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R.J. May, “Stooped to a new low,” in latest mailer according to Lexington County Council Member

Lexington, SC (Paul Kirby) – As the race up to the House District 88 runoff is drawing to a close, it has become evident that candidate R.J. May has no plans to let up on the negative, sometimes misleading campaigning aimed at his opponent Mike Sturkie. Many residents of the district reported getting four pieces of mail from May Saturday morning and all were negative pieces bashing Sturkie. They said they received one from Sturkie and it was announcing Pastor John Lastinger was endorsing him. The last of the mailbox filling campaign mailers was paid for and mailed by a group calling itself Free Speech Unite and that was decidedly negative against May. Mike Sturkie said he’s never heard of the group and didn’t approve that mailer. A Google search turned up no further information on that group in either Columbia or West Columbia, SC.

One long-serving member of the Lexington County Council who hasn’t publicly endorsed anyone during this race or any others said late Saturday night that in all the years of watching local politics, R.J. May, “Stooped to a new low Saturday with a mailer he sent regarding Mike. In that thing, May used a half sentence from an interview Mike gave to Clif LeBlanc of the State Newspaper in May of 2008. By cutting the sentences apart, May makes it look like Mike was opposed to deporting illegal immigrants. I’ve read the entire article and sentence LeBlanc wrote,” the councilmember stated Saturday night. “What R.J. did was cut the end of the sentence off just to smear Mike. Mike really said was he was opposed to deporting illegal immigrants until the nation’s borders can be secured. In that same sentence he also said he wanted to raise teacher’s pay. Both of these things lawmakers are still trying to do nine years later. If R.J. wanted to use that line, why didn’t he use the entire sentence? It’s because he was purposefully trying to mislead people. Some might say that’s a half-truth. You know what my daddy called these things? Dad called them dishonest lies and May either did it himself or approved of it!”

LeBlanc’s 2008 article was written during a three-way primary race Sturkie was in against then Senator Jake Knotts. Illegal immigrants were a hot button issue then as it has been since President Donald Trump was sworn in on January 17, 2017.

Even though Sturkie was running against Senator Knotts back in 2008, Knotts said Sunday that Mike Sturkie was telling the truth 100% about what he thought in the interview with LeBlanc. “I was in the room when Mike was testifying to a sub-committee of the state’s Labor, Commerce, and Industry Committee in 2008. He was there to represent the construction industry that used a bunch of Hispanic workers. I know what was said, it was the same thing he told Clif in the interview. When Mike was asked about rounding up all the illegals and deporting them, Mike said it would be a waste of time and money until we secured our borders. He said until that’s done, we could pay to bus and fly all the illegals back south of the border and they’d probably beat the officers who took them down there back here to America!” Knotts said that even though Sturkie ran against him, he had to send a message to May this weekend that told him how dirty he played things and how wrong misleading people like that was.

May cited another answer Sturkie provided Clif LeBlanc in a second article that ran in The State in May of 2008. LeBlanc asked Sturkie if he had ever hired illegal immigrants in his business way back then. Sturkie honestly acknowledged he had unknowingly hired illegal immigrants.

The Ledger contacted Sturkie about that controversial statement Saturday afternoon and he explained that answer. “At the time, the Federal Government’s E-Verify program had begun but each state adopted it at different times, sometimes many years later. We did exactly what we were supposed to do at the time in my business. Later, our state passed the Illegal Immigration Reform Act integrating it and making checks mandatory on June 4, 2008, about nine days after that article was written. The act was modified in 2011 after it had been used some and the state saw it needed fine tuning. That act integrated South Carolina’s records with the Fed’s. Until then, if an immigrant came into my office and applied for a job, my staff made a copy of their driver’s license and Social Security Card. They’d check the license with the DMV to see if it was valid. We'd check the Social Security Card like we were supposed to. Back then, it was easy for illegals to get forged documents that worked because information wasn’t shared between governments. They can’t do that so easily now. Back then we'd put them to work, pay them just like everyone else, take taxes out their checks, and pay those to the government; If they were here illegally, the government never told us. We later found out some had three or four sets of documents in different names. Now with a working E-Verify system, it’s easier to check and catch illegals that apply. I don’t have to worry anymore about unknowingly hiring anyone.”

May’s tricks have not only apparently misled some voters, it’s made at least one dear lady think he’s a just a dishonest man. One Christian, conservative, elderly citizen of South Congaree told The Ledger Saturday she talked to R.J. May and he, "Lied to me when I talked to him.” Others have reported similar stories.

Now Pastor John Lastinger who had told the two candidates who were in the runoff he would remain neutral if they remained civil and stuck to the issues has said he supports Mike Sturkie. Lastinger called the editor of The Lexington Ledger Friday and said he had sought counsel from trusted friends and prayed fervently about deciding whether or not to endorse Sturkie. After what Lastinger call the “ugly” continued from the May camp last week, he decided to authorize Sturkie’s campaign to mail a piece Friday announcing his endorsement of Mike Sturkie to the voters of the district. Then, on his campaign’s Facebook page Saturday, Lastinger wrote, “I had initially said that I was going to stay neutral during this run-off election unless things got ugly. Because of recent events, I feel compelled to take a stand, and let people know that I will be voting for Mike Sturkie. I believe that Mike Sturkie is the best choice for the good people of District 88 and our state.”

Sturkie is also endorsed by Gene “Bimbo” Jones, the winner of the Republican Primary race for County Council District Five and current Lexington County Council Chair Scott Whetstone of District 1. Retiring Lexington County Councilmember Bobby Keisler came out Sunday and said he is 100% behind Mike Sturkie. "I am very disappointed in the way that R.J. has campaigned," Keisler said. "After seeing what he's done during this race, I just can't see him representing the people of District 88, Lexington County, or the State of SC well. I'm now more than ever behind Mike Sturkie. He's honest and has integrity, something R.J. apparently knows nothing about!" Sturkie is also endorsed by Brian Duncan who ran for the House 88 seat as well.

R.J. May has been endorsed by Eddie McCain, the candidate that polled last in the race for House District 88 on June 9th. Valerie Lever, a South Congaree grandmother who lives off Ramblin Road, has also endorsed May. Lever was a political activist in South Congaree some years ago.

On Father’s Day Sunday, Sturkie took a few moments away from his family to make a statement when he was called. “It’s been tough staying positive when you’ve been falsely attacked over and over. “I’m not quoting R.J. verbatim but he said something during the debate, something like if he won the race, he’d go to Columbia and shake things up. May said he had no problem “Primarying” other members of the legislature if they didn’t agree with his views. It’s on the Lexington County Republican Party’s Facebook page and you can watch it for yourself and see what his exact words were. I just pray every night that the people of this great area aren't represented by someone who lies and misleads as much as R.J. May has during this campaign. It could hurt them seriously and even impact our entire county Legislative Delegation.

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