Wilson touts record in her first TV ad for solicitor's race

The Post and Courier
Friday May 16, 2008

Republican 9th Circuit Solicitor Scarlett Wilson aired her first TV ad Thursday after Blair Jennings, her rival in the June 10 GOP primary, hit the airwaves last week. Wilson's 30-second spot highlights her 15 years as a federal and state prosecutor, and her appointment by Gov. Mark Sanford as solicitor for Charleston and Berkeley counties.


AD TITLE: "Proven Prosecutor"

MEDIA AGENCY: Drummond Communications Group of Columbia. Chris Drummond is former communications director for Sanford, and previously worked in Charleston TV news. Other media clients have included "No Home Tax," a property tax-elimination group, he said.

KEY IMAGES: Wilson touts her record of more than 65 cases tried, including murder, rape and a death-penalty case, with 24 convicted criminals currently serving life sentences. Wilson talks with two elderly supporters on a porch, and pushes a friend's two young children on a swing.

KEY DIALOGUE: "I've moved to close the revolving door used by repeat violent criminals. I've created a special victim's unit to handle cases involving children and the elderly."

REALITY CHECK: Wilson has prosecuted one death penalty case in her career but did not get the death sentence for the accused. After winning a conviction at trial, the jury instead opted to give the killer life in prison. The case involved the 2000 murder of West Ashley pawnshop owner Joe Howell, which she prosecuted with the late Solicitor Ralph Hoisington.

Three death-penalty cases currently are scheduled in Berkeley and Charleston counties, including the one for the slaying of state Constable Robert Bailey.

STOPPING THE REVOLVING DOOR: Wilson in December was able to get an order from state Supreme Court Chief Justice Jean Toal that allowed prosecutors to seek bond modifications or revocations in Charleston County's Centralized Preliminary Hearing Court. Previously, bond-revocation matters would have been done in front of a circuit judge, a longer process. Allowing revocation matters to be handled in front of a preliminary hearing magistrate means accused criminals charged with re-offending while free on bond can have their bonds revoked more quickly by the Solicitor's Office. Statistics were not available on how many bonds have been addressed in this manner.

JENNINGS' RESPONSE: Campaign spokesperson Terry Sullivan said he finds it odd that Wilson "would choose to highlight her experience trying a death-penalty case since she failed to actually ever get the death penalty."

WILSON'S LAST WORD: "Blair and I both sat alongside Solicitor Hoisington as he sought the death penalty in the two death- penalty cases that have been tried," Wilson said. "As far as murder trials, I have tried at least twice as many as Mr. Jennings in our time at the solicitor's office."

The ad is on all four local TV stations.


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