Wilson, Anastopoulo vie for SC Attorney General’s office
FLORENCE, S.C. – In his bid for re-election, South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson, a Republican, faces Constance Anastopoulo, a Democrat, in the Nov. 6 general election.
Wilson, whose mother is a Florence native, was born in Texas but returned east to Fort Bragg, North Carolina, with his father and mother. His mother met his father while she attended Columbia College and he was stationed at Fort Jackson. His father was killed in a helicopter crash and Wilson returned with his mother to the Columbia area.
There, his mother met and married Congressman Joe Wilson when Alan Wilson was 4 years old. Joe has represented South Carolina’s Second Congressional District since 2001.
Alan Wilson attended schools in Lexington County before attending and graduating from Francis Marion University.
He enrolled at the University of South Carolina School of Law in 1999. Before to enrolling in law school, Wilson served as an intern in the victim services division of the attorney general’s office. He graduated from the school in 2002. Wilson served as a prosecutor in the 11th Judicial Circuit of South Carolina, which includes Lexington, Saluda, Edgefield and McCormick counties. Next, Wilson served as a prosecutor in the attorney general’s office before going to private practice for two years. He first ran for attorney general in 2010.
Anastapoulo was born in Roanoke, Virginia, to parents who immigrated from Greece. Anastapoulo attended and graduated from the University of Virginia. Before attending the University of North Carolina School of Law, she worked at a Wall Street brokerage firm for 4½ years. After UNC law, Anastapoulo received a grant from the V. Smith Reynolds Foundation to work with women in prisons through a nonprofit organization in North Carolina. She held that position for almost a year.
“My work with women in prison really informed the kind of lawyer I became,” Anastopoulo said. “What I learned work with women in that environment is that not everybody has a voice. Not everyone has someone to speak for them. I really decided when I finished that program was I wanted to be a lawyer that stood up for people.”
In 1993, she went to work for her husband, Akim Anastopoulo, and his law firm. His firm is known throughout the state for television commercials featuring the line, “Don’t scream, call Akim.”
The Anastopoulos met in Constance’s last year of law school on a blind date. She worked at the Anastopoulo Law Firm in the litigation division until she was hired full time by the Charleston School of Law. At the Charleston School of Law, Anastopoulo teaches ethics, torts, insurance and litigation classes. She said she has served as a tenured professor at the Charleston School of Law for approximately 10 years.
Anastopoulo is the first woman to run for attorney general in South Carolina.
The office of attorney general was created by the South Carolina Constitution. The attorney general is charged with being the chief prosecutor of the state and assisting the governor in ensuring that the laws of the state are faithfully executed.
Wilson has served as South Carolina’s 51st attorney general since 2011. Wilson was elected to the position in 2010 over Democrat Matthew Richardson. Wilson received 53.74 percent of the vote. In 2014, Wilson was re-elected over Democrat Parnell Diggs with a total of 60.26 percent of the vote.
The attorney general’s office receives a salary of $92,007 per year.
The first issue Wilson discussed was keeping the office on the cutting edge of technology. He said that in several cases the attorney general’s office was going up against some of the biggest law firms in the world, and he does not want a significant difference of technology to exist between the firms and the office.
Wilson also mentioned his office’s assistance in the reformation of South Carolina’s domestic violence and human trafficking laws. He said he also has helped to grow the state’s internet crimes against children task force. The state, he added, has prosecuted approximately 1,000 people accused of internet crimes against children.
He said his office has been involved in opioid litigation that would help the state prevent the cost of the opioid epidemic from being passed on to the public. Wilson said the office needs additional prosecutorial support. He said he wants to broaden the public integrity efforts of the office. The state, he added, was heavily involved in a lawsuit against SC E&G and other efforts in the failure of the V.C. Sumner nuclear project.
Anastopoulo first discussed what she describes as the culture of corruption in Columbia. She said that as an ethics professor, she believes in the rule of law and that the state deserves someone who would go to Columbia for the right reasons and clean up the corruption. She added that she is going to propose a triple-check review for potential conflict of interest.
Next, she discussed transparency. She said she had sent a Freedom of Information Act request to the attorney general’s office when she entered the race and still has not received the information. She also asked what the nonlawyers at the office were doing.
She said she had sued a pharmaceutical company on behalf of 600 plaintiffs and won a verdict against the company.
Anastopoulo said she also is opposed to offshore oil drilling. She asked what would have happened if Hurricane Florence had hit South Carolina with drilling going on offshore.
She also said she is in favor of term limits. She said she plans to serve one, maybe two, terms before returning to her family in Charleston.