The Power and the Pawns: Transparency issue and so-called "conservative" candidates


One of the key premises of conservative thinking asserts that the laws of the land are to be applied equally and consistently and that no man is above the law. This is why issues such as racial quotas and "hate crimes" are viewed with scorn on the political right - we believe that nobody should be exempted from the laws and standards that apply to everyone else.

Conservatives also say they believe that the ends never justify the means, but in South Carolina, we see blatant hypocrisy on the political right as candidates who rail against legislative incumbents over the need for increased transparency in government turn silent about the lack of transparency by shadowy groups who engage in political attacks on their behalf.

It's conduct we've seen a lot of in recent years and it goes to show how some of those who claim to be the most virtuous may want to take a look at the enemy in the mirror first.

It's no small irony that one of the main targets of this so-called "reform" crowd is Senator Larry Martin, who helped lead the fight for tort reform, a key conservative legislative reform item. It's easy to see how some, such as trial lawyers, would want to get revenge against him and if that's their motive, then they've found a willing pawn in his challenger, former state Rep. Rex Rice, who is itching to make a comeback after losing a bid for Congress two years ago.

But Rice isn't the only one. Joe Thompson, who is challenging Senator Wes Hayes, has been silent on demanding greater transparency for those who fund and coordinate these attacks. So have others.

Maybe it's because they're dishonest, maybe it's because they haven't considered this point of view or maybe they've got some other reason, but I learned a long time ago that when you say you want to change something, then make yourself the example, not the exception. Lead by example, not by sound bite.

I also learned that to really see where someone's coming from, you don't just listen to what they're saying - you listen to what they're NOT saying. The silence of those candidates who are benefiting from the attacks by these undisclosed sources speaks volumes.

One group which is consistent with their rhetoric about transparency and disclosure is Talbert Black's  Palmetto Liberty PAC, which files regular disclosures with the state Ethics Commission, so one can see where the money is coming from and where it's going. If they can do it, so can others - and they should.

If you believe that full transparency with campaign money is the right thing to do, then say it - and be ready to denounce anyone who doesn't play by those rules, even if they're attacking your opponent.

Now ask yourself if you want people with two sets of standards leading the way for ethics reform in Columbia? You'd end up with exceptions and loopholes so big you can test-drive them with a Mack truck - and an open invitation for someone to exploit them to abuse power and bring back the anything-goes atmosphere that existed before Lost Trust.

Those who were around when Lost Trust went down (like myself) remember how lax enforcement and vague language in state laws allowed legislators to wheel and deal with cash, drugs and booze until the feds showed up and hauled off over a tenth of the entire General Assembly. We learned then that the fewer exceptions and grey areas, the better. Recent questions have convinced the Governor and legislators to go back and look at what was overlooked twenty years ago and what might have changed since then.

There's a lot of history to suggest the legislature should be watched with a degree of skepticism on matters of importance, so it would be wise to watch what they do for ethics reforms - and hold them accountable for what they do or don't do. But that anger shouldn't allow people to be manipulated by shadowy groups who won't disclose their backers.

It's reasonable to demand change. It's right to expect results. But don't become a pawn to someone's power agenda in the process, or you may find you'll be worse off than when you started.

3 Response to "The Power and the Pawns: Transparency issue and so-called "conservative" candidates"

  1. Anonymous 3/11/12 16:33
    So how much did Bobby pay you for this story?
  2. lisa pereira 3/11/12 16:35
    Of course some of the "conservative" candidates know full well what is going on. They are wrapping themselves in the mantle of reform to gain advantage in a political version of the game King of the Hill. They have no interest in reform. Just personal power.

    Other candidates are merely blind sheep. Unsure of the political process and unwilling to learn to help enact reform. They just know they don't feel good and are buying snake oil from the first salesman to cross their path.
  3. Allen Olson 4/11/12 11:18
    I couldn't agree more with this article. It is simply amazing how some in the grassroots movement have turned their head when shadowy interests benefit their candidate or issue. I have seen and heard these same individuals rail against outside interests when it didn't fit their agenda, now that it does, they simply accept it as if the ends do justify the means. If you want to be taken seriously, you need to remain consistent.

    Allen Olson
    803-466-7217

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