Former S.C. Treasurer Faces D.W.I. Charge

Thomas Ravenel was arrested early this morning by East Hampton Village police
Thomas Ravenel East Hampton Village Police Department

     Thomas Ravenel, a former South Carolina state treasurer who has reportedly been contemplating a return to political life after serving seven months on federal drug charges, was arrested early Monday morning by East Hampton Village police and charged with drunken driving.

     “He’s playing polo. He’s part of the Southampton Polo team,” Trevor M. Darrell, a local attorney who acted as Mr. Ravenel’s lawyer during his arraignment in East Hampton Town Justice Court this morning, said to Justice Catherine A. Cahill. Mr. Ravenel, who was pulled over at Montauk Highway and Stephen Hand’s Path at 2:30 this morning, was said to be swerving across lane lines and driving on the shoulder of the road, leading to the traffic stop. Once at the police station, he refused to consent to a breath test.

     “I’m a real estate developer,” he told the justice, when she asked him what he did for a living.

     “Does he have any priors,” the justice asked Mr. Darrell.

     “He has one prior in South Carolina. It was a federal matter,” Mr. Darrell answered. The justice and Mr. Darrell then went into conference at the bench, talking quietly for about five minutes, with neither mentioning the federal case after their conference ended.

     Mr. Ravenel, who told the justice he is 50, was elected as South Carolina’s state treasurer in 2006, but was forced to resign from office in 2007 and subsequently served time in federal prison on a cocaine possession charge. According to an Associated Press report from 2009, Mr. Ravenel was accused by the federal government of being part of a cocaine distribution ring. Mr. Ravenel, who owns the Ravenel Development Corporation, has a plantation in Lowcountry, S.C.

     His father, Arthur Ravenel Jr., was a longtime member of the House of Representatives from South Carolina.

     He has recently been rehabilitating his political career, according to multiple reports, doing a reality TV show for the Bravo network, with an eye on a return to politics, possibly even challenging Lindsay Graham in the Republican senate primary next year.

     The justice initially set bail at $750, cash, but Mr. Ravenel told her he could only access $600 with his debit card, adding that he also had $65 in his wallet.

     “Okay. $650,” Justice Cahill said.

     Mr. Ravenel is due is due back in East Hampton Town Court on Aug. 8.