina Bar Association; the American Bar Association; and former state Attorney General Charlie Condon, who describes himself as a supporter of Haley's. But as Condon points out, was John Adams unfit to serve as president because he defended British soldiers accused of perpetrating the Boston Massacre?
The RGA probably thinks so. And even more sadly, the fact that they keep running ads on this theme suggests they believe these attacks are working with voters. But the good news is that the RGA is even running ads in deep red South Carolina in the first place. If they didn't fear that Sheheen might unseat Haley, they wouldn't bother. Make no mistake: This will be a very difficult race for Democrats to win. But there's a real chance that Sheheen, and those who stand on the side of justice, will earn the last laugh here.