Sunday, Jan. 28, 2007
Playing politics with $1.8 million
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
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
Similarly, state Sen. Jim Ritchie said, "I would use
it to advance the principles I believe in order to effect
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
"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."
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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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
"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
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
"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.
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.
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 toespecially the business community and
the states 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.
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.
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
-- Bill Singletary, Timmonsville, S.C.
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