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Echo Chamber – Breakin’ Da Law, Breakin’ Da Law December 2, 2007

Posted by fitsnews in SC Politics.
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cooper invite

POWERFUL HOUSE WAYS & MEANS CHAIRMAN RUNS AFOUL OF ETHICS LAW

FITSNews – December 2, 2007 – S.C. Ways & Means Chairman Dan Cooper‘s big fundraiser earlier this month was a “Who’s Who” of Columbia insiders, special interest political action committees (PACs) and fellow big government backers in the S.C. General Assembly (including PACs run by Speaker Bobby Harrell and Rep. Harry Cato).

In fact, 33 of the 51 tier-one and tier-two contributors to Cooper’s event were lobbyists’ principals, with another seven tier-one contributors representing either powerful law firms that directly employ State House lobbyists or so-called “Leadership PACs,” which are political action committees operated by powerful legislators. Only two of Cooper’s contributors top-level donors were individual citizens – John A. Miller, Jr. and Thomas E. Persons Sr., although the former is the Chairman-elect of the South Carolina Hospital Association (another lobbyists’ principal) and the latter is President and CEO of the South Carolina Technology Alliance, a group that is certainly no stranger to the State House scene.

Anyway, it’s no surprise that Cooper – one of the top two special interest slaves in all of state government – is being fed almost exclusively by special interest money, but there’s one small problem with this massive “insider haul” of campaign cash …

Specifically, lobbyists’ principals aren’t allowed to appear on fundraising invitations like the one Cooper sent out last month (click on the thumbnail below for a closer look) in an effort to snare even more special interest cash.

cooper invite big

According to South Carolina ethics law (Section 2-17-110, to be precise), “A lobbyist, a lobbyist’s principal, or a person acting on behalf of a lobbyist or a lobbyist’s principal may not host events to raise funds for public officials. No public official may solicit a lobbyist, a lobbyist’s principal, or a person acting on behalf of a lobbyist or a lobbyist’s principal to host a fundraising event for the public official.”

Sure, Cooper’s invitation lists these 33 lobbyists’ principals as “friends” instead of “hosts,” but their names appear alongside a specific request to “Join us for a Reception Honoring S.C. Ways & Means Chairman Dan Cooper.”

“Join us,” people. “Us.” As in the names on the list.

If this invitation isn’t the definition of “hosting an event to raise funds for a public official,” we don’t know what is. Of course given what a toothless, sedated “lion” South Carolina’s Ethics Commission is, we’re gonna go out on a limb and predict that Cooper gets away with this violation scot-free.

In case you couldn’t read their names off either of the pictures provided above, here are the 33 lobbyists’ principals that Cooper used on his invitation to solicit additional funds for his campaign:

Alltel
Astra-Zeneca Pharmaceuticals
AT&T
Blue Ridge Electric Cooperative, Inc.
BlueCross BlueShield of SC
Carolinas AGC
Coca-Cola Bottling Co. Consolidated
Duke Energy
Electronic Cooperatives of SC
General Electric
Home Builders Association of SC
Independent Insurance Agents of SC
Myrtle Beach Harley Davidson
Outdoor Advertising Association of SC
Piedmont Natural Gas
Progress Energy
Rent-A-Center
Select Health of SC, Inc.
South Carolina Association of Convenience Stores
South Carolina Association of Realtors
South Carolina Bankers Association
South Carolina Beer Wholesalers Association
South Carolina Beverage Association
South Carolina Chiropractic Association
South Carolina Credit Union League
South Carolina Health Care Association
South Carolina Manufacturers Alliance
South Carolina Medical Association
South Carolina Optometric Association
South Carolina Petroleum Marketers Association
South Carolina Society of Anesthesiologists
South Carolina Trucking Association
Verizon Wireless

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Comments»

1. anonymous - December 2, 2007

I hope you’re right that Cooper committed a crime:

“Any printed or written statement which falsely and maliciously charges another with the commission of a crime is libelous per se.”

Rogers v. Florence Printing Co., 230 S.C. 304 (S.C. 1956)

2. FITSNews - December 2, 2007

Anon-

We’re truly shaking in our Wellingtons over here … maybe if you had dressed up like a ghost, jumped out from behind a bush and said “Boo!” right before delivering your amatuer First Amendment jurisprudence assessment, that would’ve made it a little scarier.

-FITSNews

3. ron turner - December 2, 2007

Will,
Is the above anonymous posting a threat to you for exercising your first ammendment rights? Keep up the good work Will!
Ron Turner
Summerville, SC

4. Mudthrower - December 2, 2007

Humbug! What poop!

sic(k) willie, if this is such a travesty, then do something about it!! Be a man. File an Ethic’s complaint. Hire lawyers to go after him/them.

Let’s see how far it goes.

Flush, goes another sic(k) willie scoop of kitty litter.

will, why act so surprised? This is part of the ‘business as usual’ that you were an insider to for a while when working for the gubnor.

When you were on the ‘inside’ it wasn’t such a big deal. Was it?

Now that you are an outsider, you try to throw mud.

So, make it stick! Or shut up.

5. Hmmmm... - December 3, 2007

Ron Turner,

Of course it’s a threat, but it’s also good advice. The ultimate defense against libel is truth. Plus there’s the fact that Cooper is a public official. Still, if FITS’ facts were wrong and Cooper wanted to press it, the decision would hinge on intent: Was FITS’ being intentionally malicious? Given the history — Eggtooth, etc. — he might be able to convince 12 people that he was harmed. Won’t happen, but it would be an interesting case to watch.

6. libel lawyer - December 3, 2007

The previous commenter is incorrect. The standard for libel against a public official is called “actual malice,” which the courts have defined as the publication of statements demonstrating a “reckless disregard for the truth.” This means the author must have known beforehand that the information he or she was about to publish was either demonstrably false or had no reasonable basis in fact.

If the ethics statute referenced in this article is accurate, then there is more than sufficient “reasonable basis in fact” for the conclusions the article draws, and intent becomes irrelevent.

7. HD - December 3, 2007

The invitation is cleverly constructed. Your interpretation is incorrect. The three groups of people/entities are unambiguously described as “event contributors.” They aren’t “hosts.” I agree that that the spirit of the law is being circumvented. But, the invitation doesn’t violate the letter of the law.

8. Give Em' Hell - December 3, 2007

It’s official now. Sic Willie is now the H.N.I.C. Joe Clark would be proud. One day Cooper will be singing like these guys.

9. Observer - December 3, 2007

Then we need to just bring em all down…D’s and R’s..even your boy and his followers Sic…they all send out invites and letters to lobbyists and lobbyists principals..they get around it at the bottom with the “if rec’d by a lobbyist, please disregard” Why send to a lobbyist if you know you can’t ?…as a reminder to remind them without facilitation. Bottom line is until we have publicly financed campaigns, then the money will come from the outside, whether indivisual, corporate, or PAC or some other form. How about the Senate Republican Caucus asking for an additional $4000.00 per group to particpate in their golf weekend and to specifically earmark for “operating expenses”…so as not to go over the amount you may have maxed out with. I’m with you on this, but if your gonna call people out, get em all and file a complaint and stop just whining about it.

10. Just Another Embarassed SC Lawyer - December 3, 2007

i know sic(k) willie has a hard on for DC, but is this type of “invitation” to a fundraiser unusual among SC electeds? do any readers have any examples of other electeds invitations that sport the names of lobbyists on the invitation? surely DC has a lawyer who approved this sort of thing….

however, from personal experience, lawyers frequently aren’t contacted to prevent problems, but instead are called in to clean up when the client f*$%s up.

11. bonitz baby bonitz - December 3, 2007

Sic:

You missed bonitz floor covering group. They have had a no bid contract for carpet, floor tile and linoleum since dolly’s boys father was in the statehouse. This contract is for several million dollars a year.

It is run through the BandCB. It is to replace all floor coverings in every state office building.

Think there might be a little bit of graft there?

Oh, and one more question what up with Doug Smith retiring. That is two members of the House leadership in the last two weeks. Do you think something is going on?

12. FITSNews - December 3, 2007

Wow. #11 with a bullet.

We will have to do a little digging on that but if your facts are correct what a nice story that would make …

-FITSNews

13. anon - December 3, 2007
14. anon - December 3, 2007
15. dan - December 3, 2007

damn you will!!!!!!! i need that money!

16. Calhoun Fawls - December 4, 2007

The man who supposedly dislikes Governor Sanford again does his bidding.

SicWillie, do you have abused wife syndrome or what.

Show all the babes you want, but you are Sanford’s bitch and do his bidding. Afraid your daddy is gonna slap you again?

This post proves it.

17. FITSNews - December 4, 2007

Calhoun,

Abused wife is clever, plus it’s got that whole “ironic” quality, which shows at least a modicum of critical thinking skills.

Yet unfortunately for your premise, the fact remains that this website has blasted Sanford more than any other website over the past year, including last week’s ballbreaker on his failed ports leadership.

Cranially-challenged individuals like you have been conditioned to abide by a the zero sum rule of political affiliation, meaning if you’re against politician “X” it necessarily follows that you must be for politician “Y.” Accordingly, if we “pop” Cooper, the explanation must be that we were doing it “for” Sanford.

The only flaw with that preschool logic is that we pop EVERYBODY, we do it whenever we want, we do it because we can, and we do it because it needs to be done.

Are we opinionated? Damn straight. Are we in anybody’s pocket? Not hardly.

That’s why all the attacks against our “credibility” (as if “credibility” with people like you was something we gave a sh*t about to begin with) ring so hollow, and why it’s painfully obvious that if anybody’s in somebody else’s pocket, it’s you.

-FITSNews

18. Whale - December 4, 2007

don’t look now…..but the security upgrades at the statehouse are underway! and guess what. it is being done by a bunch of rednecks who probably know nothing about statehouse security. oh did I mention that the 5 million dollar contract was NOT competitively bid?

my guess is that BIN has something to do with it………

please work your magic.

that is all.


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