Embattled Solicitor Dan Johnson has filed for re-election despite questionable spending probe

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - Just minutes before the deadline, Solicitor Dan Johnson showed up to file his paperwork at the South Carolina Election Commission.

He hopes voters in Richland and Kershaw Counties give him another four years as the judicial circuit's elected prosecutor.

"I think it's up to the people to decide whether or not they want me to continue doing the job," he said after he filed.

Johnson was elected in 2010 and 2014, but this time will be different. He is being challenged, as both the FBI and SLED try to determine whether or not he and his office broke the law by spending public money on some very questionable things.

"If we missed some stuff, if my paperwork isn't right, we need to get it right, and that's all I can say," he said. "So, if it's not right, we're going to fix it. If it is right, I'll go out and say, 'Hey, I was right all along.'"

Documents watchdogs have released include dozens of head-scratching purchases:  a receipt for almost a dozen cases of beer on Hilton Head, invoices for a roughly $13,000 Christmas party complete with beef tenderloin, and bank statements that show travel to exotic destinations like the Galapagos Islands.

Yet again, as he filed Friday, Johnson dodged questions about some of those purchases.

"My thought process is to get to the bottom of it and then run it down," he said when pressed about the purchases.

Johnson did say that he's in the process of hiring an accountant who can more closely examine the office's expenditures.

"I have to get to the bottom of it. I have to figure out what's going on and make it right if there's something not right. Truth be told, heck, I wish if I could have got the county to give us an accountant from the beginning – some bowtie wearing guy to sit in there every day – I would have done it," the solicitor said.

He also said he's taken credit card access away from his communications director, who seems to have made some of the questionable purchases.

Regardless, this time around, respected attorney I.S. Leevy Johnson won't be voting for Solicitor Johnson.

"He has an obligation to explain those expenditures," he said. "Not only have I supported him in the past, I've contributed to his campaigns. I had confidence in Dan, and I am seriously disappointed about the accusations."

Instead, he's supporting his law partner – Byron Gipson – who he calls a respectable man with an impressive record in court. Gipson announced his candidacy earlier in the week.

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