Alvin: Time To Call FALA On Your Obscenity Charge? (UPDATED)

MANNING, S.C.—The wackiest South Carolina political race in a long time just got a little wackier, as a grand jury in Richland County indicted Democratic senatorial candidate Alvin Greene on August 13 on one felony count of "disseminating, procuring or promoting obscenity" as well as a misdemeanor count of "communicating obscene materials to a person without consent."

The possibility of the indictment had been hanging over Greene's head since he was charged by local police last November 4 with allegedly showing sexually explicit pictures to 18-year-old coed Camille McCoy in a campus computer lab, after which he allegedly said, "Let's go to your room now."

"It was kind of scary; he's a pretty big boy," Camille, who is white, told Mother Jones magazine. "He could've overpowered me."

"He had no business being there," added Camille's mother Susan, who claimed that university officials had told Greene that he was not allowed on certain parts of the campus.

Greene is running against incumbent ultra-conservative Sen. Jim DeMint, having trounced his Dem opponent, retired judge and legislator Vic Rawl, in the June 8 primary, where Greene got 59 percent of the vote.

Suspicions immediately arose concerning Greene's candidacy, since he had put out no campaign literature, had held no public rallies and had raised no funds for his race. Moreover, he owned neither a cellphone nor a computer, was unemployed and lived with his parents. When asked, Greene also failed to account for the source of the $10,400 filing fee necessary to enter the senate race in the first place. However, according to CNN, an investigation by the "South Carolina Law Enforcement Division" in July found that the bulk of the filing fee had come from a tax refund and Greene's severance pay after his involuntary (though honorable) discharge from the Air Force in 2009, after a 13-year career during which his superior officers described Greene as an "ineffective leader who lacked organization and was unable to express thoughts clearly." Puzzling, however, is the fact that the state attorney general's office said that it had not received a request from the Law Enforcement Division to subpoena Greene's bank records, leaving the source(s) of the funds still open to question.

Suspicions about Greene's candidacy still exist, especially in light of the fact that South Carolina is an "open primary" state, where Republican voters could have "crossed over" and voted for Greene in the Democratic primary—and of course, the obscenity charges coming now, just three months before the November election, suggest that Republican operatives may have urged the Richland County solicitor's office to press for the indictment as the final "nail in the coffin" of Greene's candidacy, thereby assuring a win for DeMint even though conservative incumbents are struggling to maintain their constituencies in light of their party's massive failures in Washington.

Moreover, it's unclear whether the Greene indictments are even supportable, because although it was reported that the McCoy incident was captured on university surveillance cameras, it's doubtful that the exact images Greene allegedly showed McCoy will be discernable from the tape, and absent evidence that the images were legally obscene, the charges against Greene will likely be dismissed.

However, were he to be convicted, Greene faces a five year sentence and $10,000 fine for the felony charge, and three years and another $10,000 for the misdemeanor.

Meanwhile, Greene continues to sabotage his own candidacy by doing things like giving a 23-second speech to supporters at a town meeting in Columbia, S.C. Thursday night, after which Greene's "campaign staff" continued to work the crowd for donations while Greene moved through the assemblage and shook hands—all of it recorded by a documentary film crew that's been following Greene for several weeks.

Check back with for more on the country's strangest senatorial race as it progresses.

UPDATE: The original headline of this article suggested that Greene call Paul Cambria to help with his obscenity charges, but after speaking to several First Amendment attorneys, I now realize that that headline was ill-advised, since it singles out one attorney as (one could assume from the headline) the best person for Greene's defense. That's simply not true. I am on speaking terms with over a dozen First Amendment attorneys, all of whom are members of FALA—the First Amendment Lawyers Association—and any one of them (plus many more I don't have frequent contact with) would be more than qualified to handle Greene's case. I used Cambria's name in the headline because it was easily recognizable, and because I felt that "personalizing" the headline would give it more "oomph." But any number of attorneys' names could have been used, and I apologize to those who were offended by my off-handed choice. Rest assured, it was not intentional.