Who really cares about fiscal restraint in South Carolina?

Tonight, the Blogland took some time to drop in on the North Charleston hearing held by the State Senate Judiciary Committee's Fiscal Fitness subcommittee.

While we're pleased the Senators took time off from their families and careers to attend the meeting (in attendance were Glenn McConnell, Jake Knotts, Gerald Malloy, Mike Rose and Phillip Shoopman, along with Bonnie Anzelmo and Sara Parrish from Judiciary Committee staff).

What was disappointing was that the Senators and news media people outnumbered attendees at the hearing, in spite of the meeting being publicized via the local news media.

Tim Scott town hall at CofC with Newt Gingrich a full house

Tonight's Presidential Town Hall at the College of Charleston saw former House Speaker and current Presidential candidate Newt Gingrich fill the college's 700 seat Sotille Theatre (the doors were closed about a half hour before the event as there was no room for additional attendees).

Leading with a short opening speech followed by a Question and Answer session, Gingrich's presentation focused on a number of issues, including education, internet, regulatory and legislative reform, immigration and labor issues were major points of discussion, with plenty of questions coming from College of Charleston students.

Gingrich opened fire early, saying he would defund the NLRB to protect businesses, including Boeing.

He then praised Senator Larry Grooms for leading the state's effort to ramp up its enforcement of immigration laws, blasting the Obama administration's efforts to obstruct Grooms' legislation and promised that he would "side with South Carolina" against litigation filed by several Latin American nations, declaring that "no President has the right to side with foreigners against the people of a state."

Thad Viers playing with funny money?

In his bid for Congress, Myrtle Beach Republican Thad Viers has been making claims about robust fundraising in an effort to establish himself as the early "front-runner" in the race for the state's recently-created Seventh Congressional District. While Viers recently claimed to have reached "the $100,000 mark in just 57 days", reviewing the disclosure report that we received raised some serious questions about how much he is raising and how - as well as how much spin is involved.

Viers' campaign finance disclosure which was filed on October 15 indeed shows his campaign account received $113,996.83, but the report also shows that much of that came from Viers himself. Nearly thirty thousand of what he raised was in the form of a campaign loan and in-kind expenses by the candidate. Subtracting this amount would reduce his total to a much less robust number.

A review of his donor records also raised questions among some we spoke with he may be channeling additional funding through other individuals to create the impression his base of support is larger than it might really be. The practice of funnelling contributions, where money is passed through third parties to give to the campaign, has come under some scrutiny in South Carolina in recent months and it is highly illegal in federal campaigns. Earlier this year, a Delaware resident was convicted for funneling money into a number of Democratic campaigns, including that of Vice President Joe Biden, and a former lobbyist in Ohio was sentenced to 27 months in prison for making hundreds of thousands of dollars in illegal campaign contributions.

Viers' campaign was contacted and asked to discuss these observations, but we received no response.

Charleston school board RINO recruit

As soon as former Charleston County School Board member Mary Ann Taylor resigned her post to protest a planned 2400% pay increase for school board members, the RINO herd on the board began working to replace Taylor with someone more agreeable to their agenda of co-opted conservative rhetoric combined with liberal policy moves.

Their goal: replace Taylor with someone more agreeable to their agenda: Charleston Democrat Henry Copeland.

Copeland, a member of the Charleston County Democrat Party's executive committee, is being pushed by RINO school board member Elizabeth Kandrac. Kandrac talked like a conservative, but came under fire for having the largest expenditures for any school board member and joined in the failed push for the pay raise.

Guest Cartoon: Waltons - Puss in Boots

Ron Paul no-show on Balanced Budget Amendment vote

Today's vote on a constitutional amendment mandating balanced budgets carried a large majority in the House - 261 for and 165 against, but fell 23 votes short of the required two-thirds majority needed to pass a Constitutional amendment.

In spite of campaigning for President as a strong fiscal conservative, House member Ron Paul (R-TX) was one of two Republicans who did not cast a vote on the amendment at all.

What's up with that?

Michele Bachmann, the other House member seeking the GOP nomination for President, returned from campaigning for the White House to vote for the amendment.

While the amendment was supported by the Democratic Blue Dog coalition, including many who represent swing and GOP-leaning districts, past BBA supporters in the current Democratic House leadership - Steny Hoyer (MD) and Jim Clyburn (SC) - joined the majority of House Democrats who voted against it.

Sec. of State Mark Hammond's 2011 Angels and Scrooges list

Carrying on a tradition started by his predecessor, Secretary of State Mark "Dirty Harry" Hammond announced this year's "Angels and Scrooges", identifying those registered charitable organizations who devoted the largest, as well as smallest, shares of their revenue towards their programs.

It's interesting to note that while eight of the ten Scrooges were based outside of South Carolina, eight of the ten Angels were based in-state.

The Angels must devote 80 percent or more of its total expenditures to charitable programs; the charity must have been in existence for three or more years; the charity must make good use of volunteer services; and the charity must receive minimal funding from grants. Each year the Secretary of State’s Office attempts to showcase Angels with diverse missions, from across South Carolina and outside the state.

The Scrooges failed to spend a high percentage of its collections on stated program activities and/or use of a high percentage of collections to pay professional solicitors. The charities designated as this year’s Scrooges are listed below, along with the percentage of expenditures used for program services. Those recognized are listed in alphabetical order, and are not ranked by the Secretary of State.

So who were this year's good guys and bad guys?

Don't say we didn't tell you so

One of the most audacious power grabs in recent years in Lowcountry politics fell short tonight - with Charleston RINO Elizabeth Moffly leading the failed charge.

A proposal pushed by Moffly, who was elected to a seat on the Charleston County School Board last fall after a second failed bid for State Education Superintendent, would give Charleston County School Board members a whopping 2400% percent raise in their salaries, taking their pay from $25 per meeting (roughly $600 a year) to $15,000 a year. By comparsion, the most highly-paid school board members - in Horry County - get paid $9,600 a year.

In the losing 3-5 vote, Moffly was joined by Chris Collins, who lost a recent challenge to North Charleston Mayor Keith Summey and fellow RINO Elizabeth Kandrac.

The strongest voice against the proposal came from long-time Republican Mary Ann Taylor, who was elected along with Moffly last fall and resigned from the school board in protest tonight. While we wouldn't have endorsed her resignation, we certainly understand why she did it and believe she did the right thing in opposing the raise. Sources we've talked with indicated the proposal failed because of the high level of attention Taylor's resignation drew to the proposal.

This move leaves Charleston Republicans, who expressed their disgust with Moffly in tonight's meeting of the Charleston County GOP, with egg on their faces as some of their leadership backed her for the school board last year.

Mark your calendar: This Saturday - Lowcountry GOP Breakfast club to feature Presidential stump rally and straw poll

This Saturday, from 9:00 to 10:30 am, the Lowcountry GOP Breakfast Club in Summerville will be holding a stump rally and straw poll for the Presidential candidates. They'll be meeting at Kellys BBQ, which is located at 10475 Highway 78 in Summerville, about two miles south/east of the US 17 Alternate intersection with US 78.

At the present time, representatives from each campaign except Jon Huntsman and Mitt Romney have confirmed they'll be there, so expect a big turnout.

Only those candidates who participate will be listed on the ballot, along with "None of the Above" and ballots will be limited to paying attendees only ($1.00 for coffee and $7.25 for the breakfast buffett). Also, there will be prizes given away throughout the event.

You don't want to miss this event. We'll be there.

GOP seeking to flip House District 44?

Last year, Lancaster County's Democratic State Rep. Jimmy Neal saw his first challenge in years, coming in under sixty percent against an underfunded political first-timer. Having held the seat since winning a special election in 1999, speculation that Neal may be retiring next year is drawing interest by the GOP in trying to pick the seat up.

Between a unexpected strong challenge to Rep. Neal by Rob McCoy (who went on a few months later to lose a primary bid for the State Senate seat vacated by Congressman Mick Mulvaney) in the general election, and Mulvaney carrying Lancaster County by a comfortable margin in last year's Congressional upset, the district appears increasingly competitive for Republicans.

Considering these factors, it's not too surprising to hear that several Republicans are looking at the seat. During a visit to Lancaster last weekend, we talked with a couple of people about the race for the seat and have been told more may be looking at the race.

Republicans fielding primary for Hutto's Senate seat?

Next year, Brad Hutto may face one of several Republican challengers for re-election to his six-county Senate District 40. The Blogland has learned that three Republicans are looking at running for Hutto's seat: Barnwell County GOP Chair Ben Kinlaw, Orangeburg County GOP Chair Jim Ulmer and Bill Connor, who ran a close second-place finish in the GOP run-off for Lt. Governor last year.

Among those we talked with was Kinlaw himself, who said planning was underway. He criticized Hutto, telling us "there is no other state senator that is a greater roadblock to the progress of our state, than Brad Hutto, he has to go."

Visiting Lancaster, Florence & Darlington

The Blogland hit the road last weekend to see what was going on across South Carolina, hitting three political events Saturday afternoon and evening across the Pee Dee and Upstate in Lancaster, Florence and Darlington.

As always, we greatly appreciate the hospitality shown by the folks across South Carolina. Just about anywhere we go, we find friends and make new ones along the way. This Saturday run was certainly one of those kinds of weekend getaways.

Blogland on Facebook

Just a plug for the Blogland's Facebook webpage. Lots of short thoughts and story leads, the "story behind the story" kind of stuff, as well as some inside chat about what's going on in the Blogland, can be found there. Check it out and follow us.

Guest cartoon: Waltons - "Reagan to Obama"

More guest artistry from Jamie Walton of Rock Hill.

As always, submissions of drawn or written editorial content are accepted for publication from Blogland readers if sent via email to earl@earlcapps.org.

Big legislative shake-up looming in the Grand Strand

With redistricting and several incumbents leaving, the Georgetown and Horry County legislative delegations could send at least a half-dozen new faces to Columbia after next year's elections. This region's political clout in Columbia has steadily grown since the 1970s, picking up a new House district each of the last four redistricting cycles, as well as the gradual shift of the majority of Senate District 28, once entirely in the rural Pee Dee, into Horry County.

While Myrtle Beach State Rep. Alan Clemmons opted to remain in his State House seat instead of seeking the new Seventh Congressional District, at least four other Grand Strand House seats are epected to be vacant when filing time rolls around in March (pending approval of the State Senate districts):
  • House District 56. This new seat was shifted to Horry from Chesterfield and Darlington Counties.
  • House District 68. This Myrtle Beach seat is being vacated by Thad Viers who is running for the 7th Congressional District seat, who has held the seat since it was moved from the Pee Dee in the 2001 redistricting cycle.
  • House District 104. This North Myrtle Beach seat, held by Tracy Edge since 1996, may be vacated should he follow through on rumored plans to challenge Democratic State Senator Dick Elliot.
  • House District 108. After scoring an upset win over long-time Democratic Rep. Vida Miller last year, Republican State Rep. Kevin Ryan decided not to seek a second term next year.
While a large crop of candidates is likely to contest these open House seats, expect to see other new faces on the Georgetown and Horry delegations from other House and Senate districts.

Mark your calendar: Darlington GOP fundraiser this Saturday evening

If you're in the Pee Dee region this weekend, the Darlington County GOP is holding a fundraiser variety show for just five bucks. Go show your support for a great team and help them raise some much-needed campaign cash.

The event is this Saturday at the The Music Hall on 1133 Harry Byrd Highway in Darlington. It starts at 6 PM and tickets are just five bucks.

The Blogland will be there, so be sure to say hello!

Mark your calendar: Lancaster Tea Party rally this Saturday

Beginning at 12:00 Noon, the Lancaster Tea Party, one of the state's largest Tea Party groups, will hold their annual fall event at the gymnasium of the Carolina Christian Academy. The Blogland will be there as well.

The event will feature special guest Hilmar von Campe, author of Defeating the Totalitarian Lie, as well as visitors from a number of campaigns and Republican Party leaders from across the region.

The event will be held at the Carolina Christian Academy. It's located at 1850 Kershaw Camden Highway (U.S. Route 521), Lancaster, SC 29720-7559.

This group never disappoints, so if you're in the region this weekend, you don't want to miss this event!

Visiting Occupy Wall Street

Fellow blogger and Florence County GOP Chair Bill Pickle visited New York City last week, bringing back his reflections from a visit to the Occupy Wall Street bunch. He's written about the visit on his blog In The Pickle Barrel:

Like many other "protest", they are very unorganized as far as getting their message out to the public. I believe there is a difference between protesting just to be protesting and protesting with a definite, clearly defined goal(s).

The Occupy Wall Street group is just like most political groups and politicians. Each want to make changes. They state they will make changes. However, most of them lack the "what changes" and "how to make good, sustainable change" in their action plans.

Overall, the article makes for good reading, showing just how poorly-organized the group is - which might explain why some Democrat activists are integrating themselves into the Occupy movement. Lenin's followers did much the same thing in 1917 Russia, eventually toppling more moderate reformers after the Czar's abdication to launch a radical takeover of Russia.