Attorney General: Republican Club's fundraiser offering handgun as prize is illegal raffle

mmcnab@beaufortgazette.comMay 8, 2014 

There are many variations of Colt M1911 pistols. Shown is a Remington-made Colt M1911 A1.

STOCK IMAGE

A fundraiser by a local political club that offers a handgun as a prize is illegal under state law, according to an S.C. Attorney General's Office spokesman.

The Greater Bluffton Republican Club is offering a Colt M1911 handgun and 30 minutes of shooting-range instruction as a prize in its "Second Amendment Fundraiser," but the drawing would violate state law, which prohibits raffles and lotteries.

Each of the 500 tickets to be entered into the drawing costs $20, and the club had sold six as of Thursday, according to an online donation page.

All raffles, except the state lottery, are illegal in South Carolina, Attorney General's Office spokesman Mark Powell said.

Republican Club president Joseph Iaco said the drawing was just a fundraiser, but declined to comment further. He referred all questions to vice president Marcie Flynn; attempts Wednesday and Thursday to reach Flynn for comment were unsuccessful.

About a year ago, the club dropped a fundraiser in which an AR-15 rifle was the possible prize in exchange for a $10 contribution. It sold about half of the 500 entries in that raffle before 14th Circuit Solicitor Duffie Stone told the club the raffle was not allowed.

Stone said Wednesday he had not heard about this year's fundraiser and had not talked to anyone from the club about it. Last year, club members contacted him about the AR-15 raffle, but none of the alternatives they proposed to keep the fundraiser going were legal under state law, he said.

He said three factors determine whether a drawing constitutes a lottery: if a person had to give anything to get a ticket, if the winner is drawn or picked by chance, and if there is any form of payout.

"What you call it is irrelevant," Stone said.

Although the current drawing isn't referred to as a raffle on the Republican club's website, a 2004 S.C. Attorney General's Office opinion said calling a raffle a different name doesn't make it legal.

Last May, Flynn said the AR-15 was more a door prize than a raffle. However, door-prize giveaways also are illegal in South Carolina.

Follow reporter Matt McNab at twitter.com/IPBG_Matt.

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