Free Times reporter Corey Hutchins really needs to get himself a job at a daily newspaper (before they’re all gone). A weekly publication just doesn’t provide enough outlet for his energy.
Corey calls my attention to another of his freelance pieces, this one for the Center for Public Integrity. It’s about how the rules changed to essentially free up third-party committees to spend whatever they want in SC elections, with no accountability. An excerpt:
In 2010, a little-noticed ruling by U.S. District Court Judge Terry Wooten in Florence, S.C., kicked the regulatory teeth out of a key statute in the state’s campaign finance laws and opened the floodgates for untraceable political spending by many of the groups seeking to influence elections.
The case revolved around a seemingly mundane sliver of minutiae — how the word “committee” is defined under South Carolina law. But the effects of Wooten’s ruling were far-reaching indeed, and that’s likely just how famed conservative lawyer James Bopp — the star of the case — wanted it. In the Palmetto State, suddenly all bets were off when it came to independent expenditures meant to influence elections. And they still are.
“Until we clarify it, it’s the Wild West to a certain extent,” says Wes Hayes, a Republican lawmaker who chairs the S.C. Senate Ethics Committee. “Until we get that clarified we have no law.”
State legislators, ethics regulators and good government groups here haven’t yet been able to put back the pieces — not in last year’s legislative session, and not in the one just finished either.
Unless and until they do, many worry that South Carolina will remain in a state of anarchy in regard to secret money and its effect on campaigns — with a high-stakes election just five months away…
I urge you to go read it. As Corey said in calling attention to it:
Ready to re-live the days of unlimited, untraceable, undisclosed political spending of the video poker barons in the late ’90s?It’s already happening post primary, and is bound to get worse. This story shows why.