A Hardeeville man whose write-in candidacy for City Council is getting a boost from Comedy Central hopes a judge will give him an assist, too -- at a court hearing Tuesday.
Scott Ready filed an appeal Wednesday in Circuit Court challenging a March 15 decision by the Hardeeville Municipal Election Commission. The three commissioners declared him ineligible for the ballot in the May 8 election because of a clerical error, despite a State Ethics Commission determination his paperwork was in order.
Ready is asking 14th Circuit Judge Carmen Mullen to overrule the commission and put his name on the ballot.
An emergency hearing is scheduled for 1 p.m. Tuesday at the Beaufort County Courthouse, 102 Ribaut Road. Mullen is the chief administrative judge overseeing Beaufort and Jasper counties.
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Jasper County elections and voter registration director Jeanine Bostick says her office needs to know by 5 p.m. Wednesday if his name will be on the ballot. Bostick said Thursday her office will be preparing next week for the June primary and can no longer hold up processing absentee ballots for the May 8 city election.
Ready's attorney, Jared Newman, expects Mullen to make a decision the day of the hearing.
Ready, 48, mistakenly filed as an "elected official" rather than as a "candidate." He said he thought he was filing to become an elected official, a common mistake that he, his lawyer and the Ethics Commission say should not have disqualified him.
"I filed this appeal to bring justice and realization to the fact this is an election, not a selection," he said Thursday.
The Hardeeville commission's decision raised eyebrows because its chairwoman, Joyce Meeks, is the mother-in-law of incumbent Roy Powell, who is seeking re-election.
Meeks did not recuse herself from the decision and has said she faced no conflict of interest. She also has maintained the law says those running for the local office must file as a "candidate" or their name will not appear on the ballot.
She declined to comment Thursday.
State law prohibits a public official -- including those on local election commissions -- from voting or deciding on matters in which a family member has an economic interest of $50 or more. Powell claimed $8,000 in personal income from the City of Hardeeville in his Statement of Economic Interest form filed with the ethics commission Feb. 21.
Ready is serious about his candidacy, but Comedy Central has imparted a bit of levity by naming him one of its "One of a Kind Candidates." Ready was recognized Tuesday on "Indecision Forever," the cable network's blog page that provides satirical political humor. Attempts Thursday to reach Hardeeville city attorney David Tedder were unsuccessful.
"This case presents the type of stunning contortions that thwart fair and open elections and suppress choices for the electorate," Newman wrote in the appeal. "The voters of Hardeeville deserve qualified candidates such as (Ready) to have a full and fair election and vetting of issues."
Comedy Central says it will help Ready get his name out to voters, for free, by offering editorial copy for his first media blitz. Even a little guy in rural Hardeeville needs help. Or as the network puts it: "Democracy: It's not just for famous people."
Ready has said he favors their slogan "Ready or Scott."