Southern Charm's Thomas Ravenel: Inside His Political Rise and Fall
Thomas Ravenel stands accused of sexual assault
Southern Charm star Thomas Ravenel stands accused of sexual assault, but even before the allegation surfaced, he faced controversy from his short-lived political career as state treasurer of South Carolina — and an entirely different set of legal troubles.
Here’s everything you need to know about his political drama. (As for the sexual assault allegation, “My client enjoys a certain degree of fame and unfortunately has become – unfairly – a target for an individual who has, in my opinion, dubious motivations,” Ravenel’s attorney, Richard P. Terbrusch, told PEOPLE in a statement.)
1. He ran for U.S. Senate in 2004, lost, and got fined $19,500 in the process.
Ravenel, now 55, came in third in the Republican primary race for Fritz Hollings’ vacant seat. He was later fined $19,500 by the Federal Election Commission for improperly filing reports for the failed bid, the Associated Press reported at the time.
2. He resigned from his post as state treasurer in 2007 after being indicted on a federal cocaine distribution charges.
Ravenel served as South Carolina’s treasurer for just five months before he was indicted by a federal grand jury in June 2007 on a charge of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute less than 500 grams of cocaine.
After learning of the charges, South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford immediately suspended Ravenel and appointed an interim replacement. Ravenel resigned as state treasurer one month later, in July.
After a 30-day rehab stint in Arizona, he returned in September 2007 and pleaded guilty to “conspiring to buy and distribute less than 100 grams of cocaine.” In March 2008, he was sentenced to 10 months in federal prison.
3. He campaigned for U.S. Senate in 2014.
While on Southern Charm, Ravenel ran as an independent candidate against incumbent Lindsey Graham. The reality star finished in third place, earning just 3.9 percent of the vote.
4. He supported President Donald Trump in the 2016 election.
Ravenel endorsed Trump for president in an October 2016 Facebook post, writing: “I can’t vote in the Presidential race because of my conviction but you can. If you want to put back into The White House someone who looted it when she left and increased her net worth from $0 to $ 350 million by selling out our national security then vote for the great con artist Hillary. If you believe that our Country should be great and provide equality and opportunity to ALL its citizens then you must vote for Trump.”
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(Though he said he couldn’t cast his ballot because of his drug conviction, ABC affiliate WCIV Charleston confirmed that Ravenel was, in fact, registered to vote in Charleston County at the time.)
Ravenel spoke approvingly of Trump in other Facebook posts, including one shortly after the election in which he said Trump deserved “a lot of credit” for being “a winner.”
5. He has shared his political musings on immigration and the ‘war on drugs.’
Ravenel wrote an op-ed for FitsNews, a South Carolina-based website owned by his former campaign consultant Will Folks. In the essay, Ravenel attributed “the current borders crossings by Mexican youth” to the U.S.’s “disastrous ‘War on Drugs,’ ” which he wrote “puts $300 billion per year into the hands of the most violent criminals on the face of the earth.”
“The effects of our disastrous drug policy are now spilling over onto U.S. soil. Drugs are bad,” he added, “but as we learned in the aftermath of the only constitutional amendment ever repealed, prohibition is worse.”
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Though The Inquisitr‘s Amy Feinstein found it ironic that Ravenel would reference drugs given his 2007 conviction, Ravenel seems to be at ease with his past struggle with cocaine.
So at ease, in fact, that he once joked about it on an episode of Southern Charm.
“I don’t have a problem with cocaine,” he said. “I just really like the way it smells.”