Developer cash raises questions about Hutson's ethics

Last fall, Heyward Hutson returned to the State House from the Summerville area, with a campaign largely backed by a local group of anti-growth advocates.

In their zeal to score a win, either the anti-growth crowd didn't realize Hutson was pulling a fast one on them, or they wanted a win so bad they didn't care.

Much of the problem of growth in the Summerville area was fueled by rampant real estate speculation, where people would buy homes and "flip them" outright, or rent them for the short term while they waited for a better offer. There is no small irony in the knowledge that one of those real estate investors is Representative Hutson himself. One of his rental properties is located on Axtell Drive in the Newington Plantation subdivision, not far from Flowertown and Newington Elementary Schools - both overcrowded due to the kind of rampant over-development that Hutson both opposes and profits from.

While that's bad enough, the truth about Hutson just gets worse. He's not just fueling development - he's taking thousands of dollars from real estate developers and their political allies.

Allegations have followed a shadowy campaign by Howard Rich, a New York real estate investor, to pour thousands of dollars into South Carolina campaigns. Wikipedia sources note that he has been adventuring in a number of states in a similar manner. A story from the Washington Post reported that Rich has become a major financier of the "property rights" movement, a term long alleged by growth opponents to be a code phrase for "developer special interests":

“The property-rights movement, as it is known, has a major new benefactor — Howard Rich, a wealthy libertarian real estate investor from Manhattan,” The Washington Post recently reported. “He has spent millions — estimates run as high as $11 million — to support initiatives that will appear on ballots throughout much of the West.”

The Stop Howard Rich SC website has detailed the numerous shell groups through which Mr. Rich has funnelled campaign cash to various South Carolina candidates, including Hutson. Their reports, which can be confirmed via the Ethics Commission website, point to a clear pattern of what is known as "bundling", a practice by which large donations from a number of donors are sent at the same time to candidates.

Such practices are often employed by special interest groups to support candidates known to support their agendas. The Howie Rich Exposed website discusses his record of supporting candidates who are pro-development, under the guise of "property rights".

When we pulled up Hutson's contributor report, guess what we found?

  • 05/16/2008 1,000.00 - 123 Lasalle Associates A Partnership
  • 05/16/2008 1,000.00 - Bradford Management of New York Inc.
  • 05/16/2008 1,000.00 - Pomerantz, Alan J.
  • 05/16/2008 1,000.00 - Rich, Yvonne
When electronic reports were searched on the state Ethics Commission website, these four out-of-state contribution sources all turned up to have made numerous donations to as many as 16 candidates, and have been identifed as part of the "bundling" scheme used to funnel thousands upon thousands of out-of-state dollars to South Carolina candidates.

Voters who are concerned about growth in Dorchester County should be concerned when their Representative is a real estate investor who rakes in big bucks from out-of-state developer interests, while giving them a shallow song-and-dance about their concerns:

"I think people are upset about how their quality of life in Summerville is being changed," Hutson said after the results were announced. "They see the growth out of control and they're insisting on taking charge again. I have recognized, like everybody else in this district, that we need to manage the growth better. We're tired of turning the faucet on full blast without any control."

- Charleston Post and Courier (10/31/2007)

These findings should warn House 94 voters who are concerned about controlling growth that Hutson may not be as virtous, or as honest, as he'd like Summerville voters to believe.

17 Response to "Developer cash raises questions about Hutson's ethics"

  1. Jack 5/6/08 20:13
    As a Republican, aren't you supposed to be for less government and lower taxes? That is the aim of all initiatives supported by Howard Rich. Where's the problem?
  2. pan american highway somewhere in costa rica moye 5/6/08 21:38
    When you going to answer that dude Earl.
  3. pan american highway somewhere in costa rica moye 5/6/08 21:39
    When you going to answer that dude Earl.
  4. Evelyn 5/6/08 21:58
    Mr Capps -
    We do own the house on Axtell Dr. It was purchased in 1971 so the 4 kids and I could live there during the second Viet Nam tour.
    Please tell me what is wrong with this? Should we not have had a decent home for that year? We moved back into that house in 1985 and lived there for 8 years. IMHO that is not exactly real estate growth.
    In what capacity have you served your country? We have FOUR generations who have protected your freedoms. Can you say this??!! And now the war is raging in 'lil 'ole Summerville. Pray the guy in the white hat prevails.
    There are many half truths being told. I would prefer a Representative who tells the whole truth. I would also like to share with you the truth. If you beleive these half truths you do not know who we are and what we stand for.
    I am disappointed in people who use and support these tactics.
    Only a coward would not print this - I am curious to see where you fall.
    Evelyn Hutson -
  5. Calhoun Fawls 6/6/08 00:22
    Howard Rich is not for Republican values, he is for his own narrow agenda that benefits his investments in private school companies and private bus companies.

    While he has tried various campaigns around the nation, his folks see SC has ripe for a complete takeover.

    A man like Howard Rich does not invest money unless he plans to get money out of his investment.
  6. Earl Capps 6/6/08 01:22
    Mrs. Hutson, or whoever you really are, your arrogant and condescending statements do little distract from the facts at hand. But since I’ve got at least as good a hand as you do, I’ll play my cards – even though it’s not likely going to make you answer the questions which have been presented.

    After you moved out, you could have sold the house, but instead, your husband now profits off real estate as much as any realtor or developer. You could have stayed there, but instead you did what thousands of others are doing – moved to a bigger house in Summerville. THAT is exactly what fuels the development.

    Personally, I don’t have the hate trip y’all have against realtors and developers, or people who aren’t from around here, but I’m curious how y’all think you can have it both ways. Other people are bad for doing what you’re doing. Why is that?

    Your attacks against me and my family were rather cheap, and were no doubt intended to distracted from the questions I’ve raised, but I’ll answer them anyway. But when I was growing up, I couldn’t help but notice a lot of officer’s wives were petty and cheap, so I’m not surprised.

    While you were living in Newington Plantation, with an officer in the Army, my father had just been drafted and lost a good job as a TV studio technician. With what draftees were paid at the time, my mother and I had to spend the first two years of my life living with my grandmother. We were one of the many military ENLISTED families on food stamps, and would have killed to have the “tough” middle class accommodations that officer’s families like yourself had.

    My father served in the Army during Vietnam as an MP, and then spent 28 years as a cop with the City of Charleston. His father, William Capps, Sr., was infantry in Europe during WW2. He came home to work in the shipyards, as did my uncle, Clyde Chassereau. My mother’s father not only worked in the shipyards as a pipefitter, building ships for the war effort, he was one of thousands whose work killed them, via asbestos exposure.

    I would argue that John Bailey died for his country, having given his life to help build dozens of ships during WWII. Since his lungs were shredded by asbestos fibers, not German or Japanese lead, his family didn’t get the great benefits which were given to the survivors of combat veterans.

    My grandmother, Marguerite Altman Bailey, helped start the present-day school at First Baptist Church downtown. My great-grandfather, the Reverend Jessie Earl Bailey, DDiv, was the pastor of Rutledge Avenue Baptist for nearly two generations – once the largest church in uptown Charleston.

    So that’s at least four generations of my family doing their part for their country, as well as the Lowcountry, but we go back farther than that. During the Civil War, my ancestors were burned out of their Lowcountry home by Sherman’s troops, as other relatives were away, fighting for the Confederacy. I’m proud of the state and nation they helped build, and hope what I’ve lived up, at least partially, to their expectations.

    As for me, I met with an Army recruiter in 1989. Due to the fact I had not finished high school and did not have 25 quarter hours of college credit, I couldn’t get in. Had I entered, I would have been enlisted, like everyone else in my family who has served. But in the numerous community and academic organizations in which I serve, and have served, I hope I’ve been able to offer something useful in the place of military service.

    But even if I didn’t have that heritage, it doesn’t give me any less right to speak up, or make you somehow better than I am.

    If you don’t like your husband getting called out as being a liar who profits off development and takes developer cash, that’s too bad. Maybe y’all shouldn’t spend so much time playing holier-than-thou. And if you don’t agree with what I have to say, maybe next time, you’ll answer the questions presented instead of trying to go for the jugular.
  7. Earl Capps 6/6/08 01:26
    Jack, we generally are, but many of us Republicans are not anarchists either.

    The legitimate role of government is to address those needs which cannot best be addressed through the free market.

    History has vindicated the arguments of those who believed a quality education should be provided universally for a society to be both free and prosperous.

    The tax credits supported by Rich and his front groups may seem consistent with the free-market principles that are near and dear to many in the GOP. However, there is much to suggest they would move us farther away from that goal, not closer.
  8. Longbow 6/6/08 01:55
    Don't let the nuts get to you Capps. I fly blackhawks and apaches and will be going again to Iraq, but I don't think you are less of a man or don't have a right to comment like Hudson thinks.

    My grandfather raised me. He did not serve in the military. He had polio. He was about the bravest man I have met.

    Don't let the jerks get to you. Just say a prayer for us forward deployed.
  9. Jack 6/6/08 07:29
    The legitimate role of government at the federal level is to exercise those powers enumerated for it in our constitution. State government should likewise be limited, but those are issues for another post.

    One rental house does not make a real estate speculator. A quick review of Jenny Horne's disclosure filings reveal donations of at least $7,250 from lawyers and $5,650 from real estate and construction entities, including $1,000 each from Pratt Realty, SC Realtors PAC and SC Builders PAC. That's over three times the amount you're so worked up about. As far as I can tell, ALL DONATIONS FOR BOTH CANDIDATES ARE PERFECTLY LEGAL!
    The source of your comments on Howard Rich were the Shealeys. Enough said about the election ethics of those two. I think both candidates for the District 94 seat are fine people, but this post was out of bounds, and I'm disappointed that Jenny Horne would stoop to this level.
  10. Anonymous 6/6/08 08:31
    Earl, you have no idea what you're doing. This guy is a joke in the House - always an excuse, always something.

    If you get an answer, it will be some condescending statement that says you're not as good as they are, haven't lived there long enough, or something.

    That's what he always does. The man is a bully, and people like him have ruined Summerville. Why do you think they have no industry there? No company in their right mind would deal with the dammed fools.

    Good write-up though. You hit the nail on the head. Now watch them holler like stuck pigs.
  11. Earl Capps 6/6/08 08:42
    Jack, I'm not affiliated with Jenny Horne or her campaign. In fact, her and I only spoke to each other for the first time several weeks ago.

    My sources included a number of websites published from outside of South Carolina, the Washington Post, and the State Ethics Commission. Are you saying the Shealys work for the Post and Ethics Commission too?

    Maybe you can't imagine a place where someone truly is a free agent and calls it like it is without feeling any need to be part of a faction. But that's who I am.

    I'll agree with you that those contributions are legal, but the difference is honesty. Heyward bashes developers and says they have no right to hold public office because they have "conflicts of interest".

    I did not question the right of a private citizen to buy a home or seek a profit off of it, even though he has. I did not say one's status as a real estate developer or connections to them disqualifies them from public office, even though he has.

    I simply pointed out the inconsistences between what Heyward says and what he does.
  12. Anonymous 6/6/08 09:31
    earl, we have proof you hacked the ethics commision website to post those reports. hutson is a man who would never lie, or take money from out of state interests or developers.

    remember, hacking is a crime, and you will go to jail for that. i can't wait to hear your screams coming from the jedburg jail, bitch.
  13. not the bitch in jedburg 6/6/08 11:33
    Geez Earl, the moonbats have never used the ethics commission's website to look up contributors adn donations. Would the be as astounded to know how really anonymous they are to the guy that runs the blog?

    Last time I heard, some threats were adequate grounds to make the poster a cellmate of a serial sodomist.
  14. Earl Capps 6/6/08 11:39
    Unless a threat is acted upon, I wouldn't narc out an anonymous poster, even if they're posting in the heat of the moment. Maybe the P&C can do that to Frank Hunt, but I'm not gonna do that to my readers.

    If I allow them to post anonymously, then I be morally obligated to respect their confidentiality.
  15. anonymous in costa rica 6/6/08 11:50
    you mean you would not out me if i went anonymous on you
  16. Anonymous 12/7/08 10:41
    I don't always agree with you, Earl. In fact, I don't know anyone that I always agree with, but I enjoy reading your blog. Keep up the good work. As far as the personal attacks, you are smart enough to disregard them. As far as Evelyn, how exactly does your various relatives' service in the military mean that you have done jack shit in the service of our country? My dad was a Colonel in the Air Force and spent almost 30 years defending your right to say stupid things. The fact that he served gives me NO right to tout his service and some how impute that patriotism as me having somehow contributed. At the very best, I will agree that the sacrifices of military families are very under recognized. All three of my parent's children were born while my dad was racking up over 3000 combat hours over SE Asia...don't remember anyone ever recognizing her for that or me or my brothers receiving any recognition for having to attend 8 different schools and live in 8 different states over the course of Dad's career. Believe me, we may not get any recognition for it, but it was a sacrifice that we had to make and we made it without question.
  17. Earl Capps 12/7/08 15:20
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts, friend.

    I'm pretty respectful for those who've served. My late ex-father-in-law was one of the greatest Americans I've ever known, in part for 30 years of service in the USAF.

    In fact, even though I never served, I still normally call anyone who served as a General or Admiral "sir". If we can't respect and honor those who serve and have served, we are not worthy of having the free Republic they have given us.

    You're right - the families do a lot. I've got someone in my office whose husband is USAF and when he's overseas on duty, she is very much on duty as a virtual single parent.

    She's sacrificed for her country, and do did my grandfather, who died from asbestos exposure as a result working on dozens, if not hundreds, of USN vessels that were built in the Charleston Navy Yard during WWII.

    Thousands died and many more suffered as a result of that exposure, but the arsenal of democracy was kept well-stocked and our nation was kept safe.

    Many stand guard, but we often fail to recognize those who stand behind them.

    Keep coming back for more.

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