March 3, 2024
South Carolina Democratic state Rep. Krystle Matthews is now facing calls to drop out of the race for U.S. Senate over secretly recorded comments.

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South Carolina Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate Krystle Matthews Senate is facing calls to resign from her own party after controversial comments leaked. 

South Carolina state Rep. Krystle Matthews, running against incumbent Republican Sen. Tim Scott, was caught on tape speaking disparagingly of her constituents — specifically White constituents — in a series of remarks secretly recorded by activist group Project Veritas.

“You ought to know who you’re dealing with,” Matthews said during the taped conversation. “You’ve got to treat them like s—. That’s the only way they’ll respect you.”

In the leaked comments, Matthews additionally brags about keeping citizens in her jurisdiction “under her thumbs,” and not putting up with “White sh—.”

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FILE - South Carolina Rep. Krystle Matthews, D-Ladson, announces she will run for U.S. Senate in 2022 against Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., during a news conference on April 13, 2021, in Columbia, S.C. 

FILE – South Carolina Rep. Krystle Matthews, D-Ladson, announces she will run for U.S. Senate in 2022 against Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., during a news conference on April 13, 2021, in Columbia, S.C.  (AP Photo/Jeffrey Collins, File)

Matthews confirmed to The Associated Press that it was her voice on the tape but said the edited audio of a “tongue-in-cheek” exchange didn’t reflect the full picture, calling Project Veritas a “satirical MAGA-powered news outlet.”

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On Thursday, Democrats — including gubernatorial nominee Joe Cunningham — concurred with state Rep. Justin Bamberg, who in an op-ed published online called Matthews “toxic.”

Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., IN 2021.

Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., IN 2021. (Rod Lamkey/Pool via REUTERS)

“If any of our white counterparts had said the same thing with regards to blacks, the minority community, including myself, would be up in arms calling for that member’s immediate resignation,” Bamberg added.

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The secretly recorded audio also features more of Matthews’ conversation, in which she spoke to an inmate about funding her campaign with “dope boy money” and having Democrats run as Republicans, saying “secret sleepers” represent “the only way you’re gonna change the dynamics in South Carolina.”

State Sen. Brad Hutto, Democrats’ leader in that chamber — who was also his party’s nominee to challenge U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham in 2014 — echoed Cunningham’s comments about Matthews’ Senate bid, telling AP, “When candidates of either party start making irresponsible statements, beyond what party they’re from, they need to re-evaluate their candidacy, and that’s what needs to happen here.”

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Scott won his 2016 election to a full term by nearly 25 points. 

In 2020, then President Donald Trump carried the state by 12 points, and Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham won re-election by 10 points despite record-breaking fundraising from Democratic challenger Jaime Harrison, who’s now the chair of the Democratic National Committee.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.