It's been almost a week since mystery man Alvin Greene inexplicably won South Carolina's Democratic senate primary and yet he is still largely a mystery. We spoke to one of Greene's former Army colleagues for some insight into the guy.
When Greene, a 32-year-old unemployed veteran with a pending felony obscenity charge, defeated a former judge and legislator, the media and political establishment were immediately suspicious. Since then, allegations of voter fraud—or GOP skullduggery—have dogged his campaign. (Yesterday, Greene's former opponent filed a formal protest over the results.) And some of even questioned Greene's mental state.
Having held no previous political office, Greene's most relevant professional experience is his 13-year stint as a supply and intelligence specialist in the Army and Air Force. In 2008, Greene was transferred from Korea and was stationed for six months with the Army's 1st Infantry Division in the United States. One of his colleagues during that time reached out to us yesterday. We chatted with him via email about Greene's lackluster service, his sparse social life, and why he doesn't think Greene is a Republican plant. (Note: We've concealed his identity as he's still serving in the Army and is not authorized to speak about Greene.)
Could you tell me a bit about your time working with Greene?
During the first couple of weeks of working with him, myself and most everyone else noticed that he wasn't all there mentally. Whenever he was given a simple task such as filling a temporary hand receipt it would never get done, mainly because he didn't know how to fill one out. And this is the most fundamental part of the job.
He also didn't show much interest in being a soldier. For instance, he was asked to do maintenance on the M249. This system is a little more complex than the regular service rifle. When it came to Greene's turn he was able to take the weapon apart but didn't know where to start when it came to put it back together. He showed no interest in learning and would mumble under his breath about not wanting to do it. So after a couple of months of trying and not getting anywhere, people just made sure he was where he was supposed to be and in the correct uniform. He would just basically come to work and stare at the wall till it was time for lunch and then do the same till it was time to go home for the day. The platoon sergeant tried to get him to go see a doctor for help but he would never seek help.
Greene is facing a felony obscenity charge for allegedly showing porn to a college student. Does this seem like something he would have done?
Greene really kept to himself. I never heard of him harassing female soldiers. However, when he left Korea he was a Private First Class (E-3), and when he came to our unit he was wearing Specialist rank (E-4). We didn't find out that he was just a PFC till after one of the Senior NCOs in the unit checked his enlisted record brief and found that he was wearing the incorrect rank. We asked him what was going on and he just evaded the questions and said it was a long story. A misunderstanding. Supposedly he has a UCMJ [Uniform Code of Military Justice] action against him from Korea, for what I don't know exactly.
There have also been questions about his mental state, and whether he is mentally fit to serve. Frankly, judging from his interviews he doesn't seem to be all there.
What you see in his interviews is what we had to deal with. People have been saying he acts that way because he is nervous, but it's not true. He has a difficult time communicating and really doesn't enjoy people asking him personal questions. I noticed when he mumbles incoherently it means he is agitated.
But I think he is a smart person. I asked him why he didn't go to Officers Candidate School since he has a bachelors degree [from the University of South Carolina] and he answered, "Why would I do that since that would require more work?" After he said that I realized what he was doing. He was being very lazy and working the system to get by. Even though it's obvious that he suffers from some kind of mental illness, I have worked with people that suffer from alcoholism to bipolarism and they would put more effort into what they did during their day to day life then he ever did.
There's been a lot of speculation about where he got the $10,400 filing fee necessary to run for Senate. He says he saved up from the Army. Do you think that's possible?
I think that was very possible. Greene didn't do anything during his personal time, and ate at the post dining facility religiously. The first time I saw his room all he had was a radio and a couple sets of clothes, which is not unusual for someone that just moved to a new post. But after 5 months all he had was just a radio and a couple sets of clothes still. Considering his lifestyle and coming back from Korea I believe he could have saved over $10,400, and spent it on putting himself on the ballot.
Greene has been very vague as to why he left the army. He says it was an honorable but "involuntary" discharge. Do you know the circumstances behind his discharge?
I really can't say what the circumstances were under which he was discharged, but I think it might have been failure to adapt. [Greene was transferred to a different brigade before being discharged last year.]
Can you shed any light on Greene's political beliefs?
The only time he would talk to me was when I would ask him about his views on politics. He would open up and actually talk. He would talk about how the country is going in the wrong direction and how Obama needed to get elected to fix the country's problems. But the only person he talked about was the President, only because of how much media he was getting at the time of the elections.
Why do you think Greene is running for Senate?
I guess he had nothing better to do. I don't think he was put up to this. I think he just did it to do it.