Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Former SCGOP chief under investigation by Disciplinary Counsel for Twitter use

Lawsuit claims officials violated First Amendment rights of self-proclaimed ‘Honey Badger of American Politics’

Posted by Paul Bowers on Wed, Jul 16, 2014 at 12:24 PM

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According to a lawsuit filed in a federal court Monday, former S.C. Republican Party Executive Director Todd Kincannon has been under investigation by the state's Office of Disciplinary Counsel for two years due to his oft-inflammatory use of Twitter.

Kincannon, a Columbia lawyer specializing in consumer law and debt defense, is now suing the Office of Disciplinary Counsel and its subsidiary, the Commission on Lawyer Conduct, for allegedly violating his "fundamental rights of free speech, equal protection, and due process." (Click here to read the full lawsuit.) The ODC, a division of the state Judicial Department, is responsible for handling complaints against judges and lawyers and "prosecuting those judges and lawyers who have either committed ethical misconduct, or are suffering from a physical or mental condition which adversely affects their ability to serve the public," according to its website. We'll leave it to you to decide which condition applies in this case.

Kincannon hasn't worked in politics since his brief stint as director of the state GOP in 2010, but he continues to piss off liberals and plain old decent people with his positively vile Twitter account, @Todd__Kincannon, where popular subjects have included putting transgender people in concentration camps, calling Trayvon Martin a "rabid dog," and mocking victims of the UCSB shootings. In the lawsuit, Kincannon says he has been the subject of a "secret investigation" by the ODC for his "use of social media for political and religious advocacy." The account has been silent since June 22.

According to his lawsuit, left-wingers have been filing bar complaints and law enforcement complaints in an attempt to shut down his advocacy. He says those complainants must have gotten the state agencies' ear, because early this month, "Defendants finally notified Kincannon in no uncertain terms that they took the position that his political commentary is unethical." Kincannon claims that this interfered with the release of his Kickstarter-funded book, Useless Idiots: The Proper Care and Feeding of Liberals.

"Defendants claim that the First Amendment simply doesn't apply to South Carolina lawyers, and bar complaints hold a heckler's veto over anything a South Carolina lawyer might say in the realm of political or religious advocacy," Kincannon writes in the lawsuit, which seeks "all relief available" in damages from the defendants.

A few other factoids from the lawsuit:

• Kincannon claims that his account is "one of the most popular Twitter accounts in the world by all measures."

• The stuff he tweets is allegedly "no more offensive than something one might hear from Howard Stern, Rush Limbaugh, or Bill Maher."

• Kincannon includes the detail that his law practice has already netted him "over one million dollars in income realizable" so far this year and he expects to make $3 million more by the end of the year.

Officials from the Office of Disciplinary Counsel were not available for comment this morning.

A previous version of this article identified Kincannon as former chairman of the SCGOP. Kincannon's position with the party was executive director. We regret the error.

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