[image-1] Republican candidate for governor and Mt. Pleasant attorney Catherine Templeton has named Thirteenth District Solicitor Walt Wilkins as her running mate.
Wilkins, 44, was born in Greenville and has been the top prosecutor in Greenville and Pickens counties since 2011. He previously served as Assistant U.S. Attorney, according to Templeton’s campaign.
The news was first reported by the Associated Press.
In a press release Tuesday morning, the campaign highlighted Wilkins’ commitment to prosecuting ethnic minorities.
“Throughout his career, Wilkins helped infiltrate and dismantle some of South Carolina’s most violent gangs including the Crips, Bloods, MS13, and the Latin Kings; prosecuted and helped deport hundreds of illegal immigrants; participated in the largest illegal immigration raid in South Carolina history; and oversaw the prosecution and imprisonment of convicted radical Islamic terrorist Abdullah al-Muhajir,” according to the release.
Wilkins drew criticism from law enforcement experts earlier this year for a memo in which he directed local agencies under this jurisdiction to withhold the names of officers involved in fatal shootings while investigations are ongoing.
“While a case is under review and no charges are made, we’re not going to identify a particular officer who had just had to use his service weapon,” Wilkins said, according to the Greenville News. “We’re not going to subject him to scrutiny by the public until a case has been vetted and completed. They still have the same rights as everybody else.”
University of South Carolina law professor and former police officer Seth Stoughton called the decision “anti-democratic.”
“Particularly with the relatively extreme action of taking someone’s life or attempting to by shooting at them, there’s a strong public interest in knowing relevant details and that includes an officer’s name,” Stoughton said.
The Greenville County Sheriff’s Office has yet to release the names of four officers involved in the fatal shooting of Jermaine Massey on March 19. All four officers were cleared of wrongdoing in an internal investigation.
“Two of our state’s top problems are corruption and crime,” said Templeton. “Walt’s wheelhouse is all of the very important things that keep us safe in South Carolina, and we’re going to work in partnership on those things.”
Templeton told AP that she hopes Wilkins’ lieutenant governor position will be a “partnership,” and that he would be tasked with “eliminating redundancies and finding efficiencies in state agencies such as corrections, juvenile justice, and the State Law Enforcement Division.”
The office of the Thirteenth Judicial Circuit declined to release the memo to CP on Tuesday, choosing to process the request under the Freedom of Information Act instead.
Primary elections for governor will be held on June 12.