Thursday, July 29, 2004

If You're Going to Fight With Those Things, You Better Use Some Protective Headgear

Another Republican in trouble:

South Carolina's agriculture commissioner was arrested Thursday on charges of taking at least $20,000 in payoffs to protect a cockfighting ring from the law.

Charles Sharpe, 65, was indicted on federal charges including extortion and money laundering. He was accused of accepting the money from an organization involved in breeding and raising birds for cockfighting in exchange for helping the group avoid legal trouble. Cockfighting is illegal in South Carolina.

Sharpe, a Republican, served in the state House from 1985 until 2002 and was chairman of the Agriculture Committee. In 2002, he was elected agriculture commissioner.


Wayne Pacelle, president of the Humane Society of the United States, called cockfighting barbaric and demanded Sharpe resign immediately.

``In exchange for thousands of dollars, he has allegedly used his connections and his stature not only to enrich himself, but also to provide protection for an organized criminal network of cockfighters,'' Pacelle said.