Alex Murdaugh, old money SC Democrat, knew how 'to play political game' in red state: GOP consultant
Lawyers say Murdaugh housekeeper’s heirs never received money after reportedly falling, dying in family home
Estate attorneys for the Murdaugh Family’s housekeeper, Gloria Satterfield, Eric Bland and Ronny Richter discuss the investigation into her death and its aftermath on ‘The Story’
A once prominent Democrat in South Carolina’s Lowcountry region, Alex Murdaugh and his family members made hundreds of thousands of dollars of political donations over the years. The now disgraced attorney’s web ran deep, as contributions went to anyone from candidates in local municipality elections to Joe Biden and Hillary Clinton’s past presidential bids.
Murdaugh “knew how to play the political game,” Michael Mule, a GOP political consultant based in Charleston told Fox News Digital, explaining that Murdaugh donated mostly to Democratic candidates, including former U.S. Rep. Joe Cunningham, but also to many Republicans in the traditionally red state.
The allegations against the prominent attorney are “painting a picture of this guy who truly thought he could do anything and get away with anything,” Mule said, describing how local residents in Hampton – with a population of about 2,500 people – and the surrounding area want justice for a growing list of alleged victims, whose names include Gloria Satterfield, Mallory Beach, Connor Cook and Stephen Smith.
“Murdaugh gave money to Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton, Joe Cunningham, among other Democrats,” Mule told Fox News Digital. “But he also donated to Republicans across our red state. The guy knew how to play the political game here. In politics far too often, money means power.”
“Hundreds of thousands of dollars connected to Alex Murdaugh in political donations show that he’s no different. His influence, especially in the Lowcountry, was unmatched,” Mule continued. “The donations went from as local of an office as you can to the top of the ticket. A total between him, his wife, his father, his brother, the law firm, you’re talking hundreds of thousands of dollars.”
Fox News Digital verified those claims through the Federal Election Commission, as well as the South Carolina State Ethics Commission’s public disclosure websites. FEC records show Alex Murdaugh made a $2,700 donation to Biden For President in April 2020, as well as a $2,700 donation for Hillary For America in June 2015. At the state level, SEC records show a total of about $140,000 in donations made between Alex Murdaugh, his wife, brother, father and law firm over the past decade in the state House and Senate, Charleston mayoral, and local Clerk of Court and City Council races.
“The sentiment from the folks in the area is there are still several grieving families in the Lowcountry who want answers,” Mule said. “They want justice. It’s my hope that one day that these families will get just that. Answers to the questions that they have and quite frankly, justice for their loved ones.”
Alex Murdaugh sits during his bond hearing Thursday, Sept. 16, 2021, in Varnville, South Carolina.
(AP Photo/Mic Smith)
Mule, who recently worked as a public affairs specialist at the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of South Carolina, said he could not comment on whether any case has been opened by federal prosecutors related to Alex Murdaugh or his family members. As the current president of UPT Strategies, a Republican political consulting firm based in Charleston, Mule agreed to speak with Fox News Digital more broadly about the political influence Murdaugh had in the state’s Lowcountry region.
“South Carolina is a place where through one connection or another you really know of everybody. Especially in the Lowcountry, that hometown feel. The degrees of separation are very limited,” he said. “Everyone has some sort of connection to one another. And that’s why again, it’s important to share the sentiment of what people are saying here.”
On what would be Stephen Smith’s 25th birthday, his mother, Sandy Smith, announced Wednesday to local news outlets a new fundraiser to get his gravesite at Gooding Cemetery a proper headstone. Rumors and speculation have surrounded his death on July 8, 2015, when the 19-year-old’s body was found on Sandy Run Road in Hampton County with deep gashes to the head.
It wasn’t until this June that South Carolina’s State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) opened an investigation into Smith’s death “based upon information gathered during the course of the double murder investigation of [son and wife] Paul and Maggie Murdaugh.” The agency has not disclosed the connection between the two cases. Alex Murdaugh dialed 911 to report coming home to find his wife and 22-year-old son shot dead at the family’s hunting estate in Colleton County on June 7. No one has been named as suspects.
“He loved the beach. So we’re going to do like a beach scene and then have his picture on there,” Sandy said, describing the design she pictures for her son’s headstone. Give new attention to the case, she said a stranger contacted her after noticing Smith’s gravesite had just a simple marker and started the fundraiser through Steedley Monument Works.
“I was so happy. I couldn’t even cry for hours. I was in shock,” Sandy told WCIV of hearing about SLED’s probe years after her son’s death. “I know Stephen. He wouldn’t have been in that road. He had his phone on him. He would have called.”
Meanwhile, the Murdaugh family reportedly never paid for the funeral of Gloria Satterfield, a 57-year-old housekeeper and nanny who had worked in their home for two decades. She died at the hospital on Feb. 26, 2018 – weeks after supposedly sustaining a head injury by tripping and falling over dogs and down the steps at a different home owned by the Murdaughs in Colleton County.
Satterfield’s sons asked a judge in a new motion Monday to have Murdaugh civilly detained until he hands over the alleged millions of dollars he embezzled from them following their mother’s death. Murdaugh and others allegedly secured $505,000 and $4.3 million insurance settlements, and despite being entitled to $2.8 million of that money, Satterfield’s sons haven’t seen a dime, according to the filing.
A separate filing made public a week ago describes how Alex Murdaugh allegedly pressured Connor Cook to keep quiet following a February 2019 boat crash that resulted in the death of 19-year-old Mallory Beach in Beaufort County. An underage Paul Murdaugh was allegedly grossly intoxicated and behind the wheel when he crashed the boat into a bridge, sending several passengers into the water. But Alex later launched a “whisper campaign” in the area, spreading the rumor that Cook, who suffered a broken jaw and other injures after the crash, was the one driving, the filing says.
Murdaugh was released on his own recognizance earlier this month, allowed to travel back to an out-of-state rehabilitation facility to treat a supposedly decadeslong opioid addiction. In a separate matter, he is charged with insurance fraud, conspiracy to commit insurance fraud, and filing a false police report after allegedly plotting his own death so that his surviving son, 26-year-old Buster Murdaugh, could collect a $10 million life insurance policy. The alleged Sept. 4 shooting happened days after Hampton-based law firm PMPED asked for Alex Murdaugh’s resignation, alleging he misappropriated at least $1 million in funds from the practice founded by his great-grandfather.
Murdaugh told law enforcement that he paid Curtis “Eddie” Smith, his former legal client and alleged drug dealer, to shoot him on a rural road, but Smith supposedly missed, only grazing him in the head. Smith’s lawyer, Jarrett Bouchette, recently told The State, a newspaper based in Columbia, South Carolina, that his client was used as the “fall guy” and was unaware of Murdaugh’s scheme.
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