Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Voucher Week, pt. III: Gunning for Bill Cotty

Okay, so a legislative candidate named Dan Harvell up in Anderson County was almost entirely (86%) funded from out-of-state voucher ideologues. But is 86% really that bad? After all, almost thirty actual South Carolinians, including the “SC” Club for Growth PAC, also contributed to the campaign.

I’m being tongue in cheek. Of course it’s bad. It’s a mockery of the system, and to the extent that many of the "maximum" allowed contributions came from the same individual, of our law. But it could be even worse.

To wit, check out last year’s race(s) for House District 79 in Kershaw and Richland Counties (mentioned by Earl in yesterday's comments). As you may recall, Republican Bill Cotty faced competition in the GOP primary. His opponent was Sheri Few, who had the backing of voucher group SCRG. I don’t have Few’s disclosures, but according to the National Institute for Money in State Politics, over 56% of her contributions were from out-of-state.

Whose deep, lint-filled pockets did this dirty voucher cash come from? Here’s the breakdown:

Howard Rich of NY
123 LaSalle Associates: $1,000
123 LaSalle Inc.: $1,000
Bayrich LLC: $1,000
Dayrich LLC: $1,000
Ashborough Investors: $1,000
Spinksville LLC: $1,000
Spooner LLC: $1000
405 49 Associates: $1000
Bradford Management of NY: $1,000
Silver & Silver Properties LLC: $1,000
West 14 & 18 LLC: $1,000
538-14 Realty, LLC: $1,000

Alex Cranberg of CO
Long Canyon, LLC: $1,000
Walnut Software, LLC: $1,000
Azimuth Energy, LLC: $1,000
Aspect Energy, LLC: $1,000

Other Voucher Enthusiasts
Eric Brooks (PA): $1,000
Donna Brooks (PA): $1,000
Paul Farago (OR): $1,000
Jeff Yass (PA): $1,000
Kermit Waters (NV): $1,000
Joe Stilwell (NY): $1,000
Arthur Dantchik (PA): $1,000
Joseph Rich (NY): $1,000

If all those names sound familiar, it’s pretty much the same handful of out-of-staters who bankrolled 86% of Dan Harvell’s campaign in House District 7. (Few also got $1000 checks from Joshua Gross’s "SC Club for Growth" and from Chad Walldorf, chair of "Reform SC").

But that’s not the real story. Hell, 44% funding from in-state is downright “grass roots” as far as these voucher groups go. And besides, Cotty dispensed with Ms. Few by almost 300 votes, so no big deal.

The general election is when the real fun began in District 79.

SCRG again targeted Cotty, who evidently supports public schools, for defeat in November. The group petitioned a third-party candidate onto the ballot to try to siphon away enough votes to give the election to Democrat challenger Anton Gunn.

Sleazy? Yes. Despicable? Sure. Funded almost entirely from out-of-state? You bet.

Petition candidate Michael Letts’ disclosure, seen here, is nothing short of a voucher lobby masterpiece.

Of the $21,850 reported on this filing, $850 was from within South Carolina. The other 96%? Cash from the out-of-state voucher lobby:

Howard Rich of NY
Howard Rich: $1000
123 LaSalle Associates: $1,000
Ashborough Investors: $1,000
Spinksville LLC: $1,000
405 49 Associates: $1000
Bradford Management of NY: $1,000
Silver & Silver Properties LLC: $1,000
West 14 & 18 LLC: $1,000

Other Voucher Enthusiasts
Eric Brooks (PA): $1,000
Donna Brooks (PA): $1,000
Paul Farago (OR): $1,000
Jeff Yass (PA): $1,000
Joe Stilwell (NY): $1,000
Arthur Dantchik (PA): $1,000

And a couple others. Same handful of out-of-state contributors, same House district, different candidate.

But votes in District 79 don’t come as cheap as some folks think: Letts earned a thousand fewer votes than he did petition signatures, and Cotty edged out his Democratic opposition just under 300 votes.

96% of an SC legislative campaign funded by the out-of-state voucher lobby... For a little perspective, there is more actual fruit juice in a box of Hi-C fruit drink than there was actual SC funding for Mr. Letts.

Can it possibly get any worse than that?

Come back tomorrow and find out. And since Gervais is on his soap box, do me a favor and check out your own "soap box." We're going to see if the "South Carolina" voucher lobby can field a candidate whose out-of-state funding is purer than the coveted yardstick of purity: Ivory Soap. (Go to Part Four)


Swamp Fox said...


Them dag blame, good fer nothing "v" people bagged em another legislator, almost again. It's a good thing thing it's only cash they're throwing around and not hand grenades.

No substance as to why the evil "v" folks are wrong. No blood from shark bites in the water.

I'm just going stay in the water. I'm bored. Call me ashore when you get more cold beer.

Wait.... What's that? Oh nothing important. Just a child from Allendale wishing he had a choice. Shhhhh... maybe he'll just go away.

Swamp Fox said...


believeitnot baby...

the Corridor of Shame is they system brought to us by your guys...

the same system those evil, out-of-state "v" people think is immoral...

pay no attention to that though believeitnot...

Gervais assures us those out of state "v" people are the ones that are evil, not the ones that brought us the corridor...

What's that? Oh just another child from Clarendon waiting choice. Shhhh again... Maybe he'll just go away too.

Children these days have no respect for what they're given. Can you believe it?

Earl Capps said...

While I support school choice, especially in schools which are failing, I don't think our state's offices should be bidding contests.

Especially when such contests are single-issue duels in which perennial candidates get money no rational person here in SC would even think of handing over.

I'm glad you found my work useful, and you'll get a plug in return.

Thanks for the deep insight and great BBQ references. You haven't made a bad recommendation yet.

The Speed of Dark said...

Gervais 2 Scalawags 0

The Voucher Week halftime show follows:

Swamp Rat is typical of the SCRG snake oil salesmen.

He changes the direction of the conversation to avoid the truth that vouchers don't fix anything.

He foolishly jokes to try and trivialize the truth about the voucher scam by making fun of ole'Gervais' excellent reporting.

You can't trust them scalawags for the correct time of day.

As a chum recently pointed out on another blog, the voucher scam conveniently ignores the elephant in the room called latent racism and the 500 pound gorilla on its back named poverty.

Gervais is doing the Lord's work exposing the snake oil salesmen and their evil money changers.

Keep up the good work Gervais!! And take a pint of Maurice's sauce out of petty cash. In fact, we may buy you a whole case.

GKP said...

A cut-and-paste from FITS, in case you missed it there....


I look forward to the discourse on just how much it costs to buy a politician in this state.

My guess is that you will find that the voucher folks gave, at absolute most, $50k to any one candidate.

Anybody could do that. Hell, you could probably do that. In fact, it would be neat to try and do that, give one of them the money, and see if it changed a single vote. My guess is that you would be heartily disappointed in the return on your investment.

As many problems as our Legislature has, selling voucher votes isn’t one of them. The folks who are going to vote for them will, and those who won’t won’t.

Put another way, if it were really that cheap, don’t you think everyone would be doing it?

Think it through. It may be time to try another angle.

Swamp Fox said...

Hey Speedo

I'm proud of you. You uncovered me as a SCRG snake oil salesmen. Never let facts get in the way of a good ad hominem attack, especially when you're clueless.

I also appreciate you pointing out "the truth that vouchers don't fix anything." I know you have support for that. I understand you didn't have time to get around to posting that. Heck, Gervais has had us running in and out of the water all day to avoid those nasty, vile "v" people.

In particular Speedo, we understand that all those "v" people are racists... they gotta be... they must be. These kids are just a fluke. Innovation I: Most students are black. They are poor. And they are scholars. And there's no way something like this would work: Calling all Educational Entrepreneurs - An Idea for a New Public School Model Serving Poor Children.

This is the system brought to you by the folks that run the show now. Now the people that brought you this system aren't racists. You can bet your Speedo on that, Speedo.

Giving kids in the Corridor of Shame a ticket out... now we can't have that... Gervais is pretty darn close now to demonstrating that those evil out-of-state "v" people have come pretty darn close a couple of times to bagging themselves a legislator... and we hate those "v" people... we can't stand those "v" people... we're not exactly sure why... let's see, hmmmm... anyway back to the kids in the Corridor of Shame... they are just going to have to wait just a little while longer... you're on your way to help... I know you really are... and they know it too... and they can't wait... they really really can't.

Speedo, you keep up the fine work... and stay out of the sun... seems to be making you a bit delirious.

Anonymous said...

Hey, swamp fox...what high performing private school are the kids in Allendale going to attend if vouchers become available? Are you and Mr. Rich going to build it? Are you going to move down there to teach at it?

reefer said...

By the way, did anyone note how Ashley Smith, then a lobbyist for SCRG, the big religious-right group, was then shacking up with her boyfriend when that infamous Will Folks Incident went down?

Not that I’m judging her (heck, living with her is far smarter than marrying that arrogant ditz), but wasn’t that a bit hypocritical on their part, or maybe SCRG, or both?

I always marveled how if you shove a door open, and the door hits them and knocks them down, that can be called domestic abuse. Folk should've fought that shit.