Thursday, May 08, 2008

Thursday THRASH Award: "SC" Club for Growth

Why did the SC Club for Growth target Rep. Bill Cotty in 2006?

That’s an odd question to kick off the final Thursday THRASH award, I know. Especially because the SC Club for Growth says it’s definitely not shilling for an out-of-state agenda, which is the entire basis for the THRASH awards.

True, the Club has had some interesting, out-of-state characteristics during its brief existence. The Club's website still features Karen Iacovelli, member of “New Yorkers for Choice in Education,” on its board of directors. She’s most famous around these parts for signing a statement that says she favors “ending government involvement in education,” the pledge of a California-based outfit called the Alliance for Separation of School and State.

And yeah, the last Executive Director of the SC Club was California transplant and blogger Joshua Gross, who thinks "public education is welfare."

But hatred of our schools is a real-deal South Carolina value, people … just like badminton is. And besides, the SC Club has nothing to do with schools.

The SC Club’s mission is fiscal conservationalism, not vouchers. Electing fiscal conservativationists – that’s its thing. Totally independent of out-of-state control.

So naturally, the Club has a PAC that targets candidates who don’t follow their agenda, which, I repeat, is not dictated from out-of-state interests. I can’t say that enough.

So why did the Club for Growth target Bill Cotty in 2006?

The Club recently ranked the Republican representative the 7th most conservative representative in the state. So it doesn’t make a whole helluva lot of sense at first blush.

I wanted to get an answer to this, so Gervais called the SC Club’s executive director, Matt Moore.

What did Matt say? Well, nothing. He wouldn’t talk. I talked to his answering machine a couple times, and then got an email from him offering to answer my questions via email.

Here’s the queer thing: You know how Gervais reached Moore’s answering machine? I dialed 212-1051.

That’s the number for South Carolinians for Responsible Government. For some reason, I suspected the SCRG receptionist could patch me right through to the Club for Growth’s Executive Director, if I asked nicely to speak to Matt.

Just a crazy hunch, but I was right.

You see, SCRG’s founder/financier, New York libertarian Howard Rich, is also the president of "Club for Growth State Action," according to 2008 records obtained from the Virginia Corporations Commission.

"Club for Growth State Action" oversees and supports the 7 state Club for Growth affiliates, like the one we’re lucky enough to have. According to tax filings, Rich has personally served as director of several of these state affiliates, including Arizona, Kansas, and Pennsylvania. (The SC Club’s tax filings are not available online.)

So in 2006, when Howie spent $20,000 on two separate candidates, one in the primary and one in the general election, to try to oust the unsinkable Bill Cotty, the “SC” Club for Growth dutifully did its part to help Rich. After all, he pays the rent.

So why did the Club for Growth target Bill Cotty in 2006? I think it’s obvious. It starts with "v" and rhymes with schmouchers, and Cotty wasn't buying it.

But that's just my opinion. If you really want to know for sure, you can just call 212-1051 and find out. And when SCRG receptionist Maxine puts you through to Matt’s Club for Growth voicemail, let ‘em know the Club is a winner … of the 5th and final 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.


Joshua Gross said...


Note the 2006 Club scorecards, when Representative Cotty scored a D grade (42.13 out of 100 - we were scoring on a curve). Since it was 2006, we didn't have the benefits of knowing that he'd clean up his fiscal act for 2007...

Also, the scorecards were incomplete when we made our PAC support decision (a necessary evil of scheduling primary filing in the middle of legislative session and having a primary one week after session ends). When the Club's Board came to that decision (in fairness, after meeting with both Representative Cotty and his challenger), his scorecard grade was sitting on a solid "F" grade. Only after he start taking his challenger seriously in that election did his voting improve on fiscal issues.

In retrospect, I'm very glad that Rep. Cotty's voting improved to the point of being 7th in the house in 2007, his lack of support for school choice notwithstanding.

Hope this helps explain why the Club took on Bill Cotty in 2006.

Gervais said...

It does help explain it, Joshua, but not nearly as much as the shared office, shared phone lines, and shared boss-man with SCRG:

"In District 79 in suburban northeast Columbia, six-term incumbent Republican Bill Cotty survived a June primary challenge from Sheri Few who was supported by the conservative South Carolina Club for Growth as backing 'free market educational choice.'"

(10/14/06 Associated Press)

Anonymous said...

For what it's worth, there are quite a few other political/lobbying outfits in their same building. I'd bet if you called any one of them they would put you through to another.

Anonymous said...

So Matt Moore only responds to intervew requests via e-mail?

In The State's article about Howard Rich, titled "Bill aimed at out-of-state contributor," John Monk writes that Hpward Rich only responds to interviews via e-mail and not by phone or in person.

Sounds like a job requirement for his followers.

I can just imagine the morning Josh Gross awoke to the phone call from Howie -- "Josh....I want you to move to South Carolina." Bet he looked at his wife and said "Sweetie, He called. Hope you know how to make sweet tea!"

Anonymous said...

Ordinary people have no idea how much out state money flows into SC.

For every dollar we know about MANY more come to this state influence our lives. They come to nonprofits that have loose reporting laws, they come in differnet names and to different accounts. The pay direclty to some venders, and indirectly to others.

It is a scandal with tremendous effect...these guys and their partners have have bought the right wing of our party...and there is nothing we can do about it.

Dane said...

Try this one...and Josh can try and say different if he really wants to be made the fool.

Randy Paige was Chief-Headhunter-in-Charge for the ED position for the SC Club for Growth. Josh wasn't the Clubs first choice.

He set it up and has since failed to "knock'em down".