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Signs have state GOP taking calls, scratching heads

Signs such as this one in Columbia have popped up around the capital and around the state. South Carolina Republican Party representatives say they don't know who planted them.
Signs such as this one in Columbia have popped up around the capital and around the state. South Carolina Republican Party representatives say they don't know who planted them.

Do you support amnesty for illegal immigrants? If so, don't call the S.C. Republican Party.

Unfortunately for party officials, the phone has been ringing since anonymous signs have popped up around Columbia and other metropolitan areas.

There are two versions of the signs, which measure about 2 feet by 2 feet. One says, "Amnesty for illegal workers/vote Republican." The other has the same message about workers but instead of saying, "vote Republican," it gives a phone number that turns out to be for the state GOP headquarters in Columbia.

But the Republican Party has nothing to do with the signs, said state party chairman Katon Dawson.

Dawson said about 100 of the signs have been picked up. Since many are planted in rights of way, he figures the state Highway Department will remove the others.

Whoever is responsible, Dawson said, knows that signs are a cheap way to gain attention. People talk about them, and media will report about them.

"Someone is just trying to throw the question mark up, and that's a cheap way to get (the media's) attention," Dawson said. "It's a $500 way to get themselves a $20,000 article."

By comparison, a television advertisement that runs statewide can cost up to $500,000.

And just to be clear, Dawson said, the state party's platform specifically opposes amnesty for illegal immigrants.

So who is responsible?

Dawson said he has no idea.

Joe Werner, executive director of the S.C. Democratic Party, said he's seen the signs, but the party had nothing to do with them.

Dawson figures a presidential campaign could have put the signs, aiming for a dig at John McCain, who supported a controversial immigration plan some critics called amnesty. The campaigns of Mitt Romney and Rudy Giuliani denied posting the signs.

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