Echo Chamber – Breakin’ Da Law, Breakin’ Da Law December 2, 2007Posted by fitsnews in SC Politics.
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.
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:
Blue Ridge Electric Cooperative, Inc.
BlueCross BlueShield of SC
Coca-Cola Bottling Co. Consolidated
Electronic Cooperatives of SC
Home Builders Association of SC
Independent Insurance Agents of SC
Myrtle Beach Harley Davidson
Outdoor Advertising Association of SC
Piedmont Natural Gas
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