Influential South Carolina political consultant and newspaper owner Rod Shealy died this afternoon at the Medical University of South Carolina, according to his sister Lorri Unumb. He was 56 years old.
Shealy died of bleeding on the brain, Unumb said, possibly related to the brain cancer he was diagnosed with in 2008. Unumb said Shealy had fallen and broken his hip over the weekend, but was optimistic the cancer treatments at MUSC were working.
Shealy specialized in advising long-shot candidates to victory, such as longtime friend and client Lt. Gov Andre Bauer. Shealy a protégé of Lee Atwater -- also had a penchant for pushing the limits of campaign law in search of an advantage.
The Irmo resident pled guilty in 1992 for failing to report a campaign contribution after he was accused of hiring a black fisherman to run for office to help drive Lowcountry turnout for his sisters bid for Lt. Governor.
Unumb has a son with autism, and said Shealy helped her draft and find legislative support for a bill requiring autism insurance coverage that is now law. A big Jimmy Buffet fan, Shealy was instantly recognized by the Hawaiian shirts he wore.