Amid discussions to expel him from office, South Carolina State Representative Chris Corley formally resigned from his post on January 24th. Corley was charged with physically assaulting and pointing a firearm at his wife. The incident occurred at the couple's Graniteville home one day after Christmas, in front of two of their children, ages 2 and 8. They may be heard crying “Just stop daddy,” repeatedly in the background of a 911 call.
According to the incident report, Corley continued to beat his wife until taking note of her bleeding and the children's screams. She had allegedly tried to punch him after accusing him of infidelity. No one spoke to the operator directly in the initial 911 call; only pleas to stop could be heard, at which point the operator contacted Aiken County 911. A later 911 call from Corley's mother-in-law asked for deputies to be sent to the house, where she was aware Corley was threatening to kill himself. Corley went to the bedroom after the threat, at which point his wife ran to the street with the children, taking them to her mother's home.
The incident comes after recent legislation in the state strengthening punishments for domestic violence, which Corley voted for. The former legislator's bond was set at $20,000; he was ordered by the judge not to contact his wife.
Corley's reelection to the House last year was unopposed. His legislative resume upholds a staunch right-wing bent. He supported a law granting reciprocity to Georgia gun owners, as well as a failed effort to grant reciprocity to concealed weapons permits originating from any states. He introduced legislation requiring drug testing for SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) recipients and limiting benefits for able-bodied adults. He has also served on the Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Environmental Affairs committees. Prior to public service, Corley was the youngest registered lobbyist in Washington, D.C.
Corley and South Carolina governor Nikki Haley are vocal critics of one another, with one biting social media showdown last March. Haley called for “anyone” to run against Corley in the primaries.
A 2014 interview with the Aiken Standard quoted him saying “The domestic violence issue in South Carolina, I don't know if that's something government can completely fix. As far as what we can do as the government, you know, stiffer mandatory penalties. I don't know that saying you can't have a gun because you get convicted of domestic violence, I don't know if that's going to stop someone from future domestic violence."
Corley is known in the House for his unwavering support of the Confederate flag. The flag was removed from statehouse grounds following the Charleston church shooting. Corley suggested the removal warranted a replacement with the white flag of surrender, calling it the new “unofficial flag of the South Carolina Republican Party," in what could be called a facetious political move.
The former representative faces one count of domestic violence of a high and aggravated nature and one count pointing and presenting a firearm. The charges could net 10 - 25 years in prison for Corley; prosecutors may pursue harsher penalties because the abuse occurred in front of children.
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