Bobby’s Shaking Down The Special Interest Money, Too December 4, 2007Posted by fitsnews in SC Politics.
MORE ON THE “WINK-WINK” WORLD OF LOBBYIST FUNDRAISING
FITSNews- December 4, 2007 – For all the grief we gave S.C. Ways & Means Chairman Dan Cooper for his use of lobbyists’ principals as fundraising tools, at least his people remembered to put the standard “Dear Lobbyist, wink-wink” disclaimer on the invitation:
If this solicitation was inadvertently sent to a lobbyist, please disregard.
Obviously that disclaimer doesn’t excuse Cooper’s flagrant use of lobbyists’ principals as event hosts, which is technically illegal, but it does serve as a glimpse into the cozy relationship between powerful Columbia politicians and the special interest lobbyists who assist them in raising them boatloads of cash.
Since directly soliciting campaign contributions from lobbyists is expressly forbidden by state law, campaigns use “Cover Your Ass” lingo such as the verbage featured on Cooper’s mailing (and dozens of campaign mailings like it) to make it seem completely accidental every time these fundraising pitches get sent to practically the entire directory of S.C. registered lobbyists.
Not to put too fine a point on it, but assuming that these mailings don’t specifically target lobbyists in an effort to get them to go out and raise special interest money is like assuming that political connections don’t factor into no-bid government contracts, which in turn don’t factor into hefty pay raises for the people who dole out those contracts.
Or assuming that babies really do come from storks.
Anyway, ever since we published our story on Cooper’s invite two days ago, the FITSNews’ mailbox has been blowing up with similar examples of questionable tactics, including a fundraising letter from House Speaker Bobby Harrell that neglected to include the whole “if you’re a lobbyist, please disregard this letter” charade. Here’s a look at the Harrell fundraising letter:
Hmmm … we wonder if that letter ended up in any lobbyists’ mailboxes? Because if it did, Bobby could have a small problem on his hands.
We know for a fact it went to several lobbyists’ principals, and while the letter didn’t specifically use the word “host” in encouraging them to “participate in this event,” it certainly appears to run afoul of the same ethics law as Cooper’s mailing.
Of course since South Carolina’s State Ethics Commission has about as much testicular mass as a female kitten, it’s doubtful any of this will ever be investigated, let alone even glanced at.
Even more doubtful is the notion that South Carolina’s ethically-challenged Supreme Court would actually do its job and weigh in on the legality of using lobbyists’ principals as campaign fundraising tools.
The end result of all this, not surprisingly, will be the perpetuation of a government spending orgy in which the lobbyists who direct big bucks to powerful politicians get taken care of and the average taxpayer ends up getting stuck with the bill.
Which is pretty much par for the course in South Carolina …