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S. Carolina sheriff’s race marred by kidnapping allegation

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Plenty of others have their own theory. Blackwell admitted shooting a man six times in March 2011, but said it was self-defense after the other man pulled a gun. Oconee County deputies are still investigating the case, but no charges have been filed.

The other two candidates, former Oconee County deputy Mike Crenshaw and current Chief Deputy Terry Wilson, also have found themselves on the defensive at recent candidate forums.

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Crenshaw was fired last year after the sheriff accused him of lying on his timesheets, spending hours at home when he was supposed to be working, using as evidence a GPS device attached to Crenshaw’s official vehicle by internal affairs investigators. Crenshaw said the sheriff and his hand-picked top management had become so paranoid they were spying on officers they did not like, so he took to doing work at home where he knew his phones weren’t tapped and his files wouldn’t be rifled through.

Accountability has also become a big issue. Wilson insists he did not know drug money was being stolen from the sheriff’s office for two years and helped put in place safeguards so it doesn’t happen again. It’s obvious there are a lot of people not too happy with the current organization. Wilson’s website doesn’t once mention his retiring boss and promises to provide "a new direction and new ideas."

Before he found out all four candidates were tossed off the ballot along with dozens of other candidates across South Carolina who got bad advice from the parties about filing certain required economic statements, Richard Dubber was trying to figure out who to vote for. He doesn’t think the office is doing a good job, but he can’t find out what issues the candidates stand for, or what they would fight against because of all the crazy allegations.

"I’m trying very hard to find out the news," Dubber said as he loaded his groceries in his car at the Seneca Walmart. "But all I keep hearing is this silly gossip."


Collins can be reached at http://twitter.com/JSCollinsAP

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