The other shoe has dropped in prosecutor Pascoe’s corruption probe. Actually, several shoes (so maybe that’s not the best metaphor, unless we’re talking about a well-shod octopus):
Republican consultant Richard Quinn Sr., for years a kingmaker in S.C. politics, was indicted Wednesday by the State Grand Jury on a felony charge of criminal conspiracy, as well as a charge of illegal lobbying, or failure to register as a lobbyist.
Since the late 1970s, Quinn, 73, has been one of South Carolina’s premier political consultants. An insider’s insider, he has helped elevate many S.C. politicians to power, nearly all Republicans. His clients have included Gov. Henry McMaster, Attorney General Alan Wilson, U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, and U.S. Rep. Joe Wilson, all Republicans, as well as Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin, a Democrat.
Wednesday’s indictments capped months of behind-the-scenes activity by Special Prosecutor David Pascoe, the State Grand Jury, and nine State Law Enforcement Division agents. Pascoe of Orangeburg, the elected 1st Circuit solicitor, also enlisted the help of three other elected solicitors from around the state.
The illegal lobbying indictment issued against Quinn says he “did attempt to influence the action or vote of members of the S.C. General Assembly by direct communication on behalf of entities which employed, retained or appointed defendant’s businesses and defendant did not register as a lobbyist …”
Until now, the bombshells had been dropping all around the elder Mr. Quinn, but not on him. Now, the direct hit has come.
Jim Harrison, former House Judiciary Committee chairman and current head of Legislative Council, was also indicted, along with ex-Rep. Tracy Edge. And additional charges were brought against Sen. John Courson and the younger Quinn, Rep. Rick.
Yet another shock to the very heart of the S.C. GOP. What next? Pascoe said, “this is still an ongoing investigation.”
Earlier today, I posted a speech from a young Republican — my own representative, and I couldn’t be prouder of him — who condemned our current governor for being so determined to hang onto his office that he has refused to lead. Henry just won’t take the chance.
Coincidentally, tonight Rep. James Smith — like Micah Caskey, a veteran of the War on Terror — stood before a crowd of supporters and promised to be a governor who “cares more about doing the job than keeping the job.” Which is the opposite of what Rep. Caskey accurately characterized our governor as being.
James said a lot of other things — about education, about health care, and about having an energy policy that benefits the people of South Carolina and not just its utilities and their lobbyists.
He spoke out against corruption and for transparency and accountability. Echoing my own Power Failure project, he spoke of a South Carolina that is no longer first where it should be last, and last where it should be first.
He did a good job. I was impressed. And you know what? I think he’s got a chance to win.
I tried to shoot video, but my phone ran out of storage room. I’ll try to clean it up and do better in the future.
Because this is going to be a fascinating, and fateful, election for South Carolina…
Smith with some of his comrades from the war in Afghanistan.
With next year’s race for governor beginning to take shape in recent days, I got to thinking back to the moment when Henry McMaster lost me.
Speaker Jay Lucas and the rest of the GOP leadership in the House, eventually joined by the GOP-led Senate, had shown courage in stepping up to pass a bill that reformed our Highway department and, for the first time in 30 years, raised the tax on gasoline in order to pay for road repairs.
Lawmakers had hoped, after two governors in a row who were more about anti-government posturing than governing, that they would have a pragmatic partner in McMaster, someone who was serious about South Carolina’s needs and how to address them.
They were wrong. And they were bitterly disappointed.
I remembered reading at the time that that disappointment was eloquently expressed in a floor speech by an unlikely spokesman — my own rookie representative, Republican Micah Caskey. I missed his speech at the time. But I went back and watched it this week. Here it is. If you watch it, you can see why one observer responded this way, according to a reporter with The State:
Overheard on the House floor after @MicahCaskey‘s speech: “Damn!”
Freshmen just don’t say things like this to their own party’s governor. But Micah did.
The relevant part of the speech — after Micah pays his respects to his new colleagues and notes this is his first time to take the podium — starts at 5:50.
His one prop, and the object of his scorn, was a copy of McMaster’s veto message, delivered the night before. Some excerpts:
“What this is,” he says of the letter, “is not leadership.”
“Its intellectual dishonesty is only outweighed by its intellectual bankruptcy.”
“The governor surely had an opportunity to lead on this issue. He knew there was a problem. He could have done it…. He didn’t do it.”
“He chose to remain silent. He chose not to act. He chose not to lead.”
“Had he put forth an idea, we could have gone from there…”
“I don’t like raising taxes… I didn’t want to have to vote ‘yes’ for this bill… but I did, because that’s what leadership requires: Admitting reality and stepping forward and addressing it.”
“What it is not is cowering below, hiding behind political pablum, waiting on somebody else to fix it because you were worried about your own career.”
Waving the letter aloft, he said “Ladies and gentlemen, this is not a serious message. This is not a serious proposal. This is not a serious alternative to what it is that ails South Carolina today. It is not. It is not.”
“What this is… this… is politics. South Carolina doesn’t need more politics. South Carolina needs serious answers to serious problems.”
Of the alternative the governor suggested, Caskey said: “We’re gonna bond out road paving over 20 years for something that’ll depreciate in 10. That’s his idea.”
“That’s not a serious answer.”
“What I am saying in my vote to override the veto is that this (holds up the letter), this is not good enough. We need more leadership.”
He tells his colleagues that however they vote, “I know you’ve been engaged. You led.” Unlike the governor.
He concluded by saying that a vote to override would say, “We deserve better. We deserve leadership. And you can take this message…”
What’s this? I don’t know. The category was “Any other meritorious vegetable,” which cracked me up.
Some random topics:
I recommend the pork chop-on-a-stick — Have you been to the Fair yet? What did you eat? I tried the pork chop-on-a-stick, and it was really good, once I removed the stick — about 3/4 thick, nicely grilled and tender. It may have been the most normal Fair food I’ve every tried. Goes well with Fiske Fries…
Here’s hoping the Charleston paper doesn’t mind if I share a good-sized chunk:
Why Biden is backing Smith: “I have met a lot of guys in my career … but this is a guy, I swear to God, that I would trust with anything. This is a guy who I watched, he never puts himself before anybody else.”
“He’s not about tearing the house down. … I look at him and I think this is a guy with the energy, the integrity, the experience that can really have South Carolina get up and start to walk.”
How Smith reminds Biden of his son: He said Smith possesses the sense of duty of his late son, Beau, who passed on taking his father’s Senate seat when Biden become vice president to remain Delaware’s attorney general. Both younger men went on military deployments to the Middle East while in political office.
“They’re kindred spirits. … I know it sounds corny but it comes down to honor, duty and again the guy (Smith) has all tools. He knows the issues. His instincts are right. He thinks you should be able to make a billion dollars if you could, but you ought to take care of people and just give everybody a chance.
“I remember saying to him once that I thought that one of the problems with the elites in both our parties, we don’t have a lot of faith in ordinary people any more. And James started talking about his grandfather and great-grandfather (working class men from poor backgrounds). Ordinary people can do extraordinary things if you give them half a chance. I’m convinced he believes that.”…
I’m still waiting to hear who’s backing Phil Noble. He must be responding to something going on in the party; I’m just not sure what. I didn’t know there was a sizable contingent of Democrats who didn’t like James. I need to learn more…
Dueling Confederate flag controversies — First, go read Cindi’s column. Then, consider this: I think her points are mostly sound, but it seems to me the Orangeburg guy might have a case to make that his neighbor’s actions are lowering his property value and possibly even putting him in danger. I’d be particularly interested in what you lawyers would think of that.
Happy real Columbus Day! — Never mind the controversies, which to me are neither here nor there. Just enjoy the cartoon. (And yes, I know that everybody knew the world was round, and that Columbus was wrong about how big it was. It’s just the untrue story is funnier.)…
Yow! I just watched this short video at thestate.com. Someone needs to contact the Guinness people, because this has to be the record for the most populist cliches packed into a minute and seven seconds.
Wait, the phone’s ringing… It’s 2010 Nikki Haley, and she wants her Tea Party speech back…
Let’s just hope the rest of the speech, whenever and wherever it was delivered, was way, way better than this. Because you know, she could get elected, and we’d have to hear this stuff for four years. Again…
What they did not address, at least to my satisfaction, is the larger question: Why sell Santee Cooper?
In the normal course of things, it seems an idea worth exploring: Why should the state operate a utility, now, in the 21st century? We’ve pretty much made it through the rural electrification phase of our development.
But in the context of the current scandal over the nuclear plant fiasco, it makes less sense. To me, anyway.
I mean, isn’t everybody kind of ticked off that Santee Cooper — and SCANA — were out of control on this thing?
Wouldn’t the natural reaction under such circumstances be to think, “Hey, we own Santee Cooper. Since we own it, we can get it under control.” If the current laws and regulations don’t allow for that kind of control — and it appears they don’t — then change the laws and regulations.
But don’t sell it off to some out-of-state conglomerate that won’t give a damn what we want the utility to do and to be.
Isn’t there something kind of irresponsible in state officials wanting to wash their hands of the utility at this particular moment? Isn’t this kind of a backwards reaction?
There’s probably a flaw in my thinking on this that is obvious to everybody but me. Please, somebody explain it to me…
Charleston businessman Phil Noble becomes the second Democrat to enter the 2018 race for South Carolina governor, joining state Rep. James Smith, D-Richland, in vying for the party’s nomination.
Noble is president of South Carolina New Democrats, a group founded by former S.C. Gov. Richard Riley, and a longtime Democratic activist.
South Carolina is “an amazing state with terrific potential, but a broken, dysfunctionally corrupt state government is keeping us from having all the things we ought to have,” Noble told The Associated Press on Tuesday.
Noble, who has yet to file with the state Election Commission, will make a formal announcement on Wednesday. Smith announced his candidacy on Thursday….
I was going to refer you to the video interview I did with Phil back when he sought his party’s chairmanship in 2011, but the embed code isn’t working. If I get it up and running, I’ll share it so that y’all will know a bit more about him.
In the meantime… he and James might not be the only ones seeking their party’s nod next year. I’ve heard another name or two murmured out there. But so far, there’s nothing like the active, crowded bunch clamoring for the GOP nomination — despite the fact that the incumbent is Republican…
Check this out, and see if you can tell what makes it a more extreme example of what I’m on about:
Since Trump’s first day in office, his attacks on women have been relentless. His administration and the GOP have now:
Rolled back Title IX regulations.
Denied access to birth control.
Attempted to criminalize abortion.
Tried to deny healthcare for women and children.
If this isn’t a war on women, I don’t know what is — but it won’t go unchallenged.
For decades, Congressman Evans has been on the front lines fighting for women’s rights and our freedom to make our own choices. But recently, the Trump administration stripped away birth control from millions of women — and Dwight needs our help now more than ever to fight back.
Women rely on birth control for countless reasons like endometriosis, controlling (often painful) hormonal conditions, and family planning. This ill-conceived decision to roll back the Affordable Care Act’s mandate will not only make contraception unaffordable for 55 million women across the nation, it takes away a woman’s right to plan for her future.
During October, the month that women are reminded to take special care of our health, the Trump administration managed to find yet another way to sabotage us. It’s completely unacceptable, we will fight this at every turn.
Mary Kate Clement
Dwight Evans for Congress
That’s right. The entire release didn’t bother even to mention the state or district he seeks to represent — or in his case, to continue to represent. It’s Pennsylvania’s 2nd Congressional District, FYI, located in Philadelphia.
(Oh, and in case anyone’s having trouble digging my point — no, I’m not saying he is more extreme, in terms of political views, than that woman yesterday. That would be pretty tough, since she’s all about being as extreme as she can be. No, my point, which should be perfectly obvious, is that he takes the all-politics-is-national madness a step further than she did. She, at least, mentioned Tennessee. In passing. Once…)
His website touts his interest in “a stronger Philadelphia, block by block,” which certainly sounds like he’s embracing Tip O’Neill’s dictum about politics being local. But in reaching out to the rest of the country for money — that is, to a subset of a subset of the rest of the country, carefully whittled and shaped by an algorithm — he demonstrates no interest at all in Philadelphia.
On the website, he wants to talk about “a plan or America’s cities,” “creating good jobs” and “investing in public schools.” Not a word in those main headings about the single issue that he’s reaching out on in this fund-raiser.
And of course, the people he’s trying to reach with this email don’t care a fig (at least, in his estimation of them) about any of those issues. That’s the thing that sort of blow me away about the email. It seems to suppose that Donald Trump was just fine until he weighed in on the part of the ACA that forces employers to offer birth-control coverage.
Never mind the way the guy has disgraced the office of president since Day One. Never mind his taunting North Korea, or withdrawing from the TPP, or pulling the U.S. out of the Paris accord, or his grossly irresponsible and indiscriminate attempts to destroy the ENTIRE Affordable Care Act, as opposed to this one small part of it.
But that, presumably, is all his recipients care about. He is, without apparent shame, trying to exploit the lack of perspective of single-issue voters.
Which makes me wonder, as I wondered with that Marsha Blackburn email, how did I get on this list? If he thinks that’s what I care about, and all I care about, he don’t know me very well, do he?
I say that for a number of reasons, not the least of them being: I couldn’t care less who represents the 2nd Congressional District in Pennsylvania, and wouldn’t lift a finger — much less write a check — to affect the outcome.
Why? Because it’s none of my business. I live in South Carolina.
Marsha Blackburn saying she’s politically incorrect and PROUD OF IT. Yee-haw…
Almost from the moment Tip O’Neill said, “All politics is local,” the statement has been less and less true.
Now, we can confidently say the opposite: No matter how local a race should be, it’s all about the national. Rather than deciding on local issues, such as who is more likely to get the potholes filled on Main Street, all we hear about is the idiotic talking points of left and right from within the Beltway.
A couple of months back, I got on a list. I’m not sure how, but I did. And I know I did because I started getting a new sort of email — appeals for funding to help poor Joe Arpaio, to elect Judge Roy Moore, to poke the GOP Establishment in the eye, to elect this or that person representing the Bizarro wing of the Republican Party, the atavistic fringe that gave us Trump.
It’s been like seeing a portal suddenly open to an alternative universe where the most unlikely of propositions are treated as truth, and everybody’s got a big chip on the shoulder about it.
I’m not sure who is the link between them all. Occasionally there’s a “personal” note from Ed Rollins, and maybe he’s somehow connected to the others; I don’t know. But there’s definitely a sameness to the messages and rhetoric.
Here’s a typical one that came in today:
Have you heard? I announced that I’m running for the U.S. Senate and I’m asking for the support of strong conservatives like you.
Until I got to the third paragraph in the main text of the message, I had begun to despair of ever learning which state this Ms. Blackburn wished to represent in the Senate. And even that was just implication; she didn’t actually say she would be representing Tennessee. (By the way, when I covered Tennessee politics back in the ’70s and ’80s, Tennessee “conservatives” didn’t carry cards to indication their inclinations. Must be something new.)
Maybe she’s downplaying that because she isn’t planning to represent Tennessee other than technically. Obviously, she seeks to represent instead the adherents of an extremist national movement — an artificial, virtual community that could not have existed before the Web.
To someone thus oriented, geography is incidental. It’s about the… I almost hesitate to call it “ideology,” because that suggests there are ideas involved, which implies thought. This woman’s campaign video is rather a litany of gut impulses and anti-intellectual cliches.
This person isn’t sending me this email because once upon a time (more than 30 years ago) I lived in Tennessee. I’ve never lived in Alabama, and I’m still digging myself out from under Roy Moore emails. And it’s certainly not because of anything I’ve ever done, and absolutely not about anything I’ve ever thought. My concept of an ideal senator from Tennessee is Lamar Alexander, who lies at the absolute opposite end of the Republican spectrum.
No, I’m getting this email because, for some inexplicable reason, I got on a list.
And, the current ideology aside, this offends me as a federalist. As y’all know, I often assert that people who live in other states should elect whomever they want to Congress, and it’s none of my business. I’m been thinking this way since back when South Carolinians used to gripe about Ted Kennedy, and folks in his state griped about Strom Thurmond. My attitude was, if South Carolinians wanted to keep electing Strom until the Judgment Day, that was none of the business of people in Massachusetts. And it was none of our business if Massachusetts wanted to keep voting for Teddy.
(Mind you, I would have liked to have had a viable alternative to Strom — the last such opponent may have been my distant cousin Bradley Morrah, and he wasn’t all that viable — but that was our concern here in South Carolina, and outsiders could butt out.)
This, by the way, is one of reasons I oppose term limits. I think a lot of the support for term limits comes from people who are offended by some of folks other people elect. But other people have the right to vote for whomever they choose.
But I’m digressing now…
For most of the last few decades, this unhealthy interest folks have taken in whom other people elect has taken the form of conventional partisan obsessions. People who care passionately which party controls Congress therefore feel they have a stake in other peoples’ congressional races. Now, this same phenomenon has a new, more virulent, form — it’s become about extreme political subcultures, rather than big-tent parties.
And I’m telling you, folks, it’s not good for the republic…
So late that we’ve only got a day or two left before the cutoff to join the team — to be exact, the deadline is at noon on Wednesday. So that’s, um… just under 49 hours as I type this. (For you non-numbers people, that means it’s just past 11 a.m. on Monday.)
So if you want to help fight breast cancer in the Midlands, this would be an excellent time to step up and join the team. Or join some other team. Or, if you can’t walk, just kick in a contribution.
More than half of Americans don’t think Donald Trump is fit to serve as president, yet he has a clear path to winning reelection. If Trump isn’t removed from office and doesn’t lead the country into some form of global catastrophe, he could secure a second term simply by maintaining his current level of support with his political base.
We have entered a new era in American politics. The 2016 election exposed how economic, social and cultural issues have splintered the country and increasingly divided voters by age, race, education and geography. This isn’t going to change….
Regarding that “splintering the country” part…
Just before reading that, I had seen this headline:
Partisan divisions are not new news in American politics, nor is the assertion that one cause of the deepening polarization has been a demonstrable rightward shift among Republicans. But a more recent leftward movement in attitudes among Democrats also is notable and has obvious implications as the party looks toward 2020.
Here is some context. In 2008, not one of the major candidates for the Democratic presidential nomination advocated legalizing same-sex marriage. By 2016, not one of those who sought the nomination opposed such unions, and not just because of the Supreme Court’s rulings. Changing attitudes among all voters, and especially Democratic voters, made support for same-sex marriage an article of faith for anyone seeking to lead the party.
Trade policy is another case study. Over many years, Democrats have been divided on the merits of multilateral free-trade agreements. In 1992, Bill Clinton strongly supported the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in the face of stiff opposition from labor unions and others. He took his case into union halls, and while he didn’t convert his opponents, he prospered politically in the face of that opposition….
And so forth and so on.
So instead of trying to appeal to all of us people in the middle who are so appalled by Trump, and maybe try to win over some mainstream Republicans who feel the same but don’t have the guts to oppose him, the Democrats are careening off to a place where they will appeal only to the more extreme people in their own party.