Experience, qualifications and independence are what South Carolina needs in its next attorney general, Democrat Matthew Richardson says.
Richardson, a private attorney with more than a decade’s experience in the practice of law, was in Union County on Friday afternoon. A Barnwell native, he graduated from Duke University in 1995 with a bachelor of arts in economics. Richardson studied law at the USC-Columbia School of Law and graduated in 1998. While attending law school, Richardson served as editor of the Law Review.
After graduating from law school, Richardson served as law clerk for the Honorable Kaye Hearn on the SC Court of Appeals. He later served as law clerk for the Honorable Mike Duffy on the federal court in Charleston.
For the last decade, Richardson has been in private practice representing a wide range of clients including county and state governments. During that time he worked his way up to become a partner in his law firm, Wyche, Burgess, Freeman & Parham based in Greenville.
It is these experiences Richardson says have prepared him to serve as attorney general.
“We need an attorney to represent all the people of South Carolina,” Richardson said. “The attorney general runs the state agency, handles all the appeals from all solicitors in the state and serves as the chief legal officer for all the state’s legal issues. I’m the only candidate that has experience in private sector management and in the appellate courts. I’ve been a lawyer almost twice as long as my opponent and am prepared to handle all the state’s legal issues.”
Richardson’s opponent is Republican Alan Wilson. Richardson said Wilson, the son of U.S. Rep. Joe Wilson, has only been a lawyer for seven years. He said this leaves him unqualified to serve as a judge under the state constitution.
“The state constitution requires a lawyer to be licensed a minimum of eight years before they are qualified to be a judge,” Richardson said. “I’m the only candidate in the race who is qualified to decide legal issues in this state. An important part of the attorney general’s office is giving legal opinions to state and local government officials. The attorney general has a quasi-judicial role for all levels of government.”
Richardson said the attorney general must steer a middle course in addressing the legal issues confronting the state. He said the attorney general’s focus must be the law and not politics.
“The people of South Carolina get to elect their attorney general and we need an attorney general with the backbone to prosecute anyone who breaks the law and the independence to stand up to the extremes in both parties,” he said. “I will be the people’s attorney and not be controlled by the entrenched politicians in Columbia or Washington.”
If elected, Richardson said his primary focus will be “protecting the public; prosecuting public corruption and preserving our natural resources. Public safety is the first responsibility of government and in these tough budget times we need to take care of our core responsibility of public safety first.”
Richardson said his priority in prosecutions will be child predators then violent and career criminals. He said he will especially work to see that smaller communities like Union County get the resources they need to fight crime.
“We must be tough and fair in enforcing the law and make sure that prosecutors are finishing the job of law enforcement by keeping the violent and career criminals off our streets,” Richardson said. “I grew up in a small town and recognize the need for help in the smaller communities in keeping our schools and our streets safe.”