While Fortune Magazine just rated S.C. Governor Nikki Haley as number 17 on the list of the World’s 50 Greatest Leaders, other politicians in our state continue to example corruption. Haley’s excellence aside, the State of S.C. is now ranked 3rd in the nation for political corruption and the city of Myrtle Beach is rated the most politically corrupt city in our state.
Below is last year’s news of Harrell’s indictment. As part of his plea, Harrell promised last year to turn state’s evidence on all other S.C. politicians involved in this kind of activity statewide. Problem?: As the chickens are coming home to roost, we are just now finding out who it is guarding the barn door. As the old saying goes, power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. As the nation trends towards political outsiders, common sense and honesty seem to be a currency lacking in S.C.’s political landscape.
The underlying corruption relates to key relationships between elected officials and corporate/business concerns. In short, outside of Governor Haley, politicians are explicitly working for and being financed by large business concerns above and beyond the concerns of the people of S.C. How these politicians are being paid is of chief concern.
The system in place statewide is set up to protect those corrupt elected officials while also protecting those who are financing S.C.’s corrupt government.
CASE IN POINT
Just yesterday, S.C. Attorney General Alan Wilson’s office dismissed the state prosecutor who has been investigating political corruption statewide, claiming that the prosecutor David Pascoe had abused his power. This, just as Pascoe’s team was reaching a critical juncture of investigating a host of S.C. State Senators and Congressmen involved in unethical conduct like Harrell’s.
As SCNow reports:
After Harrell’s conviction, Wilson handed SLED’s files on other lawmakers to Pascoe, whom the attorney general had also tapped to head up Harrell’s prosecution.
At the time, Wilson, a Republican who had drawn fire from Harrell’s legal team, said he recused himself “out of an abundance of caution” because SLED’s report cited “certain legislative members.”
The dustup over Pascoe’s quest for grand jury access shows the investigation had apparently been heating up in recent weeks.
In his petition filed Friday, Pascoe offered exhibits to support his position that he had the authority to initiate a grand jury investigation as he considered himself Wilson’s appointed prosecutor in the case.
“Clearly, the Attorney General designated me to handle the investigation included in the Case Initiation,” Pascoe wrote Wednesday in an email to Parks. “Indeed, I am not merely a ‘designee’ but the acting Attorney General on the case because he and his office have an inherent conflict of interest and has recused his office from involvement in the case.”
Just hours before yanking Pascoe from the case, Wilson’s office fired off a statement denying any attempt to block the corruption probe and indicating there were “grave concerns that Solicitor Pascoe is not following the law or proper procedure.” Really?
HOW IT WORKS:
SC legislators including Senators and Congressman receive campaign contributions collectively and individually from members and associates of the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce, Charleston Chamber of Commerce and Beaufort Hilton Head Chamber of Commerce. These funds are then used to keep these senators and congressman locked into office.
Once in office, the SC General Assembly (SC Senators and Congressmen) then select the S.C. Supreme Court, The SC Highway Commission, and all other state commissions. The Assembly controls the budget for groups like DHEC, and also control commerce through infrastructure banks, committees, and matching state and federal funds for organizations including the different chambers of commerce.
These politicians are actually raising tax dollars from us and then using these very dollars to guarantee favorable outcomes in future elections so as to perpetually keep themselves in office.
HOW COULD THAT BE? Take the $30 million the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber gets in a 1% tourist tax. This money is earmarked for marketing. However, the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber can spend $5 million or more of this money with firms like Miller Direct out of Rock Hill, S.C. or other such advertising companies. These companies can legally have a mark up of over 50% on that media purchase, meaning $2.5 million for that firm. Where would a wise media consulting company park some of those profits? You got it, into political campaign pockets. Our tax monies, their profits, their incumbency guaranteed.
BUY THE MEDIA – Keep them quiet
Every single major media outlet in Myrtle Beach is on the hook with the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber for millions. Each gets its own hand out. Corrupt the media, keep them quiet or working for you. This eliminates transparency and taxpayer/citizen resistance. It is not simply the stories these media outlets cover. It is also the stories they refuse to cover.
MYRTLE BEACH GOES ROGUE:
The City of Myrtle Beach wrote the book on how lawlessness works in these politically corrupt schemes. In 2009, local Chamber of Commerce members walked into a local bank and wrote out $324,000 in sequentially numbered $1,000.00 cashier checks. These checks were later handed out to local politicians by Myrtle Beach Chamber of Commerce C.E.O. Brad Dean to elected politicians on city council and also throughout State Government. Indicted former Speaker of the House, Bobby Harrell was certainly on Brad Dean’s speed dial.
This 1% scheme has been so effective, the City of Myrtle Beach works feverishly now to create new tax zones ongoing. In a meeting with the 5 Points property owners yesterday, the city introduced Carol Coleman, Director of Planning for the City of Myrtle Beach. This is now the third pass that the City of Myrtle Beach has made through local non elected, non accountable directors of a city created board, the Downtown Redevelopment Corporation (DRC). The DRC is lead by a non elected executive named, David Sebock
While Sebock has none of his own money invested in the Downtown Area, is not a business owner in Myrtle Beach, and is not an elected official, his quasi governmental/private business role creates for him a landlord mentality over the actual business owners in that district.
The business owners in that district have made it very clear to City Manager John Pedersen and City Councilwoman Mary Jeffcoat, that they are not interested in paying a mid tax. Meanwhile these non elected appointees continue working overtime to impose the city’s will on these merchants. While Councilman Randal Wallace attended the meeting yesterday, city council and the mayor continue to work in keeping an additional layer of non elected officials in between themselves and these local merchants.
Said Mike Hobieka, one property owner in the 5 points/Super Block area, “The area has become paralyzed with fear that changes are too late in coming.”
Shai David, multiple property owner in the Super Block stated, “It is clear that both the property owners and the city each have a great love for our community. Trimming Trees, planting shrubs, resurfacing the parking lot, and re-striping the parking lot, bringing in new trash cans, and upgrading city signage are small things that require no additional special projects, but rather a common sense maintenance that should have been paid for by property taxes. Those property owners in the Super Block have paid thousands of dollars over the years and yet very little maintenance and few improvements have been made.” David said his property taxes alone were in the neighborhood of $10,000 annually on the Super Block alone. David added, “Personally, I want to see good faith on the side of city government by doing these small things before I trust them with additional tax dollars. It’s no different than the city asking a property owner for the bare minimum like painting an outside wall that is pealing. If that property owner, who neglected to spend a few dollars to fix his dilapidated property, came to the city and asked for a grant to do a major project, how much trust and faith would the city have in him? It is my opinion that both private business owners and city government have to make small steps in improving the city and the community and show good faith, motivation, and overall care before entering a partnership that requires more money, more time and more energy. I hope one day the city council and property owners can work together without the need for all of these boards.”
Skip Hoagland, a State-Wide Watchdog on Chamber of Commerce corruption said, “Our state has not witnessed a period this dark with one small group of people working through state government and local city governments against an entire population since the antebellum days of slavery prior to 1865. This hour is among our state’s darkest and most corrupt hours. Statewide corruption and local city government corruption are killing any and all opportunities for true capitalism and true growth in our state.“