By Paul Gable and Jeffrey Sewell
“Whenever we hear SLED and FBI used in the same sentence, we can’t help but think of the Southern Holdings case.”
The best aspect of blogging is the opportunity to encourage an ongoing dialogue about issues, especially as they apply to the political arena.
Our recent post on internet sweepstakes cafes drew an interesting response that we believe deserves an answer.
The comment read: “This is the most obsurd (sic) thing I have ever read. SLED and the FBI will certainly solve this problem for you Mr. Sewell and Mr. Gable. They have done the research and they know who is involved and this is a very poor attempt at making this political. This Internet Sweepstakes Case has nothing to do with a political campaign. I would be careful at how I approach this or you will drag yourself into a place that you cannot get out of.”
Any slight investigation into the workings of internet sweepstakes cafes would draw a quick conclusion that they are not gambling. In fact, the software for them is specifically written to take away any chance to have them labeled as video poker or the like.
That doesn’t stop law enforcement from labeling them as such and going forward with arrests and charges.
The specific reference to SLED and the FBI solving this problem is more bothersome. These are two of the most political agencies in the entire country. Who can forget J. Edgar Hoover, when he wasn’t wearing dresses, conducting supposed Communist witch hunts for over 50 years?
Who can forget Mark Keel, at the direction of the S.C. Budget and Control Board, taking possession of key evidence in the Southern Holdings case when it was already under judicial order to be returned to the plaintiffs?
Whenever we hear SLED and FBI used in the same sentence, we can’t help but think of the Southern Holdings case. The case had the potential to cost the state of South Carolina tens of millions of dollars in a settlement that would have been paid by the state insurance fund overseen by the Budget and Control Board.
This would be the same case in which a report of illegal police actions was made to the FBI. Rather than forward those allegations to FBI headquarters in Washington, D.C., as required by FBI regulations, the agent gave the information to SLED, again totally against FBI regulations.
Why was that done? We’re not sure, but it probably had something to do with the FBI agent retiring three months later and being immediately hired to be head of security for the S.C. lottery.
We won’t go into the other areas of evidence mishandling in the case by these two agencies because it is not germane to internet cafes. It is germane, however, to the willingness of these two agencies being totally politically oriented, often at the expense of actual law enforcement.
The current arrests of internet café operators most definitely have political overtones. They are as much about attempting to smear Sen. Jake Knotts and help his petition candidate opponent Katrina Shealy than about any perceived form of law enforcement action.
Drag ourselves into a place we can’t get out of? We’d be very happy to have our questions about the Southern Holdings case answered by SLED and the FBI. Somehow, however, we don’t believe that will happen. There is no statute of limitations on criminal acts in South Carolina.