S.C. secretary of state candidate to visit Hilton Head

tbarton@islandpacket.comFebruary 28, 2014 



A Charleston nonprofit consultant running for S.C. secretary of state will stop on Hilton Head Island on Saturday for a private political fundraiser.

Ginny Deerin co-founded Project XX, a nonprofit dedicated to promoting women candidates for statewide positions. She also managed Charleston Mayor Joe Riley's last re-election bid in 2011 and founded WINGS for Kids, an after-school program that teaches young children social and emotional skills.

In 2010, Deerin received the Order of the Palmetto award for outstanding service to the state.

Sould she win, Deerin would become the fifth woman, including Gov. Nikki Haley, to be elected to a statewide office in South Carolina.

Asked if her gender is the main reason why she's running, Deerin said Friday, "It is part of what inspired me to run, for sure. ... It's not why I'm running, but it's a cherry on the ice cream sundae."

The Secretary of State's Office receives and organizes information, such as articles of incorporation, from companies and nonprofit groups.

Deerin said her work as a small-business woman, fundraiser and adviser to nonprofits has given her a close look at an office many voters don't deal with -- one she says "has become a bloated bureaucracy that's gotten way too involved in the business of South Carolina companies and nonprofits."

She wants to cut the office's fees for nonprofits and businesses, reduce its regulations and budget, and improve customer service.

"In today's world of digital technology, we should be able to perform those services much more efficiently," she said. "As a result, not only is the effectiveness of these institutions being compromised, but also we are being wasteful with taxpayer money. I want to fix that."

Deerin is the only Democrat to express interest in the seat so far. She faces Republican incumbent Mark Hammond, who said Friday he will seek a fourth term. He won 61 percent of the vote in 2010.

As for Deerin's claims, Hammond contends the Secretary of State's Office has "made tremendous progress in offering a lot of online services."

By the end of the year, businesses should be able to file articles of incorporation online, he said. Hammond also pushed for legislation pending in the S.C. Senate that would require those soliciting charitable donations to disclose whether they have been convicted of identity theft, forgery or fraud.

"We need transparency and accountability to help protect our charitable donors in the state," Hammond said. "No one works harder for the nonprofit community than me ... and that's what I intend to continue to do."

Filing for the seat opens at noon March 16.

The (Charleston) Post and Courier contributed to this report.

Follow reporter Tom Barton at twitter.com/IPBG_Tom.

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