State & Nation

Helping Vets and Families on Route for the Brave

Three men from the Helping Hands for Freedom charity recently completed the Route for the Brave, a 3,091 walk across America.

Staff Sgt. (ret.) Patrick Shannon, a two time Purple Heart recipient and Bronze Star recipient, David Roth, a 20-plus yr. vet of the Indianapolis Metro Police Department and Kevin Winton, a 20-year math teacher in Indiana, were the participants. They walked from Atlantic City, NJ to San Francisco, CA in four months.

Planning for the walk began as an idea from Roth three years ago. Roth saw his stepson go through multiple deployments with the Navy and the adjustment process, especially with the kids, that those deployments caused.

The purpose of the walk was to raise awareness for Gold Star families and to raise funds for the construction of a House of Healing and PTSD Center for military families.

During the walk, the Shannon, Roth and Winton attended 150 events, held along the way, to help with the fundraising.

“All the people we met and seeing the country from the ground up at a slow pace gave us a new appreciation of the diversity and strength of average Americans,” said Shannon.

Helping Hands for Freedom was created in 2008 by Shannon and his friend Rod Smith. While recovering at Walter Reed Army Hospital from injuries suffered in Iraq, Shannon would go bedside to bedside talking to fellow soldiers about their concerns. The one constant that came up was the family.

“In recent years, we, as a country, have been more aware of the sacrifices made by our troops,” Shannon said. “However, the families of those service members, who must make adjustments and sacrifices also, are often forgotten.”

The Select Committee's #BenghaziReport

Select Committee on Benghazi Releases Damning Report

Washington, D.C. – Select Committee on Benghazi Chairman Trey Gowdy (SC-04) released the following statement after the committee’s Majority released a mark of its investigative report:

“Chris Stevens, Sean Smith, Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods were heroes who gave their lives in service to our country. Their bravery and the courageous actions of so many others on the ground that night should be honored.

“When the Select Committee was formed, I promised to conduct this investigation in a manner worthy of the American people’s respect, and worthy of the memory of those who died. That is exactly what my colleagues and I have done.

“Now, I simply ask the American people to read this report for themselves, look at the evidence we have collected, and reach their own conclusions. You can read this report in less time than our fellow citizens were taking fire and fighting for their lives on the rooftops and in the streets of Benghazi.”

The committee’s proposed report is just over 800 pages long and is comprised of five primary sections and 12 appendices. It details relevant events in 2011 and 2012.

Rep. Mike Pompeo (KS-04) released the following statement regarding these findings:

“We expect our government to make every effort to save the lives of Americans who serve in harm’s way. That did not happen in Benghazi. Politics were put ahead of the lives of Americans, and while the administration had made excuses and blamed the challenges posed by time and distance, the truth is that they did not try.”

Rep. Martha Roby (AL-02) released the following statement regarding these findings:

“Our committee’s insistence on additional information about the military’s response to the Benghazi attacks was met with strong opposition from the Defense Department, and now we know why. Instead of attempting to hide deficiencies in our posture and performance, it’s my hope our report will help ensure we fix what went wrong so that a tragedy like this never happens again

Press Release: American Execs Tried To Cut Off Al Qaeda Funding Pre 9/11

The news media is filled with reports that the “Saudi kingdom’s involvement was deliberately covered up at the highest levels of our government. And the cover-up goes beyond locking up 28 pages of the Saudi report in a vault in the US Capitol basement. Investigations were throttled. Co-conspirators were let off the hook.” Fox News, Huffington Post, Miami Herald, New York Post, Sarasota Herald-Tribune.

Beyond the contents of the 9/11 report allegedly implicating Saudi involvement in the funding of al Qaeda, is the documented information on how the United States Justice Department’s vaunted NCIC system was used in the attempted murder of United States business executives who were unwittingly shutting off Saudi funding to al Qaeda. For the past fifteen years, the surviving business executives have spent their lives to get to the truth of why they were targeted and why the United States Justice Department was actively involved in protecting the perpetrators.

During the fifteen years, they have uncovered links and concrete irrefutable documentation of the involvement of an Assistant Director of the FBI, the office of United States Senator Lindsey Graham, the United States Justice Department, the head of the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED) and a Director in the Office of Homeland Security. The internal documents from the individuals and/or the agencies involved detail how these individuals’ lives were destroyed by illegal actions of the government under the guise of National Security to keep the secret of the Saudi financial involvement in 9/11 from the American public.

Millions of dollars of government funds were used and are still being used to stop this action from reaching a truly independent review in Federal District Court. The local political and geopolitical interest supersedes the rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution because of the perceived impact of exposing documentation of both our governments’ actions against the public to protect Saudi interests tied to the funding of the attack on the United States on September 11, 2001 and the Saudis funding 9/11.

IRS Story Unravels; Liberty Lost

IRS Story Unravels; Liberty Lost

The initial story from the IRS regarding alleged targeting of conservative groups has fallen apart. These actions go well beyond one or several low level employees acting on their own.

According to a report from the IRS Inspector General’s office, senior officials at the IRS knew about the targeting of conservative groups for over a year without doing anything about it.

Every new revelation makes this whole caper seem more and more politically motivated regardless of what the Obama administration says.

Yesterday we heard that at least one organization in South Carolina, the Laurens County Tea Party, was one of the many organizations having problems with the IRS. The group applied for tax-exempt status in 2010 and still has received no answer.

Yesterday we also heard that the Justice Department had begun an investigation into the actions of the IRS. This would be the same Justice Department that performed warrantless searches on the phone records of several reporters at the Associated Press.

If government officials don’t respect the laws of the United States and the provisions of the Constitution, who will?

SC data breach ‘about the worst you can get’

Hackers could have in their possession taxpayer information from the S.C. Department of Revenue that would allow crooks to take over bank accounts, file for bogus tax refunds or get fraudulent loans, national data security experts said Monday.

“This is about the worst you can get,” said Avivah Litan, an ID theft analyst with the information technology research group Gartner. Added Rick Holland, an analyst with Forrester Research, “If I were a resident of South Carolina, I would be pretty concerned.”

S.C. leaders are trying to resolve a cyber attack affecting four times as many people as all previous S.C. data breaches in the past seven years.

Mark Sanford’s Lonely Battle for Austerity: Did It Lead Him to the Appalachian Trail?

Mark Sanford’s Lonely Battle for Austerity

My new book about President Obama and his stimulus, The New New Deal, unspools the politically shrewd but remarkably cynical GOP strategy to obstruct the President.

Congressional Republicans who supported stimulus in 2008 and even voted for a $715 billion stimulus in 2009 somehow pegged Obama’s similar $787 stimulus as the death of capitalism, although they still pursued stimulus cash for their districts.

GOP governors who denounced the stimulus as fiscal lunacy quietly used its aid to states to balance their hemorrhaging budgets. But there is at least one principled Republican politician in the book: Mark Sanford…

Governor Nikki Haley’s EthicsReforms – Style Trumps Substance

Haley’s Ethics – Style Trumps Substance

Gov. Nikki Haley’s run around the state this week promoting ethics reform was a perfect example of disingenuous political posturing.

Haley must be given credit for several things. She knows how to define the message and present herself in the best possible political light. After this week’s demonstration, one could almost think Haley supports real ethics reform.

Nothing could be further from the truth. She supposedly supports transparency in government while her administration continuously refuses to follow the guidelines of the state’s weak freedom of information act.

Treasurer Curtis Loftis Delivers Cash Money

Treasurer Curtis Loftis Delivers Cash Money

The South Carolina Office of State Treasurer returned $12.6 million to people during fiscal year 2011 and with one month down already for fiscal year 2013, the office is hard at work finding the owners of unclaimed millions.

The $300 million in unclaimed property typically is in the form of old, unclaimed tax refund checks, inheritances, deposits, insurance payments and bank accounts.

State Treasurer Curtis Loftis Jr., is on a mission to find the owners of that money and occasionally takes his show, the Palmetto Payback Hometown Tour, on the road, such as Tuesday’s stop at Bazen’s Family Restaurant.

“We’ve got a lot of money that belongs here,” Loftis said. “We’ve been doing this for a long time, the treasurer’s office has, but we built up a reserve of $300 million and if we’re going to give that money back to its rightful owners, I’ve got to get out and hit the streets.”

S.C. Budget and Control Board

S.C. Budget and Control Board Ignored Law?

A USC chemistry professor has sued some of the state’s most powerful politicians, asking the courts to put to rest a lingering question in state government: Who is in charge?

Thomas A. Bryson, director of graduate studies for USC’s chemistry and biochemistry department, filed a class-action lawsuit in Richland County on behalf of all state employees, challenging the State Budget and Control Board’s 3-2 decision last week to make state workers pay more for their health insurance, starting next year.

The budget board’s move, proposed by Gov. Nikki Haley and praised by some taxpayer groups, would save the state $5.8 million but cost the average state worker or retiree an extra $7.24 a month.

State Farmers Market Purchase on Hold

State Farmers Market Purchase on Hold

Expansion of public ownership in the State Farmers Market in Lexington was avoided this year when House members of the budget conference committee would not agree to the $13 million the Senate wanted to appropriate.

S.C. Agriculture Commissioner Hugh Weathers asked the General Assembly to appropriate nearly $17 million in this year’s budget to purchase the property. It is owned by Columbia developer Bill Stern who also serves as the chairman of the State Ports Authority.

According to Weathers, the $17 million amount was based on an appraisal provided by Stern. The Senate agreed but the House balked. The Senate came down to the $13 million amount in conference, but the House still wouldn’t agree.