Thursday, April 17, 2008

Thursday THRASH Award: SC Association of Taxpayers (updated)

According to the latest Winthrop/ETV poll, South Carolina taxpayers overwhelmingly want to raise our lowest-in-the-nation, seven cents per pack cigarette tax. And fortunately, there’s an association which represents the views of taxpayers and lobbies the General Assembly on our behalf. That’s the good news.

The bad news is that the association is currently being co-opted by Big Tobacco.

That group, the North – er, SouthCarolina Association of Tobacco – er, Taxpayers was busted last month for using cash and lobbying materials from the tobacco industry. From The State’s “R.J. Reynold’s stealth move,” 3/3/08:

The message began showing up in mailboxes last week in the form of 10,000 postcards sent to Republican activists by the South Carolina Association of Taxpayers…

Several Senate staffers said the chart on the postcards is the same chart that R.J. Reynolds lobbyists were showing some state senators in weeks prior…

The postcard also warns that the “hospital industry and insurance company special interests want Legislators to raise your taxes!”…

“We got some donations,” Weaver said, when asked if R.J. Reynolds paid for the postcards. “We get a lot of corporate donations, let’s put it that way.”

Um, this might go without saying, but R.J. Reynolds couldn’t give a flying trapeze artist about our tax policy in South Carolina. I suspect what they care about is their profits. And they’re using a non-profit to get their profits.

Update: Somebody slipped Gervais an email to let me know that the SC Association of Taxpayers is not a non-profit, and sure enough I can't find SCAT on the SC Secretary of State website anywhere. According to the SCAT website, it is "an independent, privately funded research group whose purpose is to encourage government to work more efficiently." Let me pare that down for you: Advocacy for Hire.

Using Big Tobacco money to mail out Big Tobacco propaganda to South Carolina voters under the name of a South Carolina group doesn’t seem right. Gervais says, next time, tell 'em to send it under their own name.

For selling out its credibility, the SC Association of Taxpayers wins the second Thursday THRASH award.

The Howard Rich Advocacy & Shilling for Hire (THRASH) awards were created to honor South Carolina political advocacy groups that are controlled by, funded by, or specifically created by out of state interests under the guise of representing the actual interests and values of actual South Carolinians.


Anonymous said...

Mark Sanford has had 6 years to clean up the ethical swamp that is SC politics.

Instead, he has encouraged the flow of HUGE sums of out of state money into SC. This money, mostly hidden from the average SC resident, has corrupted virtually every major issue of our time.

Sanford's reliance on out of state money is creepy.

Anonymous said...

Much like the Policy Council and the Club for Growth...they will take most anyone’s money and pump out "research" and media releases.

Fortunately, they are like their sisters at SCRG...lazy and usually ineffective.

Poey on them.

Anonymous said...

And this is the group who "honored" state treasurer Curtis loftis with the "friend of the taxpayers" award. What a laughing joke. Be proud, Curtis, so proud. Bwahahahaha! If that's the best you've got, flaunt it.