Monday, June 16, 2008

Howard S. Rich vs. Gervais S. Bridges

Gervais got a nice note in the mailbox last week. It was a letter from the State Ethics Commission telling me that SCRG president Randy Page’s complaint against me had been dismissed.

This is really good news, because now I have zero pending ethics complaints, which happens to be my target number.

Those of you who’ve been following Barbecue & Politics for about a minute know that I like to skewer Page and the rest of the employees of the “South Carolina” school voucher faction a lot. Usually it has something to do with SCRG being funded by a NYC millionaire whose interest in education only goes as far as diverting funds from public schools in our state.

In fact, other than being a complete sham, I really have no major gripes with SCRG.

Some might say I’m beating a dead horse, but to me it feels more like a piƱata. Except instead of a stick I’m using a laptop. And instead of candy, it’s slimy politics and out-of-state cash that oozes out.

For Gervais, this stuff is fun. And people get all sensitive about it, which makes it even more fun. It has a high Squirm Factor.

But that’s just Gervais S. Bridges. When I’m not using the nom de plume, I like to talk about this stuff too.

I talk about the candidates who got 99% of their funds from out-of-state.

I talk about the phony letters SCRG sent to the newspaper, and the radio ads that mispronounced “South Carolinians,” because I think it says a lot about what’s going on here.

I like to talk about the oaths against public education, the many LLC’s Howard Rich uses to get around our state’s contribution limits, and the guy who was listed as a $1000 contributor to a voucher candidate even though he didn’t give a red cent.

I speak to the people leading the fight against this voucher scheme, and help them articulate the message about what exactly is going on in South Carolina politics, from a blogger's perspective.

I speak to groups of people around the state who just want to know about this stuff.

I’ve even fueled up the truck and driven across the state to have one-on-one chats with real-life SC lawmakers, trying to fix this problem.

Now here’s where I’ll give you a warning. Before you go gettin’ the notion that you’re going to talk to a lawmaker about a problem, you better keep reading.

I’ve discovered that some folks don’t particularly like it when you talk about SCRG being one of Howard Rich’s front groups. And nobody dislikes it more than someone who gets paid $88,000 a year to pretend that it’s not.

So when I got a call from the Ethics Commission a couple months ago letting me know SCRG president Randy Page had filed a complaint against me accusing me of being an unregistered lobbyist, I wasn’t altogether surprised. The truth is, I’ve grown to enjoy the exasperated “you and your blog” look that my wife gives when things like this come up.

Until somebody invents a machine that automatically turns New York money into frivolous complaints and junk mail, this is Page’s job.

And if he thinks it’s a good use of Howard Rich's cash, I’m not going to argue with him.


Anonymous said...

I am not a fan of public education and even I see the dangers of all this out of state money flowing into SC.

It distorts everything.

It should stop.

Thanks for your work.

AHS Slim said...

Well put and keep up the good work!

Anonymous said...

Go get 'em, Gervais!!

Anonymous said...

Who would have thought that in 2008 in South Carolina, truth is still a valid defense! (And it didn't require a 5 to 4 vote.)

Anonymous said...

Mr. Page and company might need to be more careful about frivolous allegations made to State Ethics Commission:

SECTION 2-17-140. Groundless allegations of violations to be stricken from public record; penalties for wilful filing of groundless complaint. [SC ST SEC 2-17-140]

If an alleged violation is found to be groundless by the State Ethics Commission, the entire matter must be stricken from public record. If the State Ethics Commission finds that the complaining party wilfully filed a groundless complaint, the finding must be reported to the Attorney General. The wilful filing of a groundless complaint by a person with the State Ethics Commission is a misdemeanor, and the person filing a complaint, upon conviction, must be fined not more than one thousand dollars or imprisoned not more than one year. In lieu of the criminal penalty provided by this section, a civil penalty of not more than one thousand dollars may be assessed against the complainant upon proof, by a preponderance of the evidence, that the filing of the complaint was wilful and without just cause or with malice.

Earl Capps said...

anon 339 - maybe it's just me, but someone who refuses to comply with disclosure rules has to have a lot of cojones to accuse someone else of ethical lapses.

SCRG's minions have no room to talk when it comes to lecturing people about what is right and wrong in South Carolina. They have no more a clue about ethics than Rich has about what it will take to improve education in the Palmetto State.

Anonymous said...

I heard today, from a very good source, that out of state groups spent $21,000 into data and phone calls on behalf of Katrina Shealy and that none of it is to be reported.

I wonder if Starboard cordinated the calls?

Anonymous said...

Well done, friend. Keep up the fight in exposing these cheap-minded people trying to destroy public education in the great state of South Carolina.

Anonymous said...

SCRG is about to get spanked and Randy Page will be squaling like a pig. It's going to take more than Howard Rich stuffing an apple in that monster's mouth to keep him quiet, too.