Echo Chamber – The Godfather Of Pork November 11, 2007Posted by fitsnews in SC Politics.
LEATHERMAN USED FIGHT OVER GREEN BEAN MUSEUM TO “SEND A MESSAGE”
FITSNews – November 11, 2007 – S.C. Sen. Hugh Leatherman, the curmudgeony Lilliputian behind South Carolina’s recent explosion in government growth, took a huge public relations hit earlier this year over the issue of funding for a proposed green bean museum in his Florence, S.C. district.
Viewed initially as yet another manifestation of his outright contempt for the taxpayers of this state, the diminuitive Communist was all but tarred and feathered by fiscal conservatives for attempting to secure funding for the “National Bean Market Museum” in Lake City, S.C.
Yet sources now tell FITSNews that the public relations wound Leatherman sustained over the museum was secretly self-inflicted, a calculated gamble designed to solidify his status as the “Godfather of Pork” and deter anyone from stealing his thunder when it came to rewarding friends and punishing enemies with your tax dollars.
In an exclusive interview with FITSNews, a State House insider with close ties to Leatherman literally “spilled the beans” on the true story behind this controversial $1 million budget item.
“Start with the obvious, the green bean museum didn’t pass,” said the insider, who spoke with FITSNews on the condition of anonymity. “Generally, if Leatherman wants something he gets it, and the fact he didn’t get it in this case should immediately tell you something.”
According to the insider’s account, Leatherman put up only a “token fight” for the museum because he secretly wanted it killed.
“Leatherman was the one who insisted it be called the ‘green bean museum’ in the budget line, which is what doomed the project,” the insider said. “If it had been called anything else, it would have sailed through the process.”
So why would Leatherman work behind the scenes to kill a pet project in his own district? Isn’t funneling pork to Florence (over $9 million in this year’s budget alone) his Raison d’être?
Make no mistake, it wasn’t a once-in-a-lifetime appreciation for fiscal conservative principles that motivated the
former Democrat to conspire in secret to have the green bean museum killed. Far from it, in fact.
According to our source, Leatherman was merely engaging in old-fashioned “turf protection,” specifically, letting a powerful Florence County businesswoman know that if she wanted something in the state budget, it was going to go through him – or not go through at all.
“He was sending a message to Darla Moore,” the insider said, referencing the billionaire Lake City, S.C. native. “She wanted the museum funding in the budget and tried to go around him to have it included. When he found out about it, he was livid. So he attached a name to it that was bound to raise opposition, and then worked in the shadows to make sure that its opposition prevailed. The message was simple: You don’t go around Hugh Leatherman.”
Neither Leatherman nor Moore could be reached for comment, but several State Senators familiar with the matter have confirmed that Leatherman indeed worked behind the scenes to kill the museum’s funding.
Leatherman, who once famously told a group of House members that he had “never seen the economic benefit” of cutting taxes, was stripped of his status as Senate Majority Leader in 2004, but he remains the one of the most powerful legislators in the state given his position as Senate Finance Chairman.
He also effectively controls the $2 billion S.C. Budget & Control Board, where he recently cast the deciding vote to restore a Democrat to its helm … and then voted to give him a $23,000 raise at a time when the state is facing a half-billion dollar shortfall.
Solidifying his grip on power is clearly something Leatherman will stop at nothing to achieve … even if it means shooting himself in the foot to send the message that our state’s purse strings are firmly under his control.
Hugh Leatherman – South Carolina’s “Godfather of Pork.”