Monday, August 18, 2008

Barbecue & Politics Spotlight: The Shamlapper Group

Normally I don't write about political consulting firms, because there are enough blogs out there actually written by political consulting firms ... so if there's dirt to be dished, it usually gets dished with the quickness.

However, since unsuccessful State House candidate Kyle Boyd finally disclosed his campaign expenditures this Saturday, over five weeks late, this gives Gervais occasion to discuss the most deceptively named political consulting group in our state: The "Sandlapper" Group.

Boyd, whose campaign was was funded 55% from the LLC's and associates of New York millionaire Howard Rich, relied on the Sandlapper Group in his unsuccessful primary race against Rep. Carl Gullick in June.

So did Jim Whitehead, who got an unbelievable 97% of his funds from Rich and his associates in a loss in House District 83. And so did Ed Rumsey, who got 65% of his funds from Rich and associates in his loss in House District 2.

Trey Whitehurst and Roger Nutt also used Sandlapper in their losses in House Districts 3 and 35. They were each funded about 40% from Rich and other out-of-state education privatization enthusiasts.

Sandlapper also scored a Rich-funded victory: Joey Millwood, whose campaign was funded 65% from Rich's LLC's and associates, won his June primary in House District 38 by nineteen votes.

Sandlapper's candidates lapped up an incredible $25,000 per week from Rich and associates from May 9th to June 12th. Needless to say, these guys didn't let the voters know Mr. Rich was funding their campaigns. Here's the breakdown:

The Sandlapper Group
Candidates: 6
Wins: 1
Average out-of-state funding: 60%
Total Howard Rich funding: $125,000
Howard Rich funding disclosed before election: $12,000
Misleading South Carolina name: 1
It seems that sucking off Rich's teat under a misleading Palmetto State logo is a way of life for Chad Connelly and Taft Matney, the brain trust behind Sandlapper.

Connelly previously earned $63,250 a year shilling for Howard Rich as a director of his front-group "South Carolinians for Responsible Government." (source). Matney is most famous for his involvement in another Howard Rich front-group, Conservatives in Action, which tried to get Karen Floyd elected in 2006.

In other words, these boys might call their new consulting outfit "Sandlapper," but the gravy train they're riding is straight out of New York City.

UPDATE: A couple of commenters mention Chad Connelly's Amway involvement. For a good story about Connelly allegedly bilking a downstream distributor and then threatening to "take care of" him when he protested, see here.