November 15, 2019

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Ties to lawmakers present in judicial screening hearings; records kept secret

south carolina judicial department, judiciary

By RICK BRUNDRETT As a sitting S.C. Supreme Court justice, George James is first up Monday in a series of screening hearings by a legislatively controlled panel that will determine whether he and other lower-court judges will be nominated for election in the General Assembly. James, who is seeking his first full 10-year term on […]

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November 14, 2019

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Throwback Thursday: Harrell’s Indictments – What They Didn’t Include

Gavel on Money

Five years ago last month, former S.C. House Speaker Bobby Harrell pleaded guilty to six counts of misuse of campaign funds, and agreed to resign his speakership and House seat. According to the Richland County indictments, Harrell, who received three years’ probation, claimed campaign-fund reimbursements for legislative travel in his private airplane, though some of […]

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November 13, 2019

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S.C. lawmakers spending campaign funds on favorite charities, other ‘gifts’

state house

By RICK BRUNDRETT During this year’s legislative session, S.C. Sen. Hugh Leatherman spent a total of $14,769 for constituent “gifts” through ChemArt, a Rhode Island-based ornament company, plus another collective $1,364 for constituent meals at the upscale Palmetto Club near the State House – all paid for with campaign funds, records show. The Florence County […]

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November 8, 2019

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S.C. lawmakers paying for trips to Egypt, other countries with campaign funds

By RICK BRUNDRETT As many as 17 S.C. lawmakers traveled to Egypt last month, most of whom paid their way with campaign funds, State Ethics Commission records show. Two legislators who used campaign money for the trip – Reps. Todd Rutherford, D-Richland, and John King, D-York – also tapped their campaign accounts for costs related […]

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November 7, 2019

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Throwback Thursday: 2020 Budget Kickoff – Why Process Matters

dollars coat of arms

The 2020 budget process officially began this month, with agency budget requests due to the governor by Nov. 1. According to news reports, lawmakers are likely to have at least an extra $1 billion to spend in the 2020 budget – in addition to the $350 million surplus leftover from the previous fiscal year. Unfortunately, […]

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November 6, 2019

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Millions from civil settlements paid to S.C. AG’s Office, outside law firms

By RICK BRUNDRETT Over the past four fiscal years, the state Attorney General’s Office settled 33 civil cases against various companies for a total of nearly $210 million, though agency records show that the proceeds typically didn’t go directly to affected South Carolina consumers. Instead, most of the money was used by lawmakers to help […]

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October 31, 2019

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Throwback Thursday: Not all state agencies comply with FOIA requests

Freedom of information act South Carolina

This week a lawsuit filed by Sen. Dick Harpootlian over the Department of Commerce’s refusal to disclose records regarding two corporate incentive deals received a court hearing. During the hearing, Commerce Secretary Bobby Hitt defended the agency’s disclosure policies and stated that Harpootlian was the first to challenge Commerce’s actions in court. The state’s Freedom […]

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October 25, 2019

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Thousands of state employees in the $100K-plus club

By RICK BRUNDRETT In 2018, University of South Carolina head football coach Will Muschamp received a new six-year deal that paid him $4.2 million in the first year and is worth a total of more than $28 million over the life of the contract. His total compensation includes $1.1 million in state salary – the […]

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October 24, 2019

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Throwback Thursday: Rising college tuition tied to increasing higher education debt

A recent study covered by The Greenville News revealed that South Carolina has one of the highest student loan default rates in the country, with over one out of every ten students defaulting within two years of starting repayment. This is just the latest evidence of how increasingly unaffordable higher education is becoming for many […]

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October 23, 2019

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The $4 billion piggy bank hidden from South Carolinians

By RICK BRUNDRETT As state agencies prepare their proposed fiscal 2020-21 budgets, what they likely won’t reveal is the amount of “other” fund surpluses carried over year after year – collectively billions of dollars. As of June 30 – the end of the 2018-19 fiscal year – state agencies and divisions, plus several major state […]

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