By Mike McCombs
In February, Helen Spalding was appointed to a six-year term on the City of Beaufort’s non-partisan Election Commission by the City Council.
Now her presence on the commission is in question.
Spalding was involved in the organization of the far-right Audit The SC 2020 Vote Rally held Aug. 30 at the Olde Beaufort Golf Club. She publicized the rally before and afterward on her social media pages, and her email address was listed on a flier advertising the event as the RSVP contact.
Mayor Stephen Murray said that he learned of Spalding’s involvement in the rally on the night of Monday, Aug. 30. He characterized his feelings on the matter as “disappointment” and said he conveyed that message in a phone conversation with Spalding later in the week.
Spalding could be removed from the position, but the City Council would have to vote to remove her. Murray said that the Council needed time to do its homework and would likely seek legal advice, as well, and discuss the matter in executive session at the next regularly scheduled City Council meeting. That meeting is slated for Tuesday, Sept. 14.
As of press time, Spalding had not responded to an email from The Island News seeking comment.
According to the City of Beaufort website, “Members of the Beaufort Elections Commission assist at polling places in the City of Beaufort during elections. They also are present during the certification of votes. The commission is comprised of two members, who serve a term of six years. The board meets twice a year. The commission coordinates with the Beaufort County Board of Voter Registration & Elections.”
The city’s code on the non-partisan municipal election commission states, “The city and its municipal election commission shall remain responsible for the total cost of conducting all municipal elections including providing the supplies to be used at the precincts, the certification of all candidates, the designation of polling places, the inspection and visitation of polls during election day, the recruitment and assignment of poll managers, securing telephones for the polling precincts, the hearing of challenged ballots and ruling on any other protest and/or complaints regarding the election or its procedures and the certification of election results.”
In its emails over the past week, the Northern Beaufort County Democratic Club has encouraged its members to contact Murray and members of the City Council and voice their concerns over Spalding’s activities in relation to her presence on the commission.
In recent emails, the group characterizes the Audit The SC 2020 Vote Rally, as well as the upcoming Sept. 11 “Election Fraud & Audit Committee” event at the Beaufort Hilton Garden Inn in Hilton Head, which Spalding has also championed, as events “intended to undermine confidence in our democratic electoral system.”
“Clearly she does not belong on this commission,” the group said in Sept. 2 email.
About 250 people showed up at the Aug. 30 rally that included speakers Seth Keshel and Lin Wood, along with several others.
Keshel is the author of a widely spread but debunked conspiracy theory that former President Donald Trump won seven key states that were instead awarded to President Joe Biden.
A Pro-Trump lawyer and Beaufort County resident, Wood was sanctioned recently, along with several other lawyers who filed lawsuits challenging the results of the 2020 election.
“Sanctions are required to deter the filing of future frivolous lawsuits designed primarily to spread the narrative that our election processes are rigged and our democratic institutions cannot be trusted,” U.S. District Judge Linda Parker, of the Eastern District of Michigan, wrote in her 110-page opinion.
The lawyers are ordered to reimburse attorneys’ fees that the city of Detroit and Michigan state officials paid to defend the lawsuit, and they are to take legal education classes. Parker also referred the case to the jurisdiction where each lawyer was admitted to the bar for the appropriate discipline, which could include disbarment.
WATCH FOR YOURSELF
Here are videos of four speakers from the Aug. 30 Audit The SC 2020 Vote Rally held at Olde Beaufort Golf Club.
Mike McCombs is the editor of The Island News and can be reached at TheIslandNews@gmail.com.