Posts Tagged ‘South Carolinians for Responsible Government


Was Katon in on the hit? (And other thoughts)
Originally uploaded by johnvierdsen

While the national media is content to stay on the story that SCGOP chairman Katon Dawson was a member of all-white Forest Lake Country Club for 12 years (which made the “Rachel Maddow Show“ tonight) before he was forced to resign because of media inquiries (and was an officer of an elite cotillion that had events at the club), there is still way more than meets the eye, when you start looking.

Since The Atlantic’s Marc Ambinder reported Dawson was looking at the RNC chairmanship as early as October 2007, it is no surprise that the party started shelling out the big bucks for plane tickets (On Expedia! On Orbitz! On US Air! Fly away, fly away, fly away to the District!) and hotel rooms in DC that had no direct connection to official party business over the past year.

There is also the issue with the party’s credit cards. Boy, that sure is a nice way to hide expenditures. With certain members of the party in the General Assembly working hard for transparency in state government, why isn’t KD just paying out the money straight, so we all know, and especially party contributors know, where the money is going?

Then there’s the issue with the S.C. Club for Growth plan to take on Republican legislators in the primaries. No national journalist has looked seriously at how divided the SCGOP has been during Dawson’s tenure. Republicans win handily in this state because South Carolina is heavily conservative.

Consider the fact that, according to the “hit list“ proposal, Starboard Communications was supposed to be the consulting firm at the center of operations. Dawson and firm founder Walter Whetsell are considered to be as thick as thieves.

Le Frye (formerly of SCRG) and B.J. Boling (formerly of RQ&A and the McCain campaign) were supposed to be in the middle of things, and moved over to Starboard. The widely-circulated proposal lists the people in the operation.


Josh Gross, former SCCfG executive director, moved over as well, and did mail out of Starboard for the Sandlapper Group’s clients. Don’t forget, Sandlapper, which was founded in November of 2007, is led by Chad Connelly, an SCRG board member, and Taft Matney, spokesman for Conservatives in Action.

Then came Dawson’s puff piece interview with Howard Rich at Dawson’s house (produced by SCRG). Rich heavily funded several of Starboard’s clients and all of Sandlapper’s during the primaries.

How much money has the state party sent Starboard’s way? More than a few bucks, for sure (on both Federal and state accounts):

10/22/08: $67.04 (?)
10/20/08: $53,800.48
10/16/08: $6,851.01
9/26/08: $6,768
8/12/08: $3,186.84
6/26/08: $7,130.96
5/13/08: $19,598.06
3/3/08: $2,500
2/15/08: $2,751
2/1/08: $6,396.21
2/1/08: $8,741.64
1/15/08: $5,165.58
1/15/08: $1,923.76
1/14/08: $467.27
10/11/07: $6,926.23
8/6/07: $2,450
TOTAL: $134,724.08

Wow. That is a nice haul from one client over an election cycle. If the RNC members want someone who will preside over a united party and not pick one side over another, maybe ol’ Katon isn’t the guy.


Darby out at Palmetto Policy Group
Originally uploaded by johnvierdsen

The common thought is that politics is one of the industries that is pretty close to recession-proof, since there will always be elections and legislation.

Well, tell that to J.J. Darby (or John J. Darby III, if you’re nasty), who put out a widely-circulated email today announcing that he would be leaving Palmetto Policy Group. Why would this be? As a lobbyist for PPG, he represented a number of clients, including PPG’s building mates, South Carolinians for Responsible Government.

Word on the street is that Darby had to be let go because — hold on to your asses — NYC libertarian financier and school choice clown Howard Rich is pulling his lobbying cash out of South Carolina.

If this is true, it marks the ultimate referendum on the ’08 General Assembly elections — a significant defeat for Rich and his heimwehren in this state.


The battle begins anew
Originally uploaded by johnvierdsen

In the leadership reorganization in the state House Republican Caucus, the fight inside the party about who will be in control and what path the party will take has entered another chapter.

As has been posted on FITSNews, it was no surprise that Rep. Nikki Haley wanted to be chair of the LCI Committee, and a few weeks ago, Rep. Wallace Scarborough was one of her main opponents. With Scarborough being upset on Election Day, Haley was in position to take over.

If she took over, it would be a big win for the SCRG/S.C. Club for Growth/S.C. Policy Council faction in the party. If Haley was in any tighter with that crew, she would have to wear sponsorship patches on her clothes like a NASCAR driver.

But, something funny happened on the way to the State House.

Under a plan bringing more power to the Speaker, Bobby Harrell picked Rep. Bill Sandifer to lead the committee. What’s really got to give Howard Rich’s foot soldiers the red-ass is that Sandifer was one of the targeted people on the Club’s “hit list,” then blew out Sandlapper Group client Ed Rumsey, 72-28.

This should make for a fun session. It’s also a loss for Gov. Mark Sanford, who becomes a lamer lame duck as the clock ticks toward 2010.


HD-79 set to turn from red to blue (maybe)
Originally uploaded by johnvierdsen

The retirement of Rep. Bill Cotty in HD-79 (Columbia/Northeast Richland/Kershaw) looked, at the first glance, to be a bad thing for House Republicans. Also, it’s always a shame to lose a good guy in the General Assembly, no matter what party they are or what their ideology is (or lack thereof).

Before he retired, Cotty expressed that if he did step down, it would mean that the district would likely go Democratic in the next cycle. Community organizer and political consultant Anton Gunn, who gave Cotty a run for his money the last time, announced for the seat.

Gunn, having been a leader in Sen. Barack Obama’s big win in the South Carolina Democratic Primary, had then, and still has, a lot of people believing that if the seat can be flipped, he’s the guy to do it.

The Republican Primary battle for the seat was a little strange. Sheri Few, a leader of S.C. Parents Involved in Education, an SCRG ally and a first-class nut, seemed like she would get the nomination, what with her money and initial showing. But, in the runoff, moderate (well, anybody put next to Few looks moderate) David Herndon pulled the upset. Few’s people didn’t get out to vote, and Herndon put together an excellent GOTV operation.

Now, Republicans that may have crossed over in the event of a Few nomination could be staying with the party. Plus, no one can discount Herndon’s ground game after his performance in the runoff. Going into the last of the disclosures (Oct. 15 reports), Gunn leads Herndon in cash-on-hand by 2-to-1, and has been massively outspending his opponent.

It still remains to be seen whether Gunn, in what should be his bailiwick, can combine a good ground game with his money advantage, and whether Herndon can keep district Republicans at home while recreating his runoff upset.

David Herndon (R)
3Q $ raised: $14,085
3Q $ spent: $9,289.16
Cash on hand: $5,024.48

Anton Gunn (D)
3Q $ raised: $43,215.23
3Q $ spent: $58,131.68
Cash on hand: $11,410.03


Vierdsen makes ‘Brad Warthen’s Blog’

It’s nice to see The State is so interested in Vierdsen. By the way, it’s also nice to see that South Carolina’s Clown-in-Chief is tweaked, as well.

Who (if anyone) is John Vierdsen, and why does he want to be my ‘friend’? [Brad Warthen’s Blog]


SCRG spokesman threatens to leave the party
Originally uploaded by johnvierdsen

Reports coming out of the Big Top on Devine Street have it that SCRG spokeman Neil Mellen is a little pissed off at the amount of direct mail he’s been getting from the state Republican Party.

It’s understandable — direct mail is the [insert green, leafy vegetable here] of politics. It’s a very needed and effective tactic, but like spam and phone calls, can irritate people.

Vierdsen has been told that Mellen, in a response to the state party, threatened to leave the party and max out his contributions to Democrats if the mailings continued.

Of course, this is the guy that brought the ACLU into VMI, so it wouldn’t be the first time he’s been involved with lefties.

Either way, it sounds like Katon’s been pretty zealous in hitting the print button.


Scott Singer accepts more Howard Rich money, returns some
Originally uploaded by johnvierdsen

Scott Singer, who lost to Tom Young in the Republican primary for S.C. House District 81, was one of SCRG’s and S.C. Club for Growth’s patsies to get into the General Assembly and wreak havoc. He got plenty of cash from Howard Rich and his associates, then came out in July and said that he would return all but $3,000.

Yeah, maybe not.

In his third quarter disclosure filing, Singer does return $12,000. The problem is, he received $21,000 from Rich & Co., which leaves the balance at $9,000. Then, on July 25, he took in $5,000 more.

That’s $14,000 – just a little more than what he said three months ago. Maybe he thought nobody would pay attention. Too bad.

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