CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) — A former South Carolina Republican congressional candidate is accused of stealing horses in rural Kentucky earlier this month, but he contends he was actually rescuing the horses.
Charleston media outlets report that Curtis Bostic, 55, was arrested Dec. 18 near Jackson, Kentucky, and charged with felony unlawful taking of livestock. He was released on $2,500 bail the next day.
The former Charleston County councilman said Tuesday he was in the Appalachian foothills on a "humanitarian horse-rescue effort." He didn't go into details on the pending case.
A court date is set for Jan. 23.
But his son, Daniel Bostic, posted on Twitter that the horses were starving.
"Crazy that we live in a country where you can be arrested for rescuing a starving animal," he said in the post.
In his mugshot, Bostic is wearing a campaign T-shirt from his 2013 unsuccessful bid for Congress, when he lost the GOP primary runoff to former Gov. Mark Sanford. Bostic, an attorney, served on county council for eight years until 2009.
The Marine veteran owns Peaceful Way , a 35-acre farm in Ravenel that offers activities including horseback riding.
Ginny Grulke, director of the nonprofit Appalachian Horse Center, said that it's common practice in mountainous Kentucky to let horses roam free to graze. But the Great Recession brought problems, as some owners stopped delivering hay during winter months. While most of the horses remain well fed, some struggle to find nourishment, she told The Post and Courier of Charleston.
It can be difficult to tell which horses have owners, which are abandoned and which were born wild, but locals usually know, she said.
Those trying to find better homes for the horses are supposed to notify the local sheriff, get a veterinary checkup and give any owner 15 days to claim them, she said.
"If you don't do that, you're officially stealing a horse," said Grulke, who said she knew of Bostic's arrest but had no direct involvement with the case.