A longtime election official has resigned from his post after he and his wife apparently teamed up to swipe and vandalize Trump-Pence campaign signs in a South Carolina neighborhood.
Dean Smith, a 15-year member of Georgetown County’s elections board and its chairman up until last week, resigned Wednesday after a deer camera set up in a yard appeared to capture an individual removing and defacing Trump campaign signs, according to GAB News.
Smith offered his resignation within the first few minutes of the Georgetown County Board of Voter Registration and Elections meeting that day.
Before he was videotaped leaving the meeting, Smith read a prepared statement to the attendees, acknowledging his actions were “a brief lapse in judgment on my part [that] might become a distraction [to the] conduct of this very important election. I therefore hereby resign from this board effective immediately.”
While he did not comment directly about his involvement in the incident, Smith added, “It had been an honor and privilege to work with all of you. I’m very proud of the 15 years I’ve been involved in Georgetown County elections, and I’m sorry it has to end like this.”
GAB News pursued Smith as he attempted to exit the meeting premises, asking if he personally defaced any Trump campaign signs. Smith walked briskly ahead of the reporter, remaining silent as he left the building. After climbing into a vehicle’s passenger seat, Smith held papers in front of his face while the car drove away.
“I’ve always prided myself that when I walk in that door I’m not a Republican or Democrat,” Smith, 71, told the Coastal Observer. “I’m just an American and a Georgetown County citizen.”
Earlier in the week, Smith and his wife Rita — the president of the Rosecrest Homeowners Association — were named in a Georgetown County Sheriff’s Office report claiming Dean Smith “helped his wife deface a Trump/Pence campaign sign,” the outlet reported.
The sheriff’s office investigation was sparked by an anonymous photographer who installed the camera after his Trump signs kept mysteriously disappearing. Karol Anderson, chair of the county’s Republican Party, and Jerry Rovner, who chairs the 7th Congressional District GOP committee, were the ones who filed the report.
“The camera showed someone take one sign and damage another by writing ‘dump’ over Trump’s name on Oct. 4. Rovner and Anderson said they didn’t recognize the person, so they put three photos on social media via GAB News,” the Coastal Observer reported.
“The complainants stated they did not know the offenders but put the photos on social media via GAB News and received approximately five phone calls from people who identified the offenders from the photos,” the sheriff’s office report said.
According to GAB, Rita Smith was identified as the person “taking one sign and damaging another by writing the word Dump over the name Trump,” while authorities were told that Dean Smith was the getaway driver.
However, WPDE-TV reported, also citing the sheriff’s office report, that Dean Smith was the one who allegedly defaced the one sign while removing the other, before being driven away by his wife.
The sheriff’s office has since referred the matter to the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division for further investigation.
Rita Smith told the Coastal Observer that she received some forewarning of GAB’s social media photo blitz when a neighbor who she had argued with in September over his Trump flag cracked the famous catchphrase to her, “Smile, you’re on candid camera.”
She admitted to defacing the Trump campaign sign, but justified removal of the signage, claiming the signs were “a violation of our HOA covenants.”
“I had seen some signs that were at the entrance to Rosecrest property and it is very vague as to where the property lines are. And I believe those signs were on Rosecrest property and they were a violation of our HOA covenants. And so, I removed them,” she told GAB. “If there is anything here, I think it is an honest misunderstanding.”
Smith said the sign debacle kicked off in September, when another Rosecrest resident complained about the Trump flag hoisted over a neighbor’s garage. Smith told the Coastal Observer that after she and a fellow board member challenged the resident with the Trump flag, he screamed at them “in a political tirade.”
“Smith said a Trump sign then appeared on common property at the Rosecrest entrance. She removed it. Another sign appeared,” the Coastal Observer reported. According to Smith, only real estate signs are allowed.
“Our emotions got the best of us,” Smith told the Coastal Observer of the removal and defacing of the signs.
“It was because we were angry with the other resident,” her husband added.
In a statement to WPDE, Dean Smith described the problem as “an HOA issue.”
“The people that reported this, put a sign on someone else’s property without their knowledge, and they insulted and attacked my wife who is the HOA president and asked them to get rid of the signs. The camera that took our picture was also put on someone else’s property,” he said.
The Smiths told the Coastal Observer they have filed their own report with the sheriff’s office, claiming they are now the target of harassment.
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