The chairman of Beaufort County’s voter registration and elections board says he has apologized for the second time since December for forwarding a partisan email.
Ron Clifford says he made a mistake by forwarding a viral email to a small group of people on Feb. 23 — just days before the Democratic primary — that included claims of voter fraud in the 2012 U.S. presidential election. He sent a different partisan email in October, urging Republicans to vote, and apologized a few months later after drawing criticism from Beaufort County Democratic Party chairman Blaine Lotz.
Lotz sent Clifford’s second email to The Island Packet and The Beaufort Gazette last week and called for the board chairman’s resignation.
“This is preposterous that he would continue in his position to send out these inflammatory things that aren’t even true in the first place,” Lotz said Tuesday, adding that he was unconvinced by Clifford’s second apology. “... Once I’m fooled, twice I’m not.”
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While Clifford said Tuesday he would be vigilant in screening emails for political slant, he said he was frustrated his political views were calling into question his work as board chairman.
“Do I believe in same-sex marriage? No, not in any way. Do I believe in abortion? Hell no, because that’s killing kids right and left,” Clifford said. “... I don’t believe in any of that crap, but does that mean I can’t do the job I’m doing at the election board? I don’t think so.”
The email Clifford forwarded on Feb. 23 included eight purported instances of voter fraud in the 2012 U.S. presidential election, citing them as proof of the importance of requiring voters show photo IDs.
The email ends, “Obama won in every state that did not require a Photo ID and lost in everystate (sic) that did require a Photo ID in order to vote . Imagine that..... ARE WE THE DUMBEST NATION ON THE PLANET OR WHAT !!!???????”
Nearly identical viral emails have been circulated since at least January 2013, but their claims are false and misleading, according to myth-busting websites Snopes.com, Factcheck.org and Truthorfiction.com.
Nearly identical viral emails have been circulated since at least Jan. 2013, but their claims are false and misleading, according to myth-busting websites Snopes.com, Factcheck.org and Truthorfiction.com.
Clifford said he had tried to check the facts of the email and did not believe what he found on Snopes.com because it is “owned by the left.” Still, he said upon re-reading his email since Feb. 23, he realized it was an attack on Democrats and President Barack Obama but stands by the call for stricter voter ID laws.
In South Carolina, voters must present a state driver’s license, department of motor vehicles ID card, voter registration card with a photo, military ID or U.S. passport.
Clifford declined to provide the newspapers with a copy of his email apology, saying, “I don’t want you twisting everything around to make a mountain out of a damn molehill.”
“I sent one email that’s partisan, and the paper gets hold of it, and it’s un-freaking-believable how the media in this country works,” he added.
Clifford sent the other partisan email in October, a message that urged local Republicans to become committeemen or presidents at local precincts.
At the time, Clifford said he had not noticed the email’s partisan nature and should have read it more carefully, adding that he has worked to avoid party affiliations in his 11 years of service on the Beaufort County elections board.
The S.C. State Election Commission said the October email did not violate state law because it did not directly involve a political campaign, and board members are prohibited from taking part in the management of a political campaign, making contributions to a candidate, knowingly attending a campaign event or holding a political office.
Clifford was appointed to his post by the governor and could be removed by the governor or an “appropriate authority” if he were to violate the law, according to election commission spokesman Chris Whitmire.
Whitmire and Gov. Nikki Haley’s press office did not respond to requests for comment Tuesday.
The emails are not the only demonstration of Clifford’s support of the Republican Party. On July 6, 2014, a link was posted on his Facebook page to the website of the Christian Coalition of America, a conservative grassroots political organization, and a page that argues the Obama administration is “actively working to undermine traditional marriage laws.”
With the link, Clifford wrote, “We need to stand up for traditional marriage. If it had been Adam and Steve none of us would be here. Does anyone understand this.”
Clifford said he has made that statement many times before but has never posted on Facebook and would not write something partisan due to his role on the elections board. He said it’s possible his wife posted the link.
Email sent by Ron Clifford on Feb. 23
Subject: Why Do Republicans Want Voter ID ?
Evil triumphs when good men do nothing.
Ever wonder why Republicans want voter ID.?
- In 59 voting districts in the Philadelphia region, Obama received 100% of the votes with not even a single vote recorded for Romney. (A mathematical and statistical impossibility).
- In 21 districts in Wood County Ohio, Obama received 100% of the votes where GOP inspectors were illegally removed from their polling locations - and not one single vote was recorded for Romney. (Another statistical impossibility).
- In Wood County Ohio, 106,258 voted in a county with only 98,213 eligible voters.
- In St. Lucie County, FL, there were 175,574 registered eligible voters but 247,713 votes were cast.
- The National SEAL Museum, a polling location in St. Lucie County, FL had a 158% voter turnout.
- Palm Beach County, FL had a 141% voter turnout.
- In one Ohio County, Obama won by 108% of the total number of eligible voters.
NOTE: Obama won in every state that did not require a Photo ID and lost in everystate that did require a Photo ID in order to vote . Imagine that.....
ARE WE THE DUMBEST NATION ON THE PLANET OR WHAT !!!???????
- Ron Clifford, Beaufort County voter registration and elections board chairman