State Rep. Peter McCoy collected $10,000 from donors associated with New York libertarian and school voucher advocate Howard Rich in the final days before his bid to unseat Democratic incumbent Anne Peterson Hutto.
The contributions came during the "blackout period," the time in which a candidate may accept money without reporting it before the election.
McCoy reported the donations on his disclosure form filed earlier this month.
Hutto's campaign manager, Lachlan McIntosh, noted the $10,000 from Rich marked the difference in the two candidates' fundraising and could have influenced the outcome of the closely fought race, which McCoy won by a 47-43 margin.
"Peter McCoy cut a midnight deal with an out-of-state extremist who is intent on destroying our public schools," McIntosh said. "By purposely taking the money during the blackout period, he hid his actions from the voters so he couldn't be held accountable on Election Day. He's already broken the trust with the people he represents."
McCoy said Tuesday his campaign got "tremendous" donations toward the end of the race from individuals and businesses who supported his conservative platform.
"Some of these businesses believe, as I do and that I campaigned on from day one, that each child has his-her own best-learning environment and best-learning methods and, based on those, parents should have a choice as to where their children attend school," he said in a statement. "These businesses have given several times across the state to legislators and challenger candidates who share such ideas."
Hutto said Tuesday she already has congratulated McCoy on his win but said McCoy should have disclosed Rich's donations to the voters before Election Day, "given that public schools are so important on James Island and Folly Beach."
McCoy outspent Hutto $109,758 to $100,660.
Rich has a long history of lavishly supporting mostly Republican candidates in South Carolina. During the past election, he also gave at least $9,000 to GOP hopeful Lee Edwards, who lost his District 119 race to incumbent Democratic Rep. Leon Stavrinakis.