Are More State House Resignations on the Way?

December 16, 2015

Inside Insight

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Resignation Letter

Good. Maybe legislating isn’t as fun as it used to be.

Almost exactly one year ago, as readers may remember, Rep. Kris Crawford tendered his resignation from the South Carolina House. Ordinarily the resignation of a politician isn’t news, but Crawford had just won re-election a month before. Now why would a member of the General Assembly put himself through the rigmarole of a campaign only to resign a month after voters sent him back to the State House?

As it happened, and as our own Rick Brundrett explained in a piece published the day after Crawford’s resignation, The Nerve had just “left phone and written messages for him seeking comment on a number of findings … based on a review of his campaign records, annual income disclosure reports and other public records.”

And what were those findings? Among other things, Crawford appeared to have paid his wife a total of $24,215 for “campaign expenses” from his campaign fund. Paying your wife a minimum wage salary for campaign work? One could be forgiven for concluding that such a payment is not very different from dipping into your campaign account in order to give yourself a raise of 25 grand. Read the rest of Brundrett’s findings here.

We mention this partly to remind readers that state lawmakers routinely use campaign funds for purposes that appear to have nothing to do with campaigns – gifts for constituentsclub dueshigh-dollar vacations to Israel, you name it. (Although apparently hearing aid batteries are off limits.)

But there’s another point to be made here, too. When members of the all-powerful South Carolina General Assembly announce their resignation, and when their resignation seems to be a consequence of The Nerve’s work, we take heart. Do we actively try to get them removed, or get them to remove themselves, from office? Certainly not.

It’s simply that we like to see politics cease to be fun for our legislative class. Why? Because politics isn’t supposed to be fun. It’s called “public service” because that’s what it was designed to be, and genuine service is rarely fun. More often it’s tiresome and painstaking and dreary and exhausting, however rewarding it may be after the work is done. And if The Nerve can take credit for making lawmakers just a little bit miserable, we take that as a sign that we’re doing our job.

Forgive us, then, if we crack a hint of a smile at the news of several recent resignation announcements from members of both the House and Senate. Keep them coming. This isn’t supposed to be fun.