Tag: Campaign Donations

Politicians for Sale?

Attempting to keep political decisions free from outside influence has been a problem virtually since the beginning of the American Republic.
During a recent county council meeting, a woman told council members she was involved in a group that was studying campaign donors and votes on projects the donors were involved with in order to see if any council members were apparently giving preferential treatment to their donors.
But the question of influence is not restricted to campaign donations.
SC Code 8-13-700 states:
(A) No public official, public member, or public employee may knowingly use his official office, membership, or employment to obtain an economic interest for himself, a family member, an individual with whom he is associated, or a business with which he is associated.
(B) No public official, public member, or public employee may make, participate in making, or in any way attempt to use his office, membership, or employment to influence a governmental decision in which he, a family member, an individual with whom he is associated, or a business with which he is associated has an economic interest.
A politician who is a principal in a political consulting business that accepts consulting fees from a candidate then endorses or arranges endorsements from other politicians can appear to be using their official office to help the election of a candidate from whom they are accepting fees.
This is the case of Crescent Communications, in which Russell Fry, Heather Crawford and Cam Crawford all participate as campaign consultants. In both 2016 and 2018, Crescent Communications ran the campaigns of local politicians who were later endorsed by one or more of the Crescent Communications crew. Two attorneys I spoke with believe this violates SC Code section 8-13-700 stated above.
Now Fry is running for Congress. Instead of using his associates in Crescent Communications, he has hired Ivory Tusk Consulting, in which fellow SC House member R. J. May is associated. It will be interesting to see what endorsements, if any, Fry obtains in this race and from whom they come.
Influence can be more subtle than money.
As a member of the SC House, Alan Clemmons not only endorsed, but also heavily campaigned for the election of Stephen Goldfinch as senator, the election of Case Brittain as a representative and the reelection of Sen. Luke Rankin.
Clemmons hired Heather Crawford before she was elected to the SC House to do consulting and constituent services for him. Clemmons’ campaign account filings show he paid Crawford $150,000 over the course of five years for these services but failed to replace her when Crawford was elected to be a representative.

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Budgets - Cuts, Spending and You

Charleston County School District Accelerated Capital Projects

It seems a few campaign donations can accelerate building projects in the Charleston County School District.

According to information on the S.C. Ethics Commission website, CCSD Board of Trustees Chairman Cindy Bohn Coats, Vice Chairman Chris Staubes and member Kate Darby were all recipients of campaign donations from Carolina Park Development LLC, CDM of Charleston LLC and GFP Portside LLC.

Each of the three above named candidates received the maximum $1,000 donation from each of the three companies.

Thad Viers and Coastal Kickback: What If…

The 14 count federal indictment, with a potential 145 years in prison, brought against former state Rep. Thad Viers earlier this week brings several questions to mind.

Twelve of the counts were for what lawyers do every day – remove money from their trust account at the direction of the client.

If all of the withdrawals were made with the intent to hide assets and if Viers knew this as alleged, wouldn’t the 13th count of conspiracy to hide assets cover these transactions?

Maybe the answer to why such a draconian indictment was brought lies with the 14th count – lying to an IRS investigator.

SCGOP In-Fighting

Nikki Haley Campaign Ignores State Law

You have to give Nikki Haley credit for consistency. Whenever the governor comes up against a law she doesn’t like, she ignores it.

The latest comes with having her campaign reimburse the state for the costs of state law enforcement officers providing security while she is on the campaign trail.

Haley’s latest end run around state law results from a trip to North Carolina she made in June where Haley attended an event held by a foundation supporting N.C. Gov. Pat McCrory. During the course of her attendance, Haley picked up a total of $34,500 in campaign donations.

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.