Democrats not the first to challenge the Howard Rich agenda

Recently in The State, Ken Campbell of the South Carolina New Democrats tried to take the credit for being the first to take on the corrupting influences of Howard Rich and his front organizations. While he might like for voters to think his efforts were the first and that Republicans aren't willing to stand for ethical campaign practices, nothing could be farther from the truth.

Howard Rich's efforts were challenged long before the fall elections, and Republicans played key roles in those efforts. A group I was part of - Take Back South Carolina - included myself and recently-retired GOP State Representative Bill Cotty on its board. In the fall of 2006, several postings on this blog - hardly a Democratic forum - challenged a number of attacks made by SCRG, a front group associated with Howard Rich.

There are many Republicans who are concerned about the adverse effects of Rich's out-of-state cash and have been working to stop the buyout of our state. In doing so, we also joined with other South Carolinians of many political perspectives. In those early efforts, Mr. Campbell was nowhere to be found, but I'm glad he's decided to join the cause - so long as his motives are sincere.

Odds are that Campbell's efforts would not have received anywhere near as much attention had bi-partisan efforts in the spring not already warned voters and the news media about these well-funded out-of-state efforts. Many of the races in the June GOP primaries where Rich-associated groups targeted their resources, valued at tens of thousands of dollars in each of over two dozen General Assembly campaigns, began losing ground when and wherever information provided by critics of Howard Rich's efforts began showing up in stories and editorials presented by traditional news media outlets. This blog site and my Take Back SC efforts played key roles in getting the word out.

If Mr. Campbell wants to use Howard Rich's shadow groups to score political points on Republicans, that would be unfortunate. But if he wants to work to end the long history of well-funded special interests, like Rich or video poker in the 1990s, bullying state government and misleading voters en masse, then we in the Blogland welcome his help.

5 Response to "Democrats not the first to challenge the Howard Rich agenda"

  1. Anonymous 23/11/08 19:13
    Senator Thurmond Asks,

    Considering that Mr. Rich has never been charged, indicted on any campaign election issue or other, what is it you find yourself so challenged with? If it is the argument that out of state dollars unfairly affect the outcome of agendas or elections? If so please try again, and how many taxpayer dollars came from the education establishments, unions to protect "their" status quo system?

    That anyone could find anything less than respect and praise for a man ready and willing to help those that cannot help themselves with his own money is dumbfounding to the Colonel and me.

    Please our rant, but we were looking for some great blogs to regurgitate, got to get off this dumbass post before we blow a head gasket...
  2. Earl Capps 23/11/08 19:36
    Undisclosed money working through front groups is wrong, be it Fred Collins or Howard Rich. Bundling contributions is wrong, regardless if the money is solicited through Rich, the SCEA or anyone else. - gives a great look at a man and efforts that aren't much cleaner or ethical than ACORN.

    Or as the Motorhead song says: "just because you have the power, that don't mean you've got the right".

    This kind of sleaze gives those of us who support school choice and many other conservative positions a really bad name, so we're going to speak up about it.

    If conservatives had been more outspoken about shady campaign practices and big-dollar buyoffs, we might still be relevant in national politics.

    BTW - you have us a bit confused ... are you Strom Thurmond, a Senator, a website, or who/what?
  3. Mattheus Mei 23/11/08 19:40
    Earl I agree with you, now's not the time for point scoring especially on such an important issue as fixing, preserving and promoting public education here in South Carolina. Thanks for standing up to (mostly) members of your own party on this issue (though the party I identify with is far from clean).

    There's a lot that can be said and done about the issue of public education in the state, one of the first steps that we need to do in the long battle ahead is to work on promoting legislative transperancy. If our legislators votes were on the record they could be held accountable. If they're held accountable they could be pressured into passing meaningful campaign finance reform as well as other ethical reforms which will lead to a more honest conversation about how we (poorly) operate our poublic school system in this state. The answer is not to pull the Sanford approach of attrophying government agencies until a private entity rises to the occasion to fulfil a duty of government, but to serve as honest brokers of the tax payers money and to enact real meaningful reform.
  4. Earl Capps 23/11/08 19:49
    Now hold on Matt ... I still support school choice, but I'm smart enough to know that it alone isn't the answer, nor am I willing to sell out my state or turn a blind eye to unethical campaign practices to allow it.

    Something I learned a long time ago is that few people put money on the table for something, especially rather successful businessmen, if they don't want something in return.

    When someone lays down the kind of money that Rich has, it makes me wonder what it's really all about.
  5. somewhere in augusta 24/11/08 19:59
    I am in favor of school choice also and vouchers also getting rid of public education and making a real business out of it not something the taxpayers just keep throwing money away on

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