Echo Chamber – Some Love For La Socialista, Etc. November 25, 2007Posted by fitsnews in SC Politics.
REPORTER EXPOSES BOGUS INNER WORKINGS OF “COMPETITIVE” GRANTS SCANDAL
FITSNews – November 25, 2007 – It’s rare that we pay a compliment to the big government lovers over at La Socialista (a.k.a. The State newspaper), but ever since we broke the story of South Carolina’s competitive grants scandal way back in March, reporter John O’Connor has been on this story like white on rice.
And while O’Connor’s taste in holiday sweaters frequently disappoints (editor’s note: yikes!), the same cannot be said for his excellent investigative report in this morning’s edition of La Socialista – which reveals that 20% of the program’s grant recipients have provided no accounting whatsoever for how the taxpayers’ money was spent, and at least a half-dozen entities have used the money on frivolities that are totally unrelated to the purpose of the grants.
According to O’Connor’s story, $2,500 that was supposed to go to playground equipment (like that’s even a pressing “economic development” need to begin with) instead went to hire an Elvis impersonator in Ridgeville, S.C. Another $5,000 from a pressing “economic development” grant in Kingstree, S.C. went to buy a new deep fryer – like rural South Carolinians aren’t fat enough already.
In addition to the “competitive” grant waste that we know about, $5 million in taxpayer money is totally unaccounted for – which the former State Representative who administers the program told O’Connor was “pretty doggone good.” Sadly, the story didn’t indicate whether or not Jimmy Bailey (of course that’s his name) said that with a straight face.
Welcome to South Carolina, people …
The fact that the “competitive grants” program is a legislative slush fund funneling money to individual legislators’ pork projects under the ruse of “economic development” is not up for debate at this point.
Yet what remains to be exposed is how the principal architect of the slush fund, State Sen. Hugh Leatherman, has illegally used the grant program to influence his colleagues’ votes on the floor of the State Senate.
As we reported in the story that opened this whole can of worms back on March 13, Leatherman has been accused of collecting a list of pet projects near and dear to the hearts of State Senators and then threatening to block those projects unless the Senators do his bidding.
Unfortunately, the Senators we’ve spoken with are reluctant to publicly point the finger at Leatherman for this brazenly illegal shakedown, with one Senator telling FITSNews back in March, “if you’re going to shoot the king, you better make sure you kill him.”
Ironically, Leatherman himself is being asked to lead an investigation into a separate competitive grant “scandal” involving Gov. Mark Sanford, who may be the only person to actually use the program to generate a positive economic development return for the state.
In the meantime, State Rep. Michael Thompson is drafting legislation that will do away with the bogus grant program as part of a broader spending reform package.