S.C. Statehouse Report
Sunday, Jan. 28, 2007
VIEW: http://www.statehousereport.com/columns/07.0128.spending.htm

Playing politics with $1.8 million
By Andy Brack, Publisher

JAN. 28, 2007 -- Let's say you are a statewide officeholder who can't run for re-election but has $1.8 million in the bank of unused campaign donations.

State law is pretty clear and open on what you are allowed to do. You can give it to a tax-exempt charity, the state's general fund, a political party or committee or return it to donors on a pro-rata basis. You can even keep it and use it to run again for the same office or put it in a fund to run for another office, if you have written permission from donors to do that. Finally, you can do a combination of any of the above.

Armed with this information, what would you do with a $1.8 million stash?

Several people around the Statehouse say they would give it away to charity. (A cynic might say that's a choice that makes them look good in a column like this because they really won't have to make such a decision.)

Assistant House Minority Leader Vida Miller, D-Georgetown: "If I were fortunate enough to be in that position, I would set up a scholarship or foundation for deserving students in Georgetown and Charleston counties."

Rep. Wallace Scarborough, R-Charleston, "I think the first thing I ought to do is return it to the people who gave it. If they turned around and said keep it and do what you wanted to, I think I would give it away to charity."

Rep. Bill Herbkersman, R-Beaufort: "I think I'd give it to charity….It does more good as an aggregate than giving it back. People give you money for you to do good. Maybe that's the culmination of you doing something in office."

Rep. Kenneth Hodges, D-Colleton: "I would give it to a non-profit. I think that would be a fair way to deal with the contributions. Most of your contributors do support non-profits as well and they probably feel good about that."

Not everyone, however, says giving it away would be the best use of the money. A well-placed lobbyist immediately saw the political implications of such a fund: "I'd use it to further my agenda. I would concentrate on those issues, take it to the public and use advertising, newspaper articles and things to encourage folks to boost grassroots efforts to get something done."

Similarly, state Sen. Jim Ritchie said, "I would use it to advance the principles I believe in order to effect meaningful change."

And the guy who actually has the $1.8 million in leftover campaign funds to make this choice?

Maverick Gov. Mark Sanford, never one for the conventional, will use the money for more politics, according to January press reports:

"Governor Sanford will use these funds to promote the legislative agenda he campaigned on, particularly restructuring, limiting spending and lowering taxes, and to assist those in the legislative process who support that vision." The quote was from Jason Miller, the fellow who coordinated Sanford's November win and who now serves as the governor's highly-paid deputy chief of staff.

When asked this week for more detail, Sanford spokesman Joel Sawyer said, "We don't have anything to add right now outside of what's already been said."


We encourage your feedback. If you'd like to respond to something in SC Statehouse Report, please send us an e-mail. We reserve the right to edit for length and clarity. One submission allowed per month. Submission of a comment grants permission to us to reprint. Please keep your comment to 250 words or less:


What's got several lawmakers worried about this campaign surplus isn't that the governor might run TV ads on issues. What they're worried about is the part of the quote that says "and assist those in the legislative process who support that vision." In other words, they're worried they might face political retribution in November 2008 if Sanford works against them by funding political opponents.

In the 2006 elections, Sanford backed several candidates, some of whom beat incumbents and some of whom lost. It's left a lingering bad taste in the mouths of the targeted Republicans and Democrats, as well as a fear that he might do it again.

While the governor probably won't listen, he'd be well-advised to use the money for positive, not ideological political, purposes. If he really wants to get his way in the General Assembly, removing the possibility of political retribution will go a long way more than funding other mavericks to be as ineffective as Sanford has been over the last four years.

Andy Brack, publisher of S.C. Statehouse Report, can be reached at brack@statehousereport.com.

Recent commentary

WELCOME. Three-year-old Avery Brack gazes at her newborn sister, Ellen Hampton Brack, daughter of Courtenay and Andy Brack, publisher of Statehouse Report. We know this has nothing to do with politics, but thought readers would enjoy. Young Ellie was born 6:57 a.m. Thursday in Charleston. Mother and daughter are doing well.

lighter side
A "State of" you probably don't want to hear

Another great cartoon from Bill McLemore:

1/23: Healing can't begin until forgiveness is found

To the editor:

We've been here a year now; love the state, the people and the food. I just don't see how the flag issue is going to heal. [Commentary, 1/21]

Call me ignorant. I'm white, middle-aged [and] from Detroit, the most segregated city in America. When the families started moving from the city to the suburbs to escape the violence and crime, for the first time I was really proud to be an American. To see the kids walking together playing together and eating dinner at each others homes gave me hope for this country.

"To see folks who work, play and live together but don't have supper together to me is just plain weird."

Then I moved here. The kids sit at opposite end of the class, opposite ends of the lunchroom. If you have friends of a different color. You're blackballed forever, never to be admitted back in with your peers. To see folks who work, play and live together but don't have supper together to me is just plain weird.

Where do young children learn to hate people of another color? I believe it comes from the parents. The racism we've encountered is really shocking. And the response we receive is welcome to the south. Wow, like that's how it is. I was brought up if you don't like it, change it. Don't give me some lame garbage about that's how it is. I see nothing at the schools promoting any healing, nothing at the churches promoting healing. You are still dealing with some serious issues and maybe starting with the flag will help, but it seems most of you are so used to the memories of the past, and until forgiveness is found, healing cannot begin.

-- Thomas Dearing, Turbeville, S.C.

1/23: Enjoyed flag article

To the editor:

I have not seen you in a while, but I always read your articles. The flag article was a great article.

-- Odessa S. Sirman, Hampton, S.C.

1/22: Some hope on lowering flag

To the editor

I agree with you that the flag needs to come down and South Carolina needs to stop fighting the Civil War and get about a more progressive agenda. I have had my doubts about how amenable most of those in the General Assembly are to doing that, even in the face of reasonable and well-founded requests to do so for important segments of the state they are ordinarily wont to listen to—especially the business community and the state’s religious leaders.

However, news reports last week that the NCAA may impose sanctions against states such as S.C. that display the Confederate flag so prominently, give me some hope. If such sanctions come about, and if, as a result, they impact negatively on the sports programs at S.C.’s institutions of higher learning, I believe the General Assembly will act with dispatch to bring down the flag. I believe only sports fans and athletic officials (who probably will not take a public stand, but might work behind the scene) can trump the mesmerizing power of the Confederate flag on S.C.’s politicians.

-- Chip Brown, Conway, S.C.

1/22: Simple flag solution

To the editor:

In my mind, a simple solution would be to fly the first national Confederate flag. Georgia did this in their state flag and it seemed to make the issue go away.

-- Julian G. Frasier III, Sumter, S.C.

1/21: Do something constructive

To the editor:

The state has dealt with the flag. Do something constructive, get out and witness the waste of resources and personnel of SCDOT.

-- Bill Singletary, Timmonsville, S.C.

Recent feedback

The best way to get South Carolina news is to augment your morning paper and TV show with SC Clips, a daily executive news summary compiled from more than 30 state newspaper and TV sources. It's delivered every business day and is packed with news of statewide impact, politics, business and more. Subscriptions are affordable at $30 per month -- and less for business subscribers. More: SC Clips.

How you can subscribe to the full edition of the report

The above version of S.C. Statehouse Report is the free edition. Our paid version, which costs about $100 per month, offer a weekly legislative forecast packed with information that can keep you and your business on the cutting edge. There's a new limited paid version for individuals that costs about $30 per month. More on subscribing.

Notes veteran lawmaker Sen. Glenn McConnell: "Statehouse Report gives an inside practical report of weekly problems with and progress of legislation. It reviews the whole landscape."

In each issue of Statehouse Report, you'll get:

  • Hot news -- an early peek on something really big that will happen at the Statehouse. We continually beat other news organizations in finding major trends in issues, from teacher and budget cuts to wetlands proposals.
  • Agenda -- a weekly forecast of the coming week's floor agenda
  • Radar Screen -- a behind-the-scenes look at what's really going on in the General Assembly
  • Palmetto Politics -- Tidbits from the world of South Carolina politics.
  • McLemore's World -- an early view of our respected cartoonist Bill McLemore.
  • Tally Sheet -- a weekly review of all of the new bills introduced in the legislature in everyday language
  • Blogroll -- a weekly summary of the best of South Carolina political blogs.
  • Scorecard -- A Thumbs Up and Thumbs Down of major political/policy events for the week.
  • Calendar -- a weekly list of major meetings for the House, Senate and state agencies.
  • Megaphone -- a quote of the week that you'll find illuminating.

To learn more about subscriptions, contact Andy Brack at: brack@statehousereport.com


South Carolina Statehouse Report

Publisher: Andy Brack
Editor: Bill Davis | Assistant Editor: Betsy Brack

Phone: 843.670.3996 Fax: 843.722.9887

Subscription or sponsorship Inquiries: info@statehousereport.com

Have an event for the SC Statehouse Report calendar? E-mail details to: news@statehousereport.com or fax to above number.

For additional information, including subscription prices, go to http://www.statehousereport.com/.

Just a quick note to let you know how you missed out this week. If you were a subscriber to the paid edition of Statehouse Report, you would have received the information below on Friday AND you would have gotten other special features:

  • NUMBER OF THE WEEK: $41 million
  • NEWS: Senate, House divided on major issues
  • LEGISLATIVE AGENDA: DOT moves to the top
  • RADAR SCREEN: Budget debate schedule set
  • PALMETTO POLITICS: Carol wants Joe's spot, more
  • TALLY SHEET: Wide array of bills introduced
  • BLOGROLL: Quotes from all over
  • SCORECARD: Ups and downs over the past week
  • MEGAPHONE: There's a lawyer joke in here

For more information, contact us today about our affordable paid subscriptions for businesses and organizations that need the inside scoop at the Statehouse.

Restructure this
From the paid-subscriber issue of Statehouse Report

JAN. 26, 2007 -- With the Senate taking a near-lethal swipe this week at the bulk of state restructuring efforts, the entire legislature will now turn its collective eye to the last major remaining item on Gov. Mark Sanford's legislative wish list: placing the head of the state's Department of Transportation in his cabinet.

  • If you subscribed to the full edition of Statehouse Report, you'd get more information on this and much more. Contact us today to learn more.

AVAILABLE NOW: Furman University's Don Gordon has great things to say about Andy Brack's new book of commentaries, "Bugging the Palmettos." Click here to learn more and buy the book -- only $15.00!

Visit Statehouse Report


A blog on ideas and news that is for Southern policy leaders, analysts and more.


  Copyright 2007, Statehouse Report LLC, which is affiliated with The Brack Group, Charleston, S.C.
Reproduction is prohibited without express permission of the publisher. For additional information, including subscription prices, go to