CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – One day after News 2 obtained audio of a South Carolina Representative making controversial comments during a call with an inmate at a Greenville correctional facility, Krystle Matthews is defending her actions.
Matthews said that she did not know she was speaking with an inmate.
According to Matthews, she received a call from a woman she knew to be a political activist who wanted to introduce her to someone. The woman, who Matthews did not name, had already started the call with the inmate, identified as David Solomon Ballard. According to the South Carolina Department of Corrections, Matthews was patched into the call around seven minutes in.
During the call, Matthews suggested illegal activities such as using “dope” money to fund campaigns and having “secret sleepers” steal opponents’ campaign signs in the middle of the night.
“Where the f—- are my black people with money? I don’t care about no dope money, give me that dope boy money. S—, where the f—, where’s the duffle bag boys? Get you, find you somebody in your family that doesn’t even know you’re donating to my campaign, and put that s— under their name. Like, what the f—,” Matthews can be heard saying in the call.
When asked about encouraging illegal activity, Matthews said that is not what she was doing and that the conversation was not taken in context.
“I’m not encouraging illegal activity,” Matthews said. “When you’re in private, for me, as a Black woman in our society, we talk trash… So it wasn’t like, you know, I’m not encouraging people to do those things, but the context was left out of the conversation.”
Matthews explained that some of the concepts she brought up in the call are actually quite common in politics, but she is now facing criticism for talking about them.
“Let’s not act like this is new stuff. Everything I said is something I talked about on my campaign trail. It’s the tone, and the way I said it, I think that caught people so off guard.”
Regarding her statements about using “dope” money for her campaign, Matthews implied that she did not have any “dope” money, but called out what she views as a double standard in campaign financing.
“A drug is a drug is a drug. Tim Scott has accepted over $200,000 in pharmaceutical money … What we see is that, when its one of the drugs in the upper echelon, it’s legal and nobody cares about when they use that money. But when it comes to the Black community, we talk about crack, cocaine, and heroin, it’s like ‘oh, those are illegal.’ It’s like hush.”
While Matthews acknowledged that she regrets the call because “everything is not palatable for everyone,” she said that she is happy the controversy brought attention to what she feels has been an overlooked race, and is giving her a platform to remind voters what she stands for.
“I’m not gonna bite my tongue, Carolyn, because people want me to come in a perfect box,” she told News 2’s Carolyn Murray. “I have not done anything illegal. Judge me by my works.”
Matthews said that she hopes people will stop getting caught up on what she calls the little things and focus on addressing real change, which she said she has done for four years at the state house and hopes to do if elected to the United States Senate.
“I have a strong back. No matter how much they keep throwing at me, I’m gonna keep showing up for working families here in South Carolina.”