SC National Security Action Summit

I know some folks might be interested in this event/these speakers.

SC National Security Action Summit

Join policy makers, legislators, law enforcement leaders, and concerned citizen activists for a day of penetrating analysis of national security matters that will help shape the future of SC and our nation as a whole.

Click the link above for details and a list of/bios for the scheduled speakers.

March 3, 2015   Posted in: Uncategorized  No Comments

The “non ethics, resume building” bill that won’t die

The “non ethics, resume building” bill that won’t die. Talbert Black has this to say:

Senator Larry Martin, Governor Haley, and their allies are telling the public that S1 will fix our ethics problems in South Carolina. Nothing could be farther from the truth! S1 will take us backwards.

Fortunately, it was voted down on a narrow 19-24 vote. However, Larry Martin is pulling a procedural trick to have the bill “reconsidered”. That simply means they get a second chance to vote on it again. And because of the public pressure from Governor Haley, I’m being told they expect it to pass when it is “reconsidered”. But I beleive that is only because they haven’t heard from us yet.

That’s why I need you to contact your state Senator today and tell him to vote NO!

Even our “good guys” are under tremendous pressures to vote to reconsider because of the lies and propaganda. That’s why it’s so important that they hear from you RIGHT AWAY!

Please take a look at this fact sheet (below) put out by the SC Policy Council today. And then I have a request. Our Upstate Senators Shane Martin, Lee Bright, and Tom Corbin have taken a S*#^*Storm of criticism because they would not roll over to Larry Martin, or even Nikki Haley when she stomped up to Spartanburg to lash out at them at a recent Rotary Club Meeting. We’ve been silent partners with them, perhaps even thanking them once way back when they first came out in opposition to this piece of crap bill LAST session. I want to ask you … have they heard from you lately – your appreciate for them standing in the gap? It is important to contact the Senators who want to foist this on us, but it is also extremely important that those good Senators who take a lot of heat on our behalf hear from us. STOP what you are doing and send an email now to:

CLICK HERE to send a message to Lee Bright

CLICK HERE to send a message to Tom Corbin

CLICK HERE to send a message to Shane Martin

Both S.1 and H.3722 (omnibus bills in the Senate and House, respectively) would seriously abridge the First Amendment rights of nonpolitical, nonpartisan groups that openly discuss what politicians do with their power. Specifically, these organizations – groups that have nothing to do with elections and campaigns – would be required in some circumstances to disclose the names of their top financial supporters, thus affording politicians the opportunity to cajole and intimidate those supporters.
►Current law: Nonpolitical groups that take no government money can protect the privacy of their supporters. New proposal: Nonpolitical groups that take no government money would be required to reveal the names of their supporters.
Both House and Senate bills (and both versions of the Senate bill) would preserve lawmakers’ power over investigating and punishing each other’s criminal and ethics violations.
► Current law: Lawmakers police their own ethics violations, including some potential criminal violations. New proposals: Apart from outside agency conducting “preliminary investigation,” lawmakers still investigate/punish their own violations. (Fuller explanation here.)
The House bill (H.3722) would actually loosen the laws limiting what politicians can spend campaign money on. Former House Speaker Bobby Harrell was indicted for, among other things, using campaign money to take his family on high-dollar vacations. The House bill would legalize such uses.
► Current law: Lawmakers aren’t permitted to put campaign money to personal uses. New proposal: Lawmakers would be permitted to put campaign money to all but the most egregious personal uses.
Both House and Senate bills would bar lawmakers from using campaign funds to pay fines as a result of criminal violations, but would not bar using campaign funds to pay for criminal defense.
► Current law: Unclear, but lawmakers use campaign funds to defend themselves in criminal matters all the way up to conviction. New proposals: The practice is legalized.
Both bills contain provisions requiring the disclosure of personal income. Both, however, relax reporting requirements on government income – essentially taking the current lax, loosely enforced law and making it even weaker.
► Current law: Lawmakers are required to, but often don’t, report all government income. New proposal: Lawmakers would only have to report government income if they received direct payments.
A bill passed by the House, H.3191, purports to crack down on agencies that stonewall Freedom of Information requests. A closer look reveals that it would allow state agencies to take citizens to court for filing “unduly burdensome, overly broad, or otherwise improper requests” (terms undefined).
► Current law: Agencies can drag their feet and charge exorbitant fees for fulfilling citizen requests for information. New proposal: Agencies couldn’t stonewall and gouge citizens over FOIA requests any longer, but could take you to court for submitting burdensome requests.
Another bill passed by the House, H.3184, would make it a criminal offense to file “groundless” complaints against state judges. Hundreds of such complaints are filed every year, and virtually no known disciplinary action has been taken against any judge in recent years.
► Current law: Complaints may be filed against judges but are almost never acted on. New proposal: Jail time for complaints that are “groundless, willful and without just cause, or with malice” (terms undefined).

March 3, 2015   Posted in: Uncategorized  No Comments

Registration by Party – Catch 22

Shane Martin has some thoughts on the vote against Registration by Party.

Here are my thoughts. It seems our legislators will not do the will of the people on this issue. STOP WHINING about this! Stop shifting the hope for resolution of this problem to entities who cannot fix it (the GOP) or entities who will never fix it and who you cannot impact (the courts).

If this is your priority here’s the plan (oh, and stop making excuses):

#1 selectively identify legislators who work against us on this, do your research.

#2 work NOW to identify a challenger who is electable, can raise funds, can take the time off from personal/business life to spend the first half of every year in Columbia, who has (or can build) name ID, who will work tirelessly and daily for the 6 months (or more) before the primary.

#3 begin now to raise money for your candidate.

#4 don’t kill all your efforts above by “running a grassroots campaign” GET SOME HELP! Find someone who has a track record of winning statehouse elections in South Carolina and hire them in whatever capacity makes sense to your candidate’s campaign.

Okay … Now to Shane’s thoughts:

During the motion period, State Senator Kevin Bryant called for a vote on a Registration by Party bill which was soundly defeated. As usual, there were only a few of us who were in favor of passing such a bill. As long as Democrats are allowed to keep voting in our Republican Primary Elections, then as a state we will continue to elect mostly RINOs. As long as most of our elected officials are RINOs, we will not get registration by party. This is what is commonly called a Catch 22 from the novel by Joseph Heller with the same name regarding bureaucratic conundrums during WWII. At one point in the book, a character states, “Catch-22 says they have a right to do anything we can’t stop them from doing.” It seems we have no shortage of folks living by that rule in Columbia.

March 3, 2015   Posted in: Uncategorized  No Comments

Congressional Republicans Prepare for King v. Burwell

If you’ve been around a while you’ve read a lot about King v. Burwell on our website. Tomorrow begins oral arguments. What will happen if we win? Not a lot of time has been spent on that topic that I can find. Finally a few Republicans are putting together some plans.

RAMESH PONNURU at National Review.com:

Republicans were slow to prepare for King v. Burwell, the Supreme Court case being argued this week about Obamacare’s legally dubious subsidies for insurance purchases in 36 states. Through early February, it seemed as though many Republicans were instinctively falling into one of two opposed but similarly wrongheaded camps. One group was under the impression that a victory for the plaintiffs would spell the end of Obamacare and leave them with no need to do any legislating.

Another recognized the potential for a political backlash if millions of people suddenly saw their health-insurance premiums spike after the conservative justices ruled, but was so fearful of this backlash that it was willing to vote to put the contested subsidies on a firm legal footing and be done.

Over the last month, Republicans seem to have made some progress in coming to a consensus that avoids both of these mistakes. An op-ed by Senators Orrin Hatch, John Barasso, and Lamar Alexander in today’s Washington Post, and another op-ed by Senator Ben Sasse in the Wall Street Journal last week, have outlined a different and better approach: one that protects the affected people from more government-induced disruption to their health-care arrangements while also moving away from Obamacare.

The emerging Republican solution would offer subsidies for the affected people. But it would extend them only temporarily, forcing a renewal of the health-care debate under the next president. It would refuse to resurrect the individual and employer mandates, both of which would be severely weakened by a plaintiff victory. And it would allow people in the affected states to escape many of Obamacare’s regulatory strictures. The federal role in health care would be smaller, the role of state governments and markets larger. The country would be freed from as much of Obamacare as is practicable under this president.

None of this would happen, of course, without a political fight. President Obama would be sure to greet a plaintiff victory with denunciations and demands for a restoration of the status quo ante. That certainty makes it all the more heartening that Republicans are finding some defensible ground on which to stand for that fight.

NOTE: the link above for Ben Sasse only works if you are a WSJ subscriber. HERE is Washington Times article about Sasse’s plan that is available to read without subscription.

March 3, 2015  Tags:   Posted in: Uncategorized  No Comments

New FOIA Fees to be voted on in Wellford TUESDAY

We’ve learned over the years of the finagling that the legislators in Columbia try to work through to make it more difficult for citizens to use the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to gain information about their government and elected officials. Well … seems Columbia’s got nothing on Wellford!

If you live or do business in Wellford, you may want to make a few calls/attend tonight’s city council meeting. CLICK HERE for the Wellford website, I was unable to find details of tonight’s meeting, you may need to contact the city clerk.

Kim Kimzey reports at SHJ

Access to public information may soon cost more in the city of Wellford.

Wellford City Council members will vote Tuesday on a resolution regarding requests for public records under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). The policy would implement fees for staff time and copies, including a minimum $10 charge for all FOIA requests. People also would pay $1 per page for copies that exceed 10 pages (the first 10 pages are included in the minimum charge); $25 per DVD and video; and $20 per hour per employee for staff time. An additional deposit is required for search time that would exceed five hours.

Written requests would not be required if the person making the request appears at a city office to review minutes of public meetings for the preceding six months, police reports for incidents that occurred within the preceding 14 days, or documents identifying inmates for the preceding three months. There is an exception for records involving juveniles. “We’re just making our FOIA procedures mirror those of other towns this size,” Wellford Mayor Tommy Watson said.

If approved, the resolution would take effect immediately.

Watson said the proposed policy is similar to one the town of Blacksburg adopted in September 2013. That policy has similar exemptions for inspecting public records in person, but requires a minimum charge of $3 for all FOIA requests to compensate the town for expenses. A person must pay 20 cents per page for copies exceeding 15 pages and $20 per hour for staff time for Blacksburg records.

Watson said crime victims get all reports free of charge. He said typical requests are fairly easy for personnel to research and provide, but he said there are requests for archived police reports that are several years older that take longer to fulfill.

He said the city does not normally get FOI requests from the general public, but there have been many “frivolous requests” from a local businessman. Watson said city personnel must spend time researching and gathering requested information, and the fees, if approved, would enable the city to recover its costs.

S.C. Press Association Executive Director Bill Rogers wrote in an email that there are several legal issues in the proposed policy that would create a “major barrier to public access to public documents.

“The law says a public body may charge no more than the actual cost for searching for and copying a public record,” he said. “If $1 a page is the actual cost for Wellford to make a copy of a record, I would love to have (the) copier contract with them. It should be about 10 cents a page, actual cost.”

He pointed out that under the FOI, public records should be accessible with “minimal cost or delay.”

Rogers said the $10 application fee is “way out of line.” And state law does not allow a public body to request all the personal information required on the proposed form. “I don’t necessarily want the government to have my phone and email address when I ask for public information,” he said.

“This policy will have a real chilling effect when a member of the public or the press wants a simple copy of a document,” Rogers said.

Reba Campbell, deputy executive director for the Municipal Association of South Carolina, said it’s not an “uncommon practice” for cities to adopt such policies, but said cities do not report the policies to the state organization. Campbell said such policies are intended to make clearer the information that is being requested.

The South Carolina General Assembly is considering legislation that would limit the amount public bodies can charge for giving citizens access to public information.

March 3, 2015   Posted in: Uncategorized  No Comments

Jeff Duncan update on DHS/Immigration

Writing to give you an update on the fight against the President’s unlawful actions on immigration. As I discussed with you on Friday, the course of action we needed was for the Senate to vote to go to conference. This evening the vote to go to conference was defeated.

This puts those of us who oppose the President’s illegal actions in a bind. There’s a procedural trick that House Democrats can now use that would force a vote on the Senate bill. If they do that, I’m worried the “clean” DHS funding bill would pass with the support of Democrats and moderate Republicans. There’s an effort going on to change the rules so this motion would be ruled out of order. This absolutely needs to happen.

Due to the short sighted “CROmnibus” funding strategy at the end of last year (that I strongly disagreed with and voted against), Congress has surrendered most of its leverage to the President until funding expires at the end of the fiscal year. That is why this DHS funding battle is so crucial. Conservatives didn’t pick this strategy, but we must use all the authority given to us in the constitution to fight back.

This issue has more to do about upholding the rule of law and defending that constitution than it does about immigration. President’s cannot make laws on their own. If that’s allowed to change then we as Americans have lost and will continue to lose a sizable amount of our liberty.

March 2, 2015   Posted in: Uncategorized  No Comments

Peace Center to host GOP presidential hopefuls May 9

Rudolph Bell reports at GreenvilleOnline.com:

People who want to be president of the United States will once again take to the Peace Center stage to woo voters in South Carolina and across the nation.

Citizens United, the conservative activist group famous for winning a Supreme Court case on political spending, plans its third Freedom Summit at the Peace Center on May 9 in conjunction with U.S. Rep. Jeff Duncan of Laurens.

The event will bring at least six potential Republican White House hopefuls to downtown Greenville for a day of stump speeches.

Confirmed to attend, according to Citizens United, are Gov. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, former Gov. Rick Perry of Texas, Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania and U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee.

Citizens United said it would announce additional speakers later, but Duncan said former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush won’t be among them.

“Jeb Bush and I have communicated,” Duncan said. “He has a commencement address in Florida that day that is precluding his having the ability to come.”

Duncan said at least three other South Carolina congressmen – Trey Gowdy of Spartanburg, Mick Mulvaney of Indian Land and Mark Sanford of Charleston – are expected to attend.

CLICK HERE to sign up for free tickets!
(they’ll likely go fast)

March 2, 2015   Posted in: Uncategorized  One Comment

Wait, So These Ethics Bills Would Do WHAT?

Jamie Murguia warns of some of the more dangerous “ethics” changes that your legislators want to pass…

Two thousand fifteen was supposed to be the year of ethics reform for South Carolina. Granted, 2014 was supposed to be the year of ethics reform, too, but let’s be generous and focus on this year. The once untouchable Speaker of the House not only fell from power but also agreed to cooperate with prosecutors on any future corruption cases. Promises were made to fix the system that allowed former Speaker Bobby Harrell to flout state law and stay out of reach.

So far, though, those promises haven’t been fulfilled. Nor do things look promising at present. In fact, it seems that the result of reform in 2015 has so far been less about ending legal and illegal corruption on the part of public officials and more about punishing anyone who speaks out against it.

Consider a few major proposals:

File one too many FOIA requests and your government can drag you into court.

A recently passed House bill would establish a FOIA Court. It seemed as though our elected officials acknowledged that the process of obtaining public documents from our government can be painstaking, and therefore they established a system for recourse for citizens. However, a closer look at the bill revealed that House lawmakers created a system in which public bodies could take citizens to court for filing requests for information they found to be “unduly burdensome, overly broad, or otherwise improper” – or, as one lawmaker put it, annoying.

File a complaint against a judge that is found to be “groundless,” and you might go to jail.

Under a House bill, the willful filing of a “groundless” ethics complaint against a South Carolina judge could result in a maximum one-year prison sentence or a fine of up to $1,000 if convicted of the criminal misdemeanor charge. Much like the above bill, neither the term “willful” nor “groundless” is defined in the bill, allowing for broad interpretation. As The Nerve reported earlier this week, the state’s judges rarely face any discipline despite several hundred complaints filed yearly. It’s hardly farfetched, therefore, to imagine this provision being used to protect public officials and punish citizens.

Allege that a lawmaker has engaged in unethical behavior, and you may be threatened with prosecution by the Attorney General.

One citizen found out the hard way that if you challenge a sitting senator within the current system, you might face the threat of criminal prosecution. Correspondence between a citizen and Sen. Luke Rankin (Chairman of the Senate Ethics Committee) obtained by the S.C. Policy Council alleging potential misconduct by a lawmaker ended with a threat by the chairman. Because the allegations against the lawmaker were not filed in a sworn, formal, notarized complaint, and because the filer may have shared the potential allegations against the lawmaker with a third party, the filer could have violated confidentiality provisions that are punishable by prosecution by the Attorney General. Or so Sen. Rankin claimed, citing Senate rule.

Distribute information critical of a lawmaker’s stance on the issues, and you’ll have to tell them who funds you.

Bills in both the House and Senate purport to correct current law that was thrown out in a court case several years ago. However, neither proposal actually fixes anything, and in fact may be perpetuating the same policy that lost a court challenge in 2010. Both bills would define an “electioneering communication” in such a broad way that it would encompass organizations and individuals that are simply engaging in issue advocacy and force them to either keep quiet or expose their donors to intimidation by public officials. Whatever the intent behind this provision, the effect will be to shut down nonpolitical criticism of our lawmaking class and the policies they promote.

Each of these bills has been promoted as “ethics reform.” Some have made their way from one chamber to the other. One ethics-related bill, however, has not yet crossed to the other chamber.

S.1 – the omnibus Senate ethics bill – died a well-deserved death a couple of weeks ago. A letter from Governor Haley distributed earlier this week to the Senate, however, could resurrect it. The stated reason for reviving S.1 is to establish some form of independent investigation of lawmakers’ ethics violations – that is, to eliminate the current system of self-policing. But not even the stronger, earlier version of the bill – the bill before the Rankin amendment – would come close to establishing independent investigation.

Worst of all, perhaps, S.1 would silence critics of elected officials – or at the very least allow them to silence their critics. And maybe that’s the point.

March 2, 2015   Posted in: Uncategorized  No Comments

Effort underway to resurrect ethics reform

Unbelievable. This resume-building non-ethics bill just will not go away!

Accordingly to Jeremy Border at the Post and Courier.com:

Gov. Nikki Haley and state House Speaker Jay Lucas are prodding senators into reviving ethics reform after the Senate brought what had been touted as the legislative session’s No. 1 priority to a screeching halt.

Lucas expects the House this week to pass a so-called “omnibus” ethics bill combining several ethics-related measures that already have passed into one package to send to the Senate.

Haley has been urging lawmakers publicly and privately to reconsider an ethics bill with a way to ensure that alleged wrongdoing by lawmakers is investigated independently, not by the lawmakers themselves. As it stands, ethics committees in both the House and Senate are responsible for policing their own members’ conduct.

The governor and Lucas have said they hope senators realize that the issue will not simply go away.

Is this bill going to contain the same language that is in direct contradiction to a previous District Court ruling? “H. 3187: Changes the definition of “committee” to ensure Political Action Committees disclose their donors, which is not required because of a 2010 U.S. District Court decision.”

Is this bill going to deal with the TRUE ISSUES OF REFORM that have been demanded by SC voters for years?

Restore judicial independence. The public deserves confidence that judges rule independently of the legislature whose laws they judge. South Carolina is the only state in the nation in which the legislature unilaterally appoints judges even when vacancies arise. The governor should nominate judges, with only advice and consent from the Senate.

Ensure a true citizen legislature by shortening session. Our state has one of the nation’s longest legislative sessions: a system that favors career politicians over citizen-legislators, and empowers lobbyists and special interests over taxpayers. Legislative sessions should be limited to 90 calendar days or 45 legislative days, every other year, forcing lawmakers to limit their activity to citizen priorities.

Open the state’s secret incentives process. Corruption is virtually guaranteed when politicians have the power to strike secret deals with private companies using public money. Taxpayers deserve full transparency in all incentive deals – including public applications for subsidies, public debate on the merits of deals, and full reporting on investment “return.”

End lawmakers’ ability to police themselves. House and Senate members police their own ethics violations – and much of the process is kept private. Legislators should be governed by the same agency that governs other public officials, and details of hearings should be publicly reported.

Strengthen the state’s open records law and abolish lawmakers’ exemption from it. State agencies should organize their transactions and expenditures to be accessible to the public rather than charging taxpayers double for “labor” costs. And there’s certainly no justification for lawmakers exempting themselves from the state’s Freedom of Information law.

Enforce the state law that mandates an open budget process. The law requires the governor to write “the” budget and the legislature to hold “joint open hearings” to debate it. Compliance with that law would allow the public to engage in the budget process in real time. In addition, lawmakers should submit the budget in a simple format that is accessible to citizens online.

Or will this bill just be another “Great title followed by dreck” that legislators and elected officials can use to go into their next election cycle trying to fool voters that they’ve actually DONE something?

And … the big question … will Nikki Haley dash up to Spartanburg YET AGAIN to trash our good Senators who don’t stand for the foolishness of calling something reform that simply isn’t?

Thoughts from Lee Bright

Thoughts from Shane Martin

March 2, 2015   Posted in: Uncategorized  No Comments

Next meeting March 10 – Guest Speaker Alexia Newman!

Our next meeting is Tuesday, March 10 at The Clock Restaurant, 2725 Reidville Road, and the meeting begins at 7:00 PM. Some of us get together at 6:00 PM to eat and chat, everyone is welcome to join us!

Alexia Newman – EVERYONE knows her!!! – will be our guest speaker. Alexia can tell us about pro-life bills currently in Columbia, and share the good work the folks at Carolina Pregnancy Center are doing. CPC hosts a banquet each year, this year their banquet is April 23, I expect many of you will want to attend. I’ll be there!

And I read something about Iced Tea and Chick-Fil-A on Facebook today:

Spartanburg Chick-Fil-A is partnering with Carolina Pregnancy Center during the month of March. For every gallon of tea purchased, they will donate $1 to CPC. If you are on the nutrition plan, buy one and give it to the car behind you – don’t drink it!

(this is All Chick Fil A’s in Spartanburg, Boiling Springs, and Duncan)

Hope to see you next Tuesday night!

March 2, 2015   Posted in: Uncategorized  No Comments